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Modern Credit Cards: Chip/PIN and Chip/Sign - ease of use?

I have the new CHIP/SIGN Sapphire Preferred card from JPMorgan (No FX fees, chip/sign, points, etc). Does anyone else on here us this card, specifically? From what I understand, this will work most everywhere in Europe with no problems. Yes, I know the difference between chip/pin and chip/sign etc.

My question is this...
I hate carrying cash in the US. I know I will need a little of the local currency to get me by, but prefer to use my card for most all purchases including snacks, dinners, etc. Is this pretty widely accepted in Europe as it is in say... NYC or Dallas? Im hoping I wont need more than $200euro for the 2 weeks I will be in Europe.

Thanks!
Michael

Posted by
16941 posts

Hmm. I'd plan on getting cash from the ATM. 200 euro won't get you very far. A standard credit card should work fine in most cases. You only need a chip card for unattended vending machines for train/subway tickets, toll booths, gas pumps.

Posted by
38 posts

I'll share what I did recently for what it's worth. I was just in Paris on Feb 28 to March 5. I obtained a VISA Travel Card through my credit union for a $4 fee, then loaded with cash. It works like an ATM/debit card but with the added security that it's not attached to a credit or debit (bank) account -- so nobody can hack into my either a credit account or a bank account. My intent was that unless I had an emergency, I wouldn’t use my credit card—just the cash from the travel card. I used it everywhere except (as with most US debit or credit cards), not in machines (like train tickets). There’s a $500/300E daily ATM withdrawal limit, I think the purchase limit is $5000. If I'd wanted more $$ than what I had loaded on the card, I just needed to email my credit union and ask them to transfer more in. I was sometimes asked to punch in my secret 4-digit pin, and often asked for a signature, but not every time -- not sure what accounted for the variation. Here I'll confess that I do NOT even have a regular bank account debit card--here in rural America most everybody still takes personal checks, and when I hear about people getting their bank accounts hacked, doesn't make me want one. (Yep, I know, I'll get one someday, just not yet.) Anyhow, this travel card worked great for me in Paris, it only cost me $4, I like the security, and I'd do it again.

Posted by
28086 posts

most all purchases including snacks,

Good luck with that in France. Maybe at fancy dinners, but most places you are getting snacks, etc, and small shops for any "most all purchases" will expect cash. Buying any vignettes will be much easier with cash or a chip/PIN card, not a chip/sig card.

Posted by
9110 posts

You asked about Europe which is a big place and not uniform, but posted in France which is also a big place and not uniform.

Generally speaking, assume you'll spend half cash and half credit card. The fact that you have what you think is something special will make no difference.

Posted by
31511 posts

michael,

Your credit card should work fine in most hotels, restaurants and larger establishments, but many smaller firms accept only cash, so you'll definitely need to have more than €200. If you're using a credit card to obtain cash, the interest fees will be high. Are you planning to take at least one ATM card as well?

Posted by
9363 posts

If you use a credit card in an ATM to get cash it is a "cash advance" and interest starts accruing immediately (often at a higher rate). You should never get money from an ATM with a credit card unless it is an emergency. Prepaid "travel cards" aren't the best deal, either. There can be setup fees, fees for use or loading, fees to remove unused funds after your trip, etc. Just use a regular debit card to get cash, and use your credit card for larger purchases.

Posted by
28 posts

Nigel- I think you hit most directly with what I was trying to ask. I appreciate the advise
Ed- Never said I thought I had something special. Trying to be prepared is all.

Yes, I will have a Debit Card (with no FX fee) that I will use in ATMs to grab cash. No issues there. I just hate carrying cash in general and was hoping I could get away with this in Europe- specifically, London, Paris, Switz.

Posted by
9110 posts

Michael

My point wasn't aimed at you, but at the lurkers who read the threads and take copious notes of one kind of credit card or another and then decide they need the same thing for some reason. The fact that you named all the features and the issuer reinforces the idea that it might be something special.

Fact is that a chip and signature offers no real advantage over a strip and signature. I have a c&p and travel a heck of a lot, big deal.
The c&p is a minor convenience advantage sometimes, but there's always a work-around. I wouldn't have even bothered getting one, but USAA came out with them a few years ago and it was just a matter of swapping out cards.

As far as FTFs go, they don't amount to a hill of beans and more and more issuers are dropping them. Worst case, a short two-week vacation probably won't have but maybe five grand of charges. At two percent, that's a hundred bucks, but it'd cost you fifty on the ATM exchange rate to pull cash - - net difference fifty dollars. That's not enough for the pain in the neck of getting one an the extra exposure on a credit rating.

Any old credit card already in you wallet will work fine. Getting anything else for specialized/annual use is succumbing to advertising.
In your case, the bottom line to what both Nigel and I said was that you're going to need a lot more cash than you initially thought - - gobs more.

Posted by
4535 posts

It does seem you were getting some answers to questions you didn't ask. You will need to use cash more than you think, Europe in general is still more cash oriented than the US. Small purchases will need to be cash in most cases. Your chip & sig card will work just fine in almost all cases you encounter. Even sometimes in automated machines that only take chip & PIN.

Posted by
6720 posts

Chip and sig cards are of no value beyond what magnetic strip cards are -- they won't work in ticket machines for trains and for museums (the Louvre machines do take magnetic strip cards, but most don't)

Merchants often will not allow small purchases on credit cards. For lunches, souvenirs, tickets etc etc you need to have cash and some small restaurants don't take cards either, although in Paris most do. Just get cash from your ATM connected account; it couldn't be easier and if you have a good bank will not come with a lot of fees as those loadable money cards and such do.

Posted by
46 posts

I am also shopping for a pin/chip card. My only reason for doing so is that we are driving in France and I've read that they will be needed for unmanned gas pumps. Also if one doesn't have correct change for tolls (again ummanned), the chip/pin card is the only other way to pay....not a chip and signature nor a magnetic swipe card.

Posted by
760 posts

First of all, as has been pointed out above you will not be popular trying to use a credit card for small purchases, they prefer cash. I had a JP Morgan chip and signature card and it was as useful as a magnetic stripe card. Particularly in France, many toll booths, gas stations, train ticket kiosks use chip and pin only, no magnetic stripe, no chip and signature and no cash. As for using a credit card to pay for a snack, that is just disgusting.

Posted by
32 posts

200 euro for 2 weeks? Please! Just got back from Europe, I used a CC w/CHIP, only problem when storing your baggage at train station lockers bins. Most small meals, gifts...etc you will need to use euro's, and fact is you'll spend it FAST! You want two quick beers at a pub - 30 euro, 2 pizza slices 15 euro,... get the picture! 200 euro will last only 3-4 days! You'll choke on the prices of things in Italy & France!

Posted by
9110 posts

'........two quick beers at a pub - 30 euro.......'

About three, four, or five times the rate us regular slobs pay.

Posted by
28086 posts

I dunno how to spend €30 for a brace of bieres. Must travel in the high flyer club.

Agree that €200 is way low, but €15 a glass is pretty steep. Switzerland, Italy or France - or Germany.

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you all for your help! This is precisely why I ask :)

Different folks do different things! Ill plan on grabbing more Euro while Im there.

Posted by
3699 posts

You will probably pay extra to exercise your fondness for plastic, somehow and somewhere. The foreign exchange fees (different than the exchange rate) vary from bank to bank, as you know, but it is not uncommon to pay as much as $5 per transaction. That's hefty on a $10 purchase or even 10€. Did JPMorgan give you that card absolutely free, including monthly carrying charges? Banks are not in the habit of giving away profits.
I have never found a free card in Canada. For me, cash is both cheap and easy. Take out a large amount from an ATM and use it for all but the biggest purchases.
There is a risk to carrying cash. Ditto for credit cards, which can be stolen too, both physically and electronically. Anyone expecting to get by on credit should carry at least two cards (actually, four, two for credit and two for ATMs) on different accounts at different institutions. Backup is essential and I am speaking from unfortunate experience.

Posted by
1157 posts

WE just received a chip and pin CC from our AA Citi MasterCard. It also has a magnetic strip. We'll see if it works. We travel frequently and like to get Euros, GBP, Lira, etc. prior to leaving the US. We carry our cash, around 300 Euros each in a neck bag or money belt and are very observant about scams and pickpockets. Thwarted several in Florence last spring. In two weeks we manage to part with most of it since we frequent small shops, bistros, pubs, spur of the moment places, street markets, gelato, pizza, patisseries for breakfasts, and street vendors with crepes. Never found one yet that accepted credit cards and that includes some taxis, depending on the country or city. We also have an ATM card from Bank of America that works even in back water towns across Europe, just in case. We almost always have to tap the ATM.

Posted by
2042 posts

Just today I saw several people sadly walk away from Berthillion on the Isle St Louis because they only take cash. Cash is still king here IMHO.

Posted by
8293 posts

So some people actually want to pay for an ice cream with a credit card?

Posted by
4535 posts

So some people actually want to pay for an ice cream with a credit card?

In the US? Yes, all the time. That's why we have to remind people that cash is very necessary in Europe as you need it for almost all small purchases (and sometimes large ones).

Posted by
9110 posts

But, HWSNBN said a credit card was good for both a haircut and a loaf of bread.

Who are we supposed to believe?

Posted by
58 posts

Hi Michael I bring a debt card from my bank that is linked only to that one account. I only put my vacation money in there so thrifts cannot get a lot if something happens. I also change the amount I can take out of the ATM at one time. Normally it is only $200, I have mine at $500. I would rather take out more money at one time and have less fee's. I leave most the money in my money belt or safe at hotel. I take just what I might need for the day. Beware thefts can scan the chip in your credit card and now Passports. They have wallets and money belts that have RIFD blocking technology built in them. They also have sleeves you can get for both credit cards and Passports. I had my bag scanned by a lady in a busy square in July. I happened to have my card protected so nothing was stolen. I hate to think what would have happened if I did not have my card protected. Cash is alway's good to have on hand. Smaller shops don't like to take credit cards on small items. They end up loosing money on the deal. And what happens if your card does not work for some reason? Better to have more cash and not use it, then wish you had it and don't.
Enjoy your trip.
Wendy

Posted by
4535 posts

^^ Wendy: With due respect, I have two questions for you.

  1. How would you know that your wallet was scanned? It's not like they walk around with large TSA-style wands waving them over people.

  2. Do you even have cards that are RIFD enabled? Most people do not. And Chip&PIN/Sig cards are not the same technology as RIFD. RIFD cards are they type used at gas station pumps or transit cards that you just swipe against a reader and it deducts the charge (Chip cards must be mechanically read and a PIN entered). And passport info is of no value to a thief, only the passport itself.

Posted by
9110 posts

The concerns and fears expressed in the penultimate post have no basis in reality.

Posted by
5 posts

Just a comment about card fees. Fidelity offers an ATM card at no expense to account holders that can be used anywhere and Fidelity will reimburse any and all bank fees. Outside the U.S. there a 1% foreign exchange fee which is quite modest compared to several other cards and especially money-changers. Thus one can withdraw smaller amounts more frequently without paying more. Also Capital One offers a Visa credit card, no expense as long as a balance is not carried and has no foreign currency transaction fee. My AMEX charges me 3% when used outside the U.S. Or used to, I no longer take it with me.

Posted by
9363 posts

" I had my bag scanned by a lady in a busy square in July. "

How do you know? You probably don't even have any RFID cards (like tap-and-go cards that you might use at convenience stores or McDonald's). Credit cards do not have RFID chips. Any special wallet or sleeve does nothing to protect your card. But if it makes you feel more secure, go ahead and spend money on them. They just aren't necessary.

Posted by
58 posts

Weather the chip in my card can be scanned or not I take every precaution I can to protect myself. How did I know someone scanned my bag? I did research and found what they use to scan your cards. After having someone bump into me right were my bag was. I happened to look back to say pardon. Then I notice they had a square plastic case she bumped into me with. It was the same type of case they had on line. For what little money you spend for protection vs possibility of having your identity stolen. For me it's worth the $4 for a pack of sleeve's for the credit card. Or $12 for a new wallet. I would rather be safe then sorry later. In the end it's each person choice what they want to do. I am just passing on what my experience has been and what I have learned.

Posted by
3 posts

I'm in Paris now, using a Chase Sapphire chip and signature and it works fine in all the Metro/RER kiosks and the dozens of cafes, restaurants, museums supermarches, elsewhere that we've frequented.