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Credit cards at toll booths on autoroutes

In past years I've never been able to use any of my chip cards on the A roads in France. I'd usually try the first time, then when it didn't work I'd use cash the rest of the trip. This time, last month, I used my Andrews FCU card at the toll booths in Burgundy and the Savoie region, and it worked every time; about 6 or 7 times I don't know whether it was a different road company than in past years, or whether there's been a change in their software to accommodate American cards, but it certainly made things easier.

Posted by
3521 posts

Visa & MasterCard are working hard to make sure US issued cards work in more chip readers through Europe. They are having some success as there seem to be fewer complaints of cads not working.

However, there will be some cards that will probably never work everywhere in Europe. These are the ones that pay the highest cash back or offer the most miles etc. Why? It is the higher fees the merchant gets charged when those cards are used, called interchange, that eats up what little profit they are making on the transactions. One train company specifically states they will not accept certain Visa cards because of this.

But good news in your case and thanks for letting us know of your success.

Posted by
509 posts

In May 2016 we drove: Paris to Bayeux; Bayeux to Provence; Provence to Paris. I think more knowledgeable Forum participants have explained that the toll plazas are operated by a variety of concessionaires with inconsistent rules and practices regarding credit cards. We used a US Chase Bank Visa with chip. It worked fine in probably 90% of the toll stations. When it didn't, we had Euro coins ready. We learned to turn on our emergency "flashers" when we entered a toll lane to minimize our anxiety and inconvenience to drivers behind us. One of our earliest experiences involved a rejected credit card, and a "conversation" with an unseen gentleman inside a speaker. With his English as bad as our French, he essentially told us to put whatever change we had in "the mailbox" next to the card machine. We did so, and the barricade lifted. I think their mission is primarily to keep traffic flowing vs. generating revenue. After that, we entered the toll lanes with normal pulse and blood pressure. (We also had inconsistent luck with the chip card at gas stations, even on the autoroutes. Overly cautious, we tried to keep the tank at least 1/2 full at all times.)

Posted by
8243 posts

We drove from Paris to the Dordogne, spent two weeks on the Riviera after that and then drove from the Ardeche back to Paris via Auxerre. Our US Capitol One chip and sig card did not work in stations just south of Paris but worked fine in the south including the toll booths that seem to be about every 5 to 10 km along the Riviera. So yeah, it varies by who runs the toll station. Our worst experience was at a station on the highway south of Paris where there was no toll gate that took money and no manned booths. We finally called on the emergency phone at the station as we were blocking a long line of traffic and they had us put exact change in a box -- it wasn't an automatic counter or anything. The toll was about 18.90 or thereabouts and we just put a 20 in and the guy remotely raised the gate. He was very pleasant about it and spoke English. I am sure we weren't the first American to find themself in this situation.

Posted by
1005 posts

I've had similar experiences on the autoroute where my Andrews chip and PIN card worked 90% of the time. To avoid the stress of uncertainty, I always use the lanes marked with a green arrow, which means the payment machine takes cash. These machines also have a credit card reader, so I try my card first--but I always have cash on hand too. The machines will give change if you use cash, but they won't take anything higher than a 20 euro bill.

Posted by
2 posts

We just got back from France yesterday. The toll roads did not accept our Visa. We were about 45-60 minutes south of Paris. It's the only place we found that wouldn't take our card.

Posted by
2916 posts

We also just returned yesterday. After the Andrews card working 6 or 7 times at the start, we used a toll booth one more time near the end, and my card didn't work. I don't know if it was because it was a different card (I lost my Andrews card the day before), or a different region and hence a difference road operator. But I had made sure to get in a green arrow lane just in case.

Posted by
4639 posts

I wish the French used words instead of indecipherable signage. The French are sh*tty at good graphics (just try to navigate CDG or the Louvre with the provided/posted maps!). Who would guess that a green arrow means cash accepted?

As I've stated elsewhere recently the autoroutes in Provence, #7 and #9 and the tunnel under Marseille harbor #55, do not have keypads for entering in a PIN and accepted a chip and sign CaptialOne MC.

As to gas stations, tried the card once in an Intermarche machine but elle ne marche pas. The woman sitting in the cash booth (entry chained off) said she didn't open till noon! Then why are you sitting in there? After that experience prepaid in cash, just have to realize that no one is there to do that after 8 pm (or even 6 pm sometimes, or before noon other times).

Posted by
2916 posts

Who would guess that a green arrow means cash accepted?

Yes. I learned that the hard way a couple of years ago. At least now I know that even when I plan to use a card, I'll take the green arrow lane in case the card doesn't work.

Posted by
1136 posts

Wish I knew about the green arrow lane. We were just there 2 weeks ago and we thought the cash lane had the sign that looked like a euro and a coin but was always puzzled when it didn't accept cash. Oh well, at least we didn't have any issues with our chip cards. But the gas stations- that's another issue!

Posted by
2916 posts

Funny, Claudette, but I've never had a problem with my chip cards at a gas station, yet until this last trip my cards almost never worked at toll booths. I was a little worried last week in France because I lost the credit card I had been using, which was the only card for which I had a PIN, and whenever I had used it at a gas station machine I needed to punch in the PIN. However, I tried another chip card at a gas station and it worked w/o asking for a PIN.

Posted by
12193 posts

I had all kinds of problems last fall in Normandie, Brittany and the Loire Valley. This spring I had no trouble at all in Burgundy and Alsace. I think it's region related rather than a newer card - my cards are exactly what were in my pocket last fall.

Posted by
125 posts

Many gas stations in the South don't take foreign credit cards and you can't pay in cash in less there is an attendant there. So plan accordingly, especially around holidays.

Posted by
125 posts

Many gas stations in the South don't take foreign credit cards and you can't pay in cash in less there is an attendant there. So plan accordingly, especially around holidays.