ATMs Requiring Chip Cards?

I'm a fairly seasoned European Traveler and have even been twice this year. I ALWAYS use my debit card to withdraw cash from ATMS. Last week a banking employee told me that they had received several reports that their customers could not withdraw money because the ATMs they were attempting to use required Chips in the cards. Personally I've never seen this happen in an ATM. Yes, I've seen some automated ticket machines that require Chips but never ATMs. The last thing I want to do is be an alarmist, but I would like to know if any one else has encountered this.

Posted by Nicholas
Seattle, Washington, United States
282 posts

I haven't encountered this anywhere. Debit card purchases with a terminal, like at a store, I've seen be chip only... but the swipe should work with a little extra ID checking.

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
3668 posts

Yes, I'm thinking the original story came from someone who has probably never been to Europe and never used a foreign ATM. Thanks for confirming my suspicions that this story is probably based more on rumors and misinterpretations than facts.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21689 posts

Tim, "I'm thinking the original story came from someone who has probably never been to Europe and never used a foreign ATM." I'm not sure that's necessarily the case. The bank employee appears to have been relating stories from several travellers, which were no doubt based on their own experiences in Europe. As the inexorable march towards "Chip & PIN" technology continues, it's certainly possible that ATM's are being replaced with newer models in some countries. The newer ATM's may not have the capability to read older magnetic stripe cards. At the present time, our ATM's here are still able to process both technologies, but that may not be the case in future. The Netherlands seems to be further along with the implementation than other countries. The POS Terminals at the staffed ticket office in Amsterdam Centraal are ONLY able to process "Chip & PIN" cards now. That's also true with rail ticket machines and automated fuel pumps in some countries. Cheers!

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3228 posts

While I have not heard of ATM's requiring a chip to work, I have often run into machines that for some reason or another, do not work with my card. I never know the reason, I just move along to the next machine. Sometimes it seems to be related to specific banks. So perhaps those others had the same problem and just thought it was lack of a chip. I'm not sure how they'd "know" it was lack of a chip, even if it was.

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
3668 posts

Ken, "I'm not sure that's necessarily the case. The bank employee appears to have been relating stories from several travellers, which were no doubt based on their own experiences in Europe." The bank employee may have also relayed a misinterpreted novice traveler's lack of knowledge of foreign ATMs and accordingly their self-diagnosis of "must need a chip". Nevertheless I think if this story had merit there would be more messages posted in various travelers' forums about this issue... thanks for the input.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4763 posts

I agree with Douglas: some people may not have been able to use their cards at an ATM for a variety of reasons, and attributed it to the lack of a chip. I also agree that some may have confused ATM usage with other machine usage, or credit cards with debit cards. In the Netherlands in April 2012, I lost count of the places that did NOT accept a credit card without a chip. All of my hotels took swipe cards, but almost all stores had covered over the swipe slot on their machine, and were taking chipped cards only. However, I had no problems getting cash out of all the ATM's I tried. One person's experience, at one point in time 8 months ago, for what it's worth.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7927 posts

I'm with Harold, there are plenty of reasons to not be able to use an ATM, reached daily limit, bank put a fraud hold on your account, not the right syndicate, card demagnetized, machine is down, etc. I've never seen an ATM that required a chip, and I've never read a report that said Eurobanks were considering installing them. Like Tim, I've seen them required at automatic ticket machines and automatic gas stations. I've also, very rarely, run into retailers who didn't know how to process a card that wasn't chip and pin. So far though, nothing at ATM's. I wouldn't be surprised if Harold's experience in Netherlands becomes the norm. Merchant fees (for accepting credit cards) are really high in Europe. If banks charge a percent or two more for swipe transactions, merchants will responsd by taking only chip and pin cards. I was in Spain all April and didn't notice it, but that may be that I very rarely use anything but cash for retail transactions.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2193 posts

I actually ran into a chip & pin only ATM off the QEW in Ontario of all places...can't recall where exactly...believe it may have been near Burlington. Anyway, it was at a gas station & the sign on the machine mentioned something about chip & pin. It would not accept my US card, and I use that card at ATMs all over Ontario...had never seen that before or since. I had dinner at a place in Haarlem, NL in September...they did not accept money, period...only chip & pin cards. I had never seen that before and didn't notice the sign in the window until I was getting ready to pay (oops...I don't have a chip & pin card). Luckily, they had two card scanners, one for chip & pin and another for me. Last week in Toronto when buying coffee at more of an upscale café, the clerk asked if my card was chip & pin...nope. She used a secondary swipe device for my card...the primary device for chip & pin cards was attached to the register. This two device thing may actually happen all of the time...I've never been asked before & I have never paid any attention to how my card was swiped...I'm up there all the time.

Posted by Ann
Delray Beach, FL
26 posts

I agree that the problem must be with the credit card itself, not an ATM card. FYI, Bank of America "new" Visa Travel Rewards credit card has chip/pin technology. Once you get your card and activate it, you send in for a pin which will be sent to you separately.

Posted by Tom
2876 posts

From the ATM's point-of-view, there's no security difference between a magnetic stripe card and a chip-and-pin card. No matter which one you use, you have to enter a pin, which has to match the pin information embedded in the card. The difference between the two cards occurs with POS transactions. With a magnetic-stripe card, all you have to supply is your signature. Hence it's less secure - but only for POS. Am I right?

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
7461 posts

There is a difference. Magnetic strip cards are easier to clone and counterfeit with electronic parts which can easily be obtained at Radio Shack:) which is why there is a big push to switch to chip & pin. Having said that chip & pin cards are now also being counterfeited, but it's a lot harder to do.

Posted by Allen
Lafayette, LA
207 posts

Don't ask a banker to give you advice about handling money when travelling.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8397 posts

Bank of America's new travel rewards Visa is not a chip and pin card, but a chip and signature card. Per Bank of America, it will not work in true chip and pin applications like unmanned gas pumps or ticket kiosks.

Posted by H J
LaGrange, Ga, USA
1127 posts

Have not experienced any problem with the debit card, without pin, at ATM in Madrid and other Spanish Cities (Was there three months in the Spring). Not the same story in Paris in the stores..... As for Bank America, the local personal banker just tried to get me to get a card to use in traveling as it had the chip and pin...nothing doing with that outfit!