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Using United States chip and signature credit card in France

I'm concerned my credit card will not work at toll road stations because it is not chip and pin. My credit card company sent me a pin number but said it should only be used for cash advances. Would this same number work if a pin is required when I'm trying to make a charge with my credit card in France? Or is this no longer an issue?

Posted by
4785 posts

I've not driven in France so won't answer that part of your question.

I didn't have any issues using my chip & signature Visa credit card at any businesses ( hotels, restaurants, supermarket, shops, etc) while visiting France this June.
I didn't need my PIN number for any transactions (& was never asked to provide it) either.

Posted by
6033 posts

There have been mixed reports.

Any transaction relies on a protocol referred to as Cardholder Verification Method (CVM), basically it is an agreed upon set of rules that are a combination of what your card issuer allows in combination with what the vendor or their card processor allows. Each entity lists and ranks what CVMs they allow, from PIN, to Signature, online or off line versions of each, or if they allow "no verification".

Unmanned Kiosks like a gas pump, toll booth, or ticket machine cannot use signature, so you either need a PIN or both your card and the terminal will need to allow a "no veirfication" method and both may have a dollar amount limit that the method is allowed.

A good example is even locally...I have a credit card that in some places I have to sign for every transaction, in some places only if it is over $25, in others only if it is over $50. Obviously my card did not change, but the vendor did.

Point is, ask your card company what dollar amount transactions they allow with no signature. If they say none, then you are out of luck. However, you do not know what the toll stations might allow. For that, others may be able to say if they have used a credit card with no PIN, in France and what amount they were paying, it will at least give you an estimation.

Posted by
3333 posts

We were in France in May; and, as of then, yes there was an issue. Our C & S cards worked everywhere that there was a person to run them. They did not work at unmanned gas pumps or unmanned toll booths. However,, as regards toll booths, different companies manage the various autoroutes, so there is no consistency. The best strategy is to keep a ready supply of cash on hand when driving. The automated booths that we encountered took bills up to 50 euros and gave change. We also found it useful to fuel up on the autoroutes. There was always a cashier, usually in a central booth, but sometimes inside the store/restaurant, who could run the transaction. I repeat, we never had a problem in a shop, restaurant, museum, lodging, etc.
By the way, if you do a search on this site, you'll find a recent discussion of this matter. The responses indicate just how little consistency there is.

Posted by
21 posts

Hi, I was in Italy in May and used a credit card on the toll roads. I had no issues inserting credit card with chip. Nothing else was required. I will say I was confused at first toll booth not realizing I had to insert the toll ticket to learn how much to pay and then insert the credit card. EZ pass transponders have spoiled us!

Posted by
598 posts

Our chip and signature card was fine in France, except could not use at toll booths. But it was no problem to use Euro. The machines accept bills as well as coins. When we stopped for food or snacks, we put all the euro coins we got as return change somewhere in the car so they were easy to access at the toll booths.

Posted by
731 posts

We never tried to use our C&S card. We just used cash. You can look up what the tolls will be ahead of time by entering your route on viamicheline.com so you know that you have enough cash on hand to pay the toll.

Posted by
2916 posts

In April, as in past years, my Andrews chip and PIN card worked everywhere in France, including unmanned gas stations, EXCEPT for toll booths. Usually after the first try and rejection on a trip, I'll stop trying at toll booths. I also have some chip and signature cards, but I've never tried them at gas stations there.

Posted by
95 posts

We were just there in May and after having read lots of reviews with people stating that they had issues, we didn't even try the credit card lanes. We didn't want the embarrassment of it not working and having to inconvenience any other travelers behind us. Just look up your routes on viamichelin and it will tell you where the toll booths are and how much they are and just take cash. Easy peasy.

Posted by
13025 posts

My most recent experience using an American chip and signature credit card in Paris was last May of 2015 at two restaurants and paying for the hotel in Paris...no problems. They may wonder why after inserting the card that it takes a bit longer than what is considered normal. I could see that by the look on the waitress, just said for her reassurance, "ça va marcher, Madame." No problems with using the card. No experience with gas stations.

Posted by
21867 posts

It is an issue. I don't think there will be any problem using your Am chip and signature card in restaurants, hotels, etc, WHEN an attendant or someone else is running the card. They know how to accept the Am card. The problem arise at unmanned toll booths, gas stations, etc. when it is totally automatic. You can try your card but always be prepared with enough cash. The pin concept for chip and pin is different than the pin associated with cash advances against your credit card.

Posted by
99 posts

Mostly, the chip and sig cards work, but it's inconsistent. For toll roads, it depends on which company operates the route. Forget it, if it's run by Vinci. Not even your American chip and PIN cards will work there. SANEF or APRR routes will take your C&S cards. So will restaurants,and shops. I haven't tried unmanned gas stations. But, also look out for ticket machines on the Metro. We use our chip and PIN cards for those.

Bruce