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Visa card in France

I have just received a newletter from credit union and they have an article on using Visa in France. It says they have been advised by Visa International that there may be some acceptance issues. Some merchants have refused to accept cards without micro chip or require a signature instead of a PIN for the chip transaction. It then goes on to say that the majority of merchants will accept both magnetic swipe only cards and chip and PIN cards however Visa cardholders should be aware that chip and PIN security measures have been adopted in France. It is advisable for travellers to that travellers withdraw cash from an ATM.
It advises if you are going to France and encounter difficulties you should insist the merchant swipe your card or ask the merchant to contact their issuer.

Anyone know about this or had problems?

Posted by
124 posts

I just came back from three weeks in France and took three credit cards - VISA, Capital One MasterCard and American Express.

Before the trip, I contacted all three credit card companies' fraud departments to let them know that I would be travelling in France and the period I would be using the cards.

I had no problem using my VISA and MasterCard credit cards, but sometimes the American Express card didn't work, don't know why, but it did work in Paris and Nice. Maybe the card readers in the smaller areas couldn't read the American Express card. I did have to sign each transaction slip, just as I do here in Canada.

I also used my ATM card to withdraw cash, using my four-digit PIN, with no difficulty.

Hope this helps.

Posted by
8987 posts

This has been discussed before; it's actually been in effect for several years now. This mostly effects debit/check cards, but sometimes regular credit cards as well. As your newsletter said European cards have smart-chips embedded in them and the hardware merchants use to read the cards will only accepts cards with the chips in them. There is mo way for the clerk to override this. There are some merchants
(especially ones that deal mostly with tourists)that still have the older equipment that can read cards with just a magnetic strip. But places like supermarkets and gas stations will only take smart-chip cards. Over countries I know this effects, is the UK, Holland, Belgium, and Poland. There have been reports on this board that this has been implemented in Italy as well. Fortunately you can still use no-euro cards in ATM machines with no problems.

Posted by
505 posts


Actually - at least in the UK - merchants are required to accept a signature for card which do not have a chip n' pin, and for certain persons with disabilities that make a using a pin number difficult.

I have never had any problem using my US credit card in the UK, and only once ever had a problem in Denmark. Frankly, I think they are few merchants who would risk losing tourist $$ by not being able to accept non chip n' pin credit cards. Generally, I don't even have to tell them it's missing chip n' pin - I just hand it to them and they either swipe or stick it in the machine. In Denmark, they sometimes take an imprint the 'old fashioned way'.

Thus, if you encounter problems, definitely check to make sure they don't have the technology, and if they don't, have them contact the card company.