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French ATMs that don't require chips

My son is studying in Montpellier for the fall semester, and has just made his first attempt at withdrawing cash using his domestic debit/ATM card (which he had already set up for use internationally). However, it does not have a chip, and he learned from the branch of BNP Paribas that all of their banks (and supposedly others) only allow for chips in their ATMs. Does anyone have recent knowledge/experience using a non-chip debit card at a French ATM? We are meeting him in Paris in December, and have the same kind of debit card...

thanks!

laura

Posted by
4791 posts

I've used my debit card without a chip in Italy, Spain & France in the last couple of years, so as I far as I know, most ATM's in Europe still accept debit cards without chips.

Did he try a different bank?
Is it possible for him to open a bank account in France?
My daughter studied abroad (not in France though) recently & was encouraged to open a local account, mainly to avoid transaction fees by using her US issued debit card.

Many banks in the US are switching to debit cards with chips, perhaps you can call your bank & request one for your son.

In the meantime, if his debit card does not work in any ATM, he can pay with a credit card, when he goes out with friend & they in turn can pay him in cash.

Hope it all works out.

Posted by
21875 posts

Will be there next week so will let you know our experience.

Posted by
28145 posts

It is unlikely that the chip is the issue. BNP is a bank I go to a lot, and it is well spread out all over the country. (I do have the advantage of using a British debit card that does come with a chip, but previously over the years have used a Citibank card with a chip, and prior to that with just the strip, at plenty of BNP machines, usually in shopping centres).

Did he ask and not try, or did he try and then ask? What exactly dd the machine say? It is much more likely that either that machine had a headache or that although he thinks that he is set up internationally somebody has dropped the ball.

As suggested above, can you suggest that he try a different branch of a different bank and just deal with the machine, not a human. It will offer international languages as soon as it detects that he has a foreign card, probably defaulting to English. He could than keep track of exactly what it says. I'd advise him to withdraw no more than €300 on the first try, perhaps somewhat less.

Good luck....

Posted by
21330 posts

Before this summer's trip to Spain, I stopped in at my credit union to report my travel plans. I sat at a desk while the staffer made entries on her computer. I got to Spain and my ATM card was blocked. I sent a firm email and the situation was remedied within 24 hours.

I agree that it is far likelier that either the card is blocked for international use or there was a problem at that one ATM.

But definitely take action now to try to get chip cards for your son and yourself. Since your son is staying put in Montpellier for the semester, a replacement card can be sent to him. With luck, his bank/credit union is in the process of issuing new cards and can put him at the top of the list.

Posted by
4791 posts

Laura,

Nigel's comment just reminded me of something.

He could than keep track of exactly what it says. I'd advise him to withdraw no more than €300 on the first try, perhaps somewhat less.

This may be the problem... Perhaps her tried to withdraw more than his limit?
Do you know what his daily cash withdrawal limit (dcwl) is? Do you have a joint account? If so, you can request his dcwl to be increased.

I encountered this very problem back in 2008 when I tried to withdraw 300 Euros, but my limit was only $300!
So at that time I could only withdraw about 230 Euros. I then increased my dcwl to $750, so now I can withdraw 500 Euros per transaction.

I hope he gets it figured it out.

Posted by
4 posts

Nigel -
From what he relayed to me, the BNP Paribas was the 2nd ATM that he tried without success; he then went inside and spoke with someone who relayed the info about chip-only (fortunately, his French is very good so i don't think it was a language miscommunication). He is going to talk to his local contacts in hopes that they have encountered this with other students coming from the States and have an alternative.

Priscilla -
They did not push local bank account, just to be sure that they had made appropriate notifications (which he/we did); we have long used this credit union's ATM card for our international travel, and they have always been very good about follow through (and only have a 1% intl. fee...not bad). I have used ours in recent years successfully all over Europe and Asia...but not in France in 10 years, so who knows!

I will do a little more investigation on how much he tried to withdraw (i doubt very much), and what the ATM 'told' him...

laura

Posted by
8515 posts

In May and June we used our chipless ATM cards from two different banks all over the country and in Paris for six weeks. Never had a problem. I'd be very surprised if the whole country switched completely to a new system since then. He can g to other banks, normally without a service charge on the French side of the transaction.

Did you notify the bank that he's in France? Your US bank may be blocking it as suspicious.

Posted by
4791 posts

Laura,
I can understand how difficult this may be for you, being so far away!

My daughter had some issues with her cell phone when she first arrived overseas, but she was able to figure it out.
Hopefully your son's debit card issue will also work out.

Please Let us know what happens.

Posted by
2931 posts

I find this thread very interesting and will be following it to see what the answer turns out to be. It would not surprise me to hear that any given bank(s) in Europe opted to replace its ATMs nationwide or in a particular region with ones that only accept chip cards. I wonder what percentage of people using the ATMs in France have chip cards so that they would not even notice this change. At this point, I don't have any cards that do not have a chip and I recently read an article that said that at least 70% of US debit and ATM cards have chip technology.

Laura, Your son may want to try an independent meaning a non-bank ATM (I usually stay away from those because of fees, etc.) to see if his card works there if he desperately needs cash.

Posted by
3714 posts

Here are other ways his cash request may have been denied:

  1. He typoed the pin, twice.
  2. The time of day or day of the week may have had limits on the amount of cash it would give him, if any. I never had that problem in France, but the bank on Hydra in Greece limited my transaction on Sunday, but gave me as much as I wanted on Monday.

If he tried 2 different banks on the same day and still got zilch, I'd think the problem is probably with the notification process back home. Sometimes the people who take your international travel call really don't know what they are doing.

Posted by
131 posts

He doesn't need a chipped debit card to make an ATM withdrawal. I have used BNP ATM's in Paris and never had a problem.

I have however, had problems when my credit union is doing their overnight processing and once when trying to exceed my daily limit.

Have you contacted your financial institution to see if there are any problems on their end?

Posted by
4 posts

He's going to try again tomorrow (after talking to his local contacts) and get back to me... and then i'll check again with our credit union.

How likely is it that an employee inside the bank would have given him bad information (that they required a chip now) just for the heck of it?

I'll let folks know what we find out!

laura

Posted by
9930 posts

Within the last month I successfully used the BNP ATM near Ecole Militaire in Paris with my mag stripe/non chipped card.

I hope he gets it figured out soon!

Posted by
8515 posts

"How likely is it that an employee inside the bank would have given him bad information"

Sometimes people say things trying to be helpful when they don't know what they are talking about. And it happens in France. Right now we're trying to deal with an account in France where we get different info each time we ask.

Posted by
3336 posts

I've been withdrawing cash for years at French banks with only a magnetic strip card. He needs to try a different bank's ATM and/or contact his bank at home.
I have had the experience of going to my local branch to make arrangements for international use and still, my card is blocked when I arrive necessitating an international call to my bank to fix it. Very frustrating! I've had this happen twice in the last two years, most recently in Copenhagen two weeks ago. It could be as simple as this...

Posted by
4535 posts

It is possible that some ATMs have been replaced with "chip only" machines. But those would be the exception, not the norm. And bank employees, however helpful they may try and be, often don't know much about foreign cards and procedures (non-chip cards haven't been used by European banks in many years).

Most likely it is an issue with his bank blocking the transaction even despite the notifications.

A few other possibilities:

I've heard some European ATMs have the PIN number keypad with the numbers reversed (1 is at the bottom instead of at the top).

Different machines require different methods of using the card. Some swipe and pull out right away, some insert and remain during the transaction.

Trying to take out more cash than is permitted at one time or in one day (this could be an ATM issue or his bank). Remember that his bank's limit will be in dollars - so a $300 limit would not allow a 300 euro withdrawl).

I have had some transactions denied for no good reason. Happens every so often and I can never figure out why. Always works trying a different bank's ATM.

Posted by
3493 posts

Both Visa and MasterCard require all bank operated cash dispensing ATMs to support all valid cards at least until 2020 on machines available for public use. This means mag stripe only cards should still work.

It is possible that there are certain ATM like machines at this bank that exist only for their customers that require chips and all of their customers have chip cards, but there should be a sign on the machine.

I am willing to bet that the issue is at the card issuing bank and somewhere along the line notification that the card would be used in Europe never got entered into the correct part of their computer system. How was the card "set up for use internationally", by whom and for how long?

Posted by
5697 posts

Last year in Vienna I tried to get cash from a machine INSIDE the bank (thinking it would be safer than standing outside) and got nothing -- luckily, a bank employee redirected me to a cash withdrawal machine instead of the one I had tried to use, which was for local customers transferring funds to pay their bills. But they all LOOKED alike to me! Perhaps that's what the BNP employee was trying to say ... that those machines required a chip (and maybe he/she was new and hadn't encountered an American with a chipless card.) Let us know if he has success.

Posted by
13026 posts

@ Laura B....Regarding your trying to get cash from an ATM in Vienna and got nothing: There are two types of ATMs inside the bank, ie, where you don't stand in the street doing the transaction. I know, you go inside the small area where several ATMs are located. Not all will dish out the cash you want, even if you take it from your credit card . The ATMs are Vienna are yellow in color, at least the ones I encountered.

The two types of these yellow colored ATMs are "Auszahlung" and "Kontoauszug" What you want is "Auszahlung." When I use it, I don't change the flag to English. If you need to do that, change it to English, the translation is inaccurate, to say the least. (must have been done techwise).

You'll see "cash pay out.", which is translated directly from the German and should have been indicated as "cash withdrawal" That's the "button" you press for your transaction to access your cash. Then the screen shows the amount you want to take out.

The ATM with "Kontoauszug" does not apply to you, that's the reason why it did not work for you. It has to do with one's bank statement. You notice that in Austria they use the word "Auszahlung" while in Germany the word "Geldabhebung" is used to mean what we call a "cash withdrawal."

Both machines look alike, yellow, but on each of them is a word on top of it..."Kontoauszug" or "Auszahlung" That's how you tell the difference in knowing which one to go to.

Posted by
28145 posts

we were gong to hear back from Laura in Tulsa about her son's problem but she never came back.

I guess either he has never found a way to get money and maybe Laura had to take him some, or it has been solved but we don't know how, so can't tell future travelers....

oh well

Posted by
4 posts

Sorry all - meant to report back sooner, but life got in the way this weekend!

Fortunately, all is well...my son went to a different bank the next day, and had success in using his card. Of course, as is often the case with 'young adults', once the problem was solved and i got the briefest of messages that he had success, it took me a couple more days to get the info of which bank (CIC he used... ;-) and that's about it!

i'm afraid i still don't know where the trouble was that first day, but i gather it probably wasn't our credit union (or at least not an authorization issue). Right now i am placing my bet on either the wrong kind of machine (the bill-paying one mentioned earlier...which might also explain the chip-only explanation) or some kind of maintenance down-time issue (given the time difference) state-side. If i am ever able to glean more info, i will certainly pass it along!

Thanks to all for your advice!

Posted by
1131 posts

There is an HSBC Bank in his town at, 7 Place du Marché aux Fleurs, 34000 Montpellier, France. I have used them in France with my non chip card, they are based out of NY.

Posted by
5697 posts

My experiences with chip-and-signature cards in France this week:
1) ATM machine at a bank in Amboise started processing a withdrawal and then suddenly cancelled it (both the withdrawal and the cancellation show up on my bank's online records) but used the same card successfully two blocks down the street minutes later.
2) toll road took the card for a €3 toll in the morning, but another machine rejected it for €21 toll later the same day (possibly different companies) -- luckily I had cash, but could only dig out a €50 bill so when the machine made change it sounded like a Vegas slot machine paying off a jackpot.
3) unattended gas station machine just spit the card back. (And, of course, we were down to 1/4 tank on a Sunday and driving 200km to our next location AND there was no option for cash.) Drove on and found another unattended station of the same company which accepted the card ...€47 for a fill-up!
So -- moral of the story is, you just can't tell.

Posted by
4791 posts

Laura,

Thanks for the update!

It's good to hear that the problem was resolved & your son was able to get some cash ;-)

Posted by
7719 posts

Glad it worked the next time.

Sorry the person at the bank gave him bad info and thus caused anxiety!