CHIP SYSTEM-Pin Required for Credit Card

Is it necessary to know the PIN numbers on the credit cards in order to use them properly in Italy with the chip system? In the US, we swipe it, perhaps show some ID, and that is it. In Italy, do they require you to enter a pin more often than not?

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
13054 posts

I have never been asked for a pin number when use a credit card. Obviously you need it for a debit card. The "chip system" and pin number have no relationship. The chip is a replacement for the magnetic strip.

PS -- I should have said the "chip system" and your pin number has no relationship. If using a European card with a chip then you will need a pin number.

Posted by Mark and Kristy
Shrewsbury, USA
72 posts

From Money 101: "As a fraud-protection measure, some parts of Europe (especially the British Isles, Scandinavia, France, and the Netherlands) are adopting a "chip and PIN" system for their credit and debit cards. These "smartcards" come with an embedded microchip, and cardholders must enter a personal identification number (PIN) instead of signing a receipt.

In areas where this technology is becoming standard, some merchants might request that you key in a PIN with your credit card."

I am just wondering how common this is in Italy.

Posted by steve
gaston, oregon, usa
842 posts

Never saw this in Italy, or last summer in France. I suspect it is just as you quoted "especially the British Isles, Scandinavia, and the Netherlands"

I did seee this in Portugal self service gas stations, but if you did not have a pin number you just pushed "Enter" twice to bypass a "pin #" for your credit card.

Posted by Sheree
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
107 posts

Interesting question. In Canada most POS systems will ask you for a PIN# in place of a signature when using a credit card with a chip in it. Some places will not let you use your chip credit card without a PIN# as it is a higher level of security. I don't know about Italy. I would learn your PIN# just in case.

Posted by Mike
Los Angeles, CA, USA
1448 posts

the only place I personally have had a credit card not work in Italy is in some of the older automated kiosks in Venice for train tickets, the ones with a physical button for the local-area ticket you want. However the newer blue Trenitalia automated kiosks work fine.

Note, though, that credit card use is less common in Italy and many parts of Europe than it is here. While I think nothing of charging a $10 purchase here, many merchants in Italy will strongly prefer cash for such transactions.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
22001 posts

Mark and Kristy,

I'm not sure I agree with the statement that you quoted from "Money 101" as the wording may not be quite accurate.

The "chip & PIN" credit and debit cards have been in use in Europe for a few years now, and the "adoption" of this technology is proceeding very rapidly, especially in the countries you mentioned. During the transition period, most cards are equipped with both the chip and a magnetic strip (at least that's the case here in Canada).

When presenting a "chip card" for payment, the transaction is normally processed on that basis, and the PIN is used in place of a signature. However, if an older magnetic strip card (without a chip) is offered for payment I've always found that the transaction requires only the card holders signature and the transaction is processed in the usual manner. I don't believe there's any "rule" that requires holders of magnetic strip cards to also enter a PIN - the signature is normally all that's required. That sounds more like ignorance on the part of the merchant?

I've never been asked to enter a PIN for a credit card transaction in Italy (although this year I'll be using "chip & PIN" cards, so that might change).


Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
7473 posts

In addition to chip & pin, there is a new method of authorizing credit cards in place in certain areas of Europe. Increasingly some merchants will require you to enter the PIN number for your "magnetic strip" credit card in order to finalize the transaction, instead of signing a receipt. I've personally had this happen in Belgium and Holland. If you don't know your CCs pin number, call your bank to get a new one.