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Credit cards in Paris

Can you use credit cards everywhere, groceries stores small shops, bakeries etc?

Posted by
291 posts

Hi mlw5000-I have never had a problem, in fact, it appears so much easier now to use a credit card. Even the beautiful bakery below us did not bat an eye for using for pastries. Of course, I ALWAYS have euro with me....as for smaller purchases, vendors, it works well. All tickets that were purchased on line when there, etc. was easy.

Posted by
202 posts

Indeed -- I barely used cash at all when I was there last month. As another said, of course it is always good to have at least a little euro for small purchases. Visa/MC is preferred; Amex accepted about half the time.

Posted by
2594 posts

About the only time I use actual cash is to buy a croissant or baguette. Otherwise, cards work everywhere.

Posted by
209 posts

I use my Capital One for everything - no foreign transaction fees. But when we say "Credit Cards", yes for Visa/Mastercard for sure. Discover mostly I believe, but Amex not everywhere. I always make sure I have several Visa credit cards to use just I case (although never an issue with the cap one), and just have some cash on hand.

Glenn

Posted by
3248 posts

As you are travelling alone, I believe?....I would definitely make sure to bring two cards with you...a credit card, and another card linked to a completely different account.
That way if you lose one, you will have access to money as a backup.
Always bring Euro with you.

Posted by
2594 posts

I always travel with two credit cards, which I never keep in the same place.

Posted by
202 posts

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It is not necessary to bring euro with you. You can get it from an ATM upon arrival, no problem. No need to go to the expense and trouble of obtaining it ahead of time.

Posted by
8236 posts

there are shops where there are Euro limits on credit cards.. The butcher shops we frequent generally require 10 Euros or more before taking a card and we have had other shops with similar rules. Grocery stores -- anything goes. I would get some Euros on arrival from an ATM -- you don't want to be without any money. I also prefer to pay the cab driver from the airport with money rather than a card.

Posted by
7080 posts

Cash is still occasionally required for small purchases below 5-10€, but increasingly there is no minimum amount. Either way, can't hurt to withdraw some cash at an ATM.

Posted by
148 posts

Be sure to have some coins if you want to use a toilet!

Posted by
7 posts

And I always tell others to make sure they are 2 different providers..i.e Visa AND Mastercard, preferably NOT tied to your bank account.

We were in Paris on a Fri. and tried to withdraw ATM funds, but not successful Thought no big deal, we will go to lunch and then try again. But a Visa CC wouldn't work in the restaurant. Fortunately after emptying purse and pockets, found enough to cover cost or it was wash dishes to pay! Back to bank to find out VISA system was down all over the world and no idea when it would be back up! With our ATM and credit card all tied to VISA we were stuck and on a Fri. afternoon. It did come back up in about 2 hours, but it was scary. Had enough for a loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter only!!

Also found out our bank would issue us an ATM card which was not tied to any credit card company or as a debit card. That way if lost/stolen, without the pin, it was useless and couldn't be used at any stores, etc.

Posted by
3248 posts

The response before mine indicates very good reasons to being some Euro with you, not wait till you arrive.

Posted by
3 posts

I used my Visa card everywhere and everything was okay. It was not a Euro card, but everything was converted automaticly.

Posted by
80 posts

Most places in France takes Apple Pay (or Google Pay), which is convenient. You just add your credit card to your digital wallet and then use your phone to pay. Another benefit is that you won't have to sign a receipt, which happens sometimes if you use a physical foreign credit card.

Many businesses still have a minimum purchase amount below which you can't use a card, just cash. It has gotten better though since there was a move to cashless with covid. Some stores are 1 euro, others 2, some 5.

Posted by
38 posts

Not to repeat what everyone else has already said, but some small places and the markets don't take cards but it is very few and far between.

However, I always bring cash to tip our tour guides. I know tipping isn't expected in France but tour guides do not make much money and if you really loved a tour make sure to slip them a 10 or a 20 (for a couple). It's something that isn't really talked about enough on tipping etiquette for Europe. We usually end up making good friends and getting a huge amount of local insider info.

Also good to keep some smaller change for bathrooms that you have to pay for or bathroom attendants.

And don't forget to bring a card that requires a pin (some machines require it). I always put alerts on my transactions when traveling just in case and alerting my bank that I will be traveling so my cards aren't frozen. Anti-scan card protectors for crowded subways are also good to keep in mind.

Posted by
2594 posts

I know tipping isn't expected in France but tour guides do not make much money

How much money do they make?

It's something that isn't really talked about enough on tipping etiquette for Europe.

I agree, but that is because tipping is neither expected nor necessary.

And don't forget to bring a card that requires a pin (some machines require it)

It would be great if that were all it took to have a card with PIN purchase authorization. Too often, when someone asks their US card issuing bank for a credit card PIN, the bank gives them a PIN that will only authorize cash advances from an ATM machine. These are not PINs used in lieu of signature. There are a number of US credit unions that issue credit cards with purchase authorizing PINs, but there are very few banks.

You can ask, but the chances of your bank giving you a PIN for use in lieu of signature, are almost zero.

Posted by
4600 posts

Tocard is correct, you don't just need a PIN you need a chip and PIN card. Like the one I got at Andrews FCU, and it's a good thing I had it because my taxi to CDG wouldn't take a regular card for some reason. After some struggle it accepted the Andrews card.

Otherwise every merchant has tap to pay, easy peasy. I'm in the camp where you land with 100 euros in your pocket so you can just start, and get more at ATMs if needed as you go along.

Posted by
114 posts

We are staying at a bed & breakfast that only takes cash. Our 3 night stay means we have to bring more than 400 euros with us. We are traveling by train, so that makes us nervous. I much prefer using a card for big purchases.

Posted by
14269 posts

@jef, I agree with Bets. There are times when I wound up with around that amount or a bit over and it really never made me nervous. I travel solo. If I withdraw a lot of money I do it first thing in the AM, then go back to the hotel to get it stashed in my money belt and have no worries after that.

The only time I've ever been nervous withdrawing money was last Fall in Toulouse. Some students had kind of set up shop on the sidewalk next to the ATM and I wasn't sure what their purpose was. I had a fellow tour member wait with me while I drew out several hundred Euro. He'd not been able to get his card to work so I was withdrawing money for him as well. The machine spit it out, I grabbed it and my card and receipt and we walked back to the hotel to split things up in the lobby. I was really worried for nothing I think.

Posted by
4600 posts

jef you should look into a free Charles Schwab online savings or checking account, it's free and you get free ATM usage anywhere in the world. No need to carry a lot of money around, wait until the last minute. I used mine several times in Paris with no problem.

Posted by
303 posts

It's easy. I just applied for mine online. In about a week I should have my card in my hand. You only need to put a little bit in to get started. No fees no minimums. Thank you for suggesting it. I can't remember who it was;

Posted by
114 posts

I agree about the Schwab account! Our issue was that we would be traveling with that money, not just getting it at a bank and going back to our place. We would arrive on a holiday, so could not get to a bank until the next day. As things turned out, we won't be staying there. Even though I think it looks lovely. They moved since booking.com did their map, so they show as being in their old place... where we wanted to be. We cancelled. We were never concerned about traveling with cash before, until a trip to New Jersey a few years ago. In the middle of the day in an empty subway station, a group of teen girls approached my husband and me and told us they were would pat us down if we did not give them our money. I had almost $1000 in 100 bills in my bra pouch, since I did not want to leave it in our hotel with no safe. I was not using a purse so they knew we had to have some somewhere. Worker came by and they took off. Now I always carry some sort of bag with a disposable amount. But I am uncomfortable traveling on trains with a lot.