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Visa not accepted

Why is it that in Europe the Visa card (debit) is not accepted but Mastercard is?

Posted by
424 posts

I just returned home from 2 weeks in Italy (Dec. 23-Jan. 6) and used my Visa CREDIT card (which did not require a PIN) at shops, restaurants and hotels in Lucca, Pistoia, Perugia, Assisi, Spello, Ravenna and Venice. No problem anywhere. For ATM cash withdrawals I used a bank Mastercard debit with PIN. I'm curious where you had your problem. Did bank ATMs reject (or do you anticipate bank ATMs rejecting) your Visa debit for cash withdrawals?

Posted by
5027 posts

I used two different VISA debit cards all over western Europe in 2014. Has something changed since then? Is this a problem you had with your VISA debit card? Or did you read or hear something from some other source that said this is the case?

Posted by
1689 posts

Are you talking about both a VISA debit and a Mastercard debit? I know in Spain, sometimes a Mastercard credit card is accepted over a Visa Credit card. I prefer to use debit cards only at ATMs. I use credit cards for purchases. Since debit cards are often connected to your bank account, I prefer to not have that exposure.

Posted by
20133 posts

My Visa debit card works fine throughout Europe

Posted by
3574 posts

Visa cards are widely accepted, nearly everywhere in Europe. What exactly leads you to believe otherwise?

Posted by
515 posts

Generally, the only problems the average visitor to Europe should expect would be with American Express and Discover cards, though (while they commonly are rejected) they aren't universally denied. Visa cards, credit or debit, seem to be more or less universally accepted. I, too, am curious what the circumstances were that led the original poster to pose this question.

Posted by
1739 posts

I’ve never had, nor heard of a problem with this.

Rarely I’ve had an ATM not work for me but I can’t say why. I just go to a different machine. This has happened maybe three times in years of travel.

Is it possible that the issue is with your specific card (the bank blocking it due to fraud concerns?). If it’s that a call to the card issuer before you leave will fix the issue.

Posted by
1881 posts

Why is it that in Europe the Visa card (debit) is not accepted but
Mastercard is?

The ENTIRE continent? I've never experienced that.

Posted by
3300 posts

Jerry, even if you did a proper Travel Notification, your “Too big to fail” bank could have messed it up! We need more facts from you!

Posted by
2098 posts

My Visa Debit card worked everywhere I wanted it to.

Is this statement from your experience, something someone else told you, or something you read somewhere on the net?

Posted by
2034 posts

All my debit cards are Visa and they work all over Europe, where are you getting your information from?

Posted by
296 posts

NOT while in Europe but attempting to purchase items on line from various UK/Europe entities they will NOT accept a Visa card, only Mastercard.

Posted by
11117 posts

That's odd. I've had trouble using my credit card a few times for things like European transportation tickets. My credit card company suspected fraud because I was using the same card myself at home about the same time. The problem was on the US end, not the European end.

Posted by
3692 posts

Suspect it has to do with your bank, since it is a DEBIT card. Did you alert the bank you were making these purchase(s)

You have both VISA and MASTERCARD debit cards?

Posted by
3977 posts

Yes, on occasion my VISA card didn't work for European purchases (train tickets) ... but when I put in a notification about using the card in the specific country, it worked fine.

Posted by
20133 posts

For many European purchases you need to have subscribed to "Verified by Visa" and be able to enter the password upon request. There is a similar MC programme now, and all on-line purchases with those cards will need this going forward. It is designed to prevent fraud.

Posted by
424 posts

I think Nigel may have identified the problem. I was unable to make some pre-trip purchases in Italy last year (train tickets; museum reservations) with my Visa card until I called my financial institution and set up "Verified by Visa." Since then, all of my Italian purchases on-line (from home) have gone through just fine.

Posted by
293 posts

Nigel is correct. I had issues both in Italy and Spain with Visa for online purchases until I got verified by Visa for those countries, then no problem. My debit and credit cards have worked fine including the UK.

Posted by
5592 posts

I agree you need to contact VISA for purchases - at times.

I just bought tickets to the King Tut exhibit in Paris day before yesterday. My first 2 attempts with a VISA debit were declined. I called VISA, she opened it up for the purchase. Later in the day I needed to purchase 2 more for a friend who couldn't get her VISA to work. I got the Verified by VISA thing that time (maybe the purchase has to be over $50 or something - first was $29, second was $60-ish), kept the service rep on the line while I completed the transaction and it went thru. She indicated she would flag my account as being able to do transactions in France for 24 hours with no problem.

I do use my Credit Union debit card in ATMS all over Western Europe with no problem but I would not use a debit card for an online purchase in any event.

Posted by
10180 posts

No problems at all in having the Visa credit card accepted if the establishment takes a credit card.

Posted by
2098 posts

OK, that explains it. How you are using the card is an important detail!

Any transaction that arrives from a foreign country is a foreign transaction. Doesn't matter where you initiate it - in person, on the web, over the phone -- and you card issuer will treat it like a foreign transaction. This means if you are buying train tickets from an Italian train company online, your bank needs to know you will be doing this. I have had issues buying plane tickets on some European small airlines because of this. It just takes a call to the card issuer explaining what you are attempting, and all is well.

And not everyone who accepts either a Visa or MasterCard has to accept the other. In the US it is almost a given that any place accepting credit or debit cards will most likely accept any type. MasterCard does enjoy a bit of an edge over Visa in Europe as far as how many places accept the cards. I have not run into this at any of the places I wanted to use my cards so far, but it is a possibility.

Also, does your MasterCard Debit have a chip in it and Visa not? The rules for chip cards are slightly different than those with just a mag stripe and many online transactions will be approved for the chip cards that are declined for the mag stripe ones (don't know why this matters if you are doing on line transactions because the chip isn't used anyway for those)

Finally, the Verified by Visa option is a good one to use. You never give out your actual card number which reduces fraud possibilities. Worth looking into.

Posted by
79 posts

Good explanation Mark.
I have used both Mastercard and Visa for purchases on foreign travel websites. Train, tour tickets, etc and merchandise. Generally on my credit cards either Visa or Mastercard, I would get a transaction refused and have to call or verify with the credit card company. Had to let my credit card company know that a charge was coming from the rental agent in Paris otherwise they would send me a message as it looked like fraud. Verified by Visa is great to have if available.

Posted by
2476 posts

Some years ago we were buying bus tickets in Spain - the bus was in Spain, we were still in the States. The Spanish website refused my Visa credit card repeatedly. Since the clock was ticking on the reserved seats we had selected, I opted to quickly sign up for PayPal, one of the best decisions I've ever made. I have heard a few other folks mention some websites wouldn't accept Visa, but would take other cards. The problem may have been the "Verified by Visa," but I seem to remember we had that.

Posted by
10180 posts

In Germany you could encounter this sort of situation: the establishment says it takes a credit card but when you present your Visa or MC card, they tell you only the EuroCard is accepted. So, hearing that I paid in cash.

Posted by
3728 posts

Too funny, I’m glad Nigel hit the nail on the head. My debit card issued by my French bank is Visa! And it definitely works “in Europe.”