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French Toll Roads

What Credit Cards do the French Toll roads booths take?

Posted by
197 posts

John: This fall we were on the toll roads in France and had no problems with a MasterCard that had the pin and chip configuration.

Posted by
3709 posts

I'm afraid it's hit and miss. I've had a US chip card with PIN rejected at a French tollbooth (2014) and other places like an Aldi store in Germany with a live cashier. So you can't tell in advance or plan accordingly. Sorry, our new reality.

Posted by
1856 posts

We had a true chip and pin card (Andrews Federal Credit Union Visa) when we were in the south of France last summer. It worked at one toll booth. My advice is to keep cash (20 euro denominations or less) handy to feed the tollbooth machines as well as at parking garage kiosks.

Posted by
6728 posts

I have a little coin purse I take when we are on the expressways filled with ones, twos and 50 cent pieces as well as a few 5 Euro notes. The problem with trying the charge card lanes is if they don't work, there you are blocking traffic. We just use the cash lanes.

Posted by
781 posts

You need to have a chip and pin card and our new US Banks issued cards are chip and sign,so when we were in France this past Fall we used cash and proceeded to the cash lanes.
Mike

Posted by
6 posts

Toll booths can be a nightmare for those with only credit cards. Carry cash in small denominations as a backup.

Posted by
15053 posts

I didn't even try. Every stop had at least a couple of lanes that took cash (look for the overhead signs). They take all but the small coins and notes up to €20, though I think change was always only in coins. I averaged about €0.10/km in tolls.

Posted by
1873 posts

I'm with Chani. After researching this for our trip last September, and wondering why I was spending days trying to figure out how to pay tolls with a card, I finally bit the bullet and...arrrrgh...carried money. The little places in the rental cars that once held ashtrays are excellent for stashing coins and bills. Easy to find the cash only lanes as you approach the booths. Safe travels.

Posted by
2916 posts

I've had a chip and PIN for several years, but it's hardly ever worked at a toll (maybe once). Now I usually don't even bother to try.

Posted by
6511 posts

I'm with the others - I don't even try to use the cc on the toll roads. I just carried lots of € coins in a plastic bag in the glove compartment. It's not hard to accumulate the coins, unless you use cc for just about everything. I prefer to use cash for most purchases so they just pile up.

Posted by
1005 posts

Americans should always carry enough cash with them on French toll roads. Always use the cash lanes, marked by a green arrow. Don't expect a worker in a toll booth--all lanes are automated. The machines in these cash lanes give change and take up to a 20 euro bill. Most of these machines also have a credit card slot, so you can try your card first to see if it works. Unless you have a true chip-and-PIN card (not a chip-and-signature card) it probably won't.

Posted by
729 posts

John, you can consult the website viamichelin.com too see the exact amount you will pay for tolls. This is handy for planning.

Posted by
2 posts

We just returned from the south of France - the toll roads were a major pain. We were unable to use AmEx, VISA or Master Cards - all with chips.
The only acceptable cards are the CB ones - Several times we had to use the call box to have an attendant come to the car and give him cash. Only a few places had a bucket for cash. They are also terrible about labeling which lanes had an attendant or took cash.

Also - some gas stations on the A roads only took the CB card !

This is a major change from other visits to France

I think I will get a CB card before I go again

Posted by
2 posts

We just returned from the south of France - the toll roads were a major pain. We were unable to use AmEx, VISA or Master Cards - all with chips.
The only acceptable cards are the CB ones - Several times we had to use the call box to have an attendant come to the car and give him cash. Only a few places had a bucket for cash. They are also terrible about labeling which lanes had an attendant or took cash.

Also - some gas stations on the A roads only took the CB card !

This is a major change from other visits to France

I think I will get a CB card before I go again

Posted by
21859 posts

I disagree about the signage. When we were there last spring we thought everything was marked well and had no problem finding the cash line. Since the US cards are not true chip and pin cards, we just relied on cash. It worked well. Pull up, insert ticket, see amount to pay, insert money and go.

Posted by
21 posts

Last September - October we traveled extensively on autoroutes in S. France. My Capital One MasterCard with Chip only worked perfectly on all toll roads and service stations. Same experience in Spain.

Posted by
3331 posts

We just returned from a trip that included southern France. The only info that I would add is that the places where we had to pay took bills up to 50 euros and gave change.

Posted by
127 posts

Last June my chip and pin card worked everywhere including toll booths - except one time when it didn't! After trying many times at a card only tool booth - holding up many unhappy but mostly polite people - it eventually worked. My advice - don't get in card only lines at the toll booths. sue

Posted by
44 posts

I might have missed something. but what is a CB card? Thankfully, I read this post string a few days ago. I thought my chip card (which has a pin) was all I needed. I called my CC's and now have confirmed that all my chip cards are chip and signature cards - even though I have a pin. They said the pin was used only if I want a cash advance. Really good info about carrying Euros in small amounts for Tolls.

Posted by
15053 posts

I don't remember seeing a "bucket" for cash. However, I had no trouble finding machines that had slots for coins and euro notes.

Posted by
2916 posts

I don't think the issue has anything to do with chip and PIN versus chip and signature. On a recent trip when I got stuck in a card-only lane near Paris, neither my Andrews chip and PIN nor my Cap One chip and signature worked. Much to the chagrin of hundreds of drivers behind me. Apparently different toll roads are different with respect to CC, depending on what company manages the road.

Posted by
53 posts

Wow...don't get me started. Last fall we spent a month driving France. Began in Lille and. Worked south to Honfluer. We were cautious as advised about using the credit card lane, though we had 3 brand new chip cards. When the first toll experience worked with the card, we thought "hot dog". Regretfully as we continued south this ch anged. We encuntered machines that would not take the card AND though we could speak to someone one on the soeaker, we couldn't understand them, nor they us. No one came out of the building....after stopping traffic for quite some time, the barrier lifted. We tried to pull in to the building to pay our toll but no one answered. Another time, the machine rejected our Euro bills. So carry € coin, plenty of it. Evidently, Euope chip cards differ from ours in some way. Ours were also rejected in the 24/7 gas line. Go figure.,.

Posted by
754 posts

We are Canadian with chip and pin cards. Last fall, we went to one toll that would not take my Visa, MC and spit out every bank note we had. It was so stressful. Finally my Mom's card worked. Still have no idea why hers worked and our did not. Worst 5 minutes of the trip. LOL but it felt like hours.

Posted by
2916 posts

I was lucky in my incident on the outskirts of Paris, because after speaking to me over the intercom, someone came out, took my money, and got the gate lifted. Although not before I had angered hundreds of drivers. But interesting about the bills being rejected. Although my cards have often been rejected, bills have always worked.

Posted by
754 posts

It was crazy.....the toll was like 19 euros and we tried everything. We were driving a big van cause of a mixup with Europcar can we had to open the door and lean over far to even touch the machine. We had what I thought was the right cards as they worked in other tolls but nope.....My MC, Visa and both our debit cards would not work and we tried 10 euro bank notes that looked NEW and they kept coming back out. Finally my Mom's Visa worked but it was crazy stressful. So many cars......NOT FUN. but it was an adventure.

Posted by
341 posts

I don't remember seeing a "bucket" for cash.

The Pont de Normandie bridge near Honfluer only accepts credit cards or coins. While not exactly a "bucket", they have a funnel that you toss coins into and it adds up the value before it lifts the gate. Doesn't give change, either.

Posted by
1 posts

Paris to Châtellerault on a10 no luck with any of my three us cards, both chip and pin as well as swipe. Warning! After three attempts the machine will spit the card out unexpectedly...and in my case it went blowing down the freeway. Someone in a car behind me was able to retrieve. Had to call an agent over who calculated the toll, converted to us dollars as I did not have euros, but did not have ability to make change. Had to round up to nearest 20 as I had no small bills. It was an expensive trip as I could not get cash in the service areas and had to keep feeding 20s. The whole thing was a result of tgv hi speed not allowing bikes even though the website says they do. Had to rent a one way car which cost $240, so it was a really, really expensive trip.