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credit cards

Does Europe ( Italy, Switzerland) still take credit and debit cards that do not have a chip ?

Posted by
8889 posts

Yes, but only when the transaction is being handled by a human being. If you want to use a card (credit or debit) at an unmanned ticket machine, fuel station etc. it must have a chip and a PIN.

Posted by
792 posts

I think the chip and signature cards most USA banks are using are a step backward. Why they don't issue chip and PIN like the rest of the world befuddles me.

Posted by
5555 posts

Why they don't issue chip and PIN like the rest of the world....

Why is the US the only developed country in the world still not on the metric system?

The answer to to both of the above questions and many other questions lies in the old elephant joke:

Q: When can an elephant sit?

A: Anywhere he/she wants.

Posted by
54 posts

So I guess this includes bank ATM machines? My credit card has the chip, but debit card will not. Can I use it in the bank with a teller? Thanks for your responses!

Posted by
792 posts

yes, you can use it with a teller or any other face to face transaction

Posted by
7737 posts

US banks and businesses are in the process of converting to chip and pin. Why have they waited so long? Because the cost of fraud finally got too big to ignore.

EDIT: Turns out the conversion is to chip and signature. My mistake.

Posted by
901 posts

While you can certainly use your non-chip and pin card in a bank with a teller, remember this will count as a cash advance on your credit card, which will incur interest charges from the time you get it until you get your bill. Not the same as using an ATM.

Posted by
792 posts

disagree Michael. They are converting to chip and signature, NOT chip and PIN, which makes it worthless in a unattended toll booth or gas station. Incredibly stupid.

Posted by
263 posts

I have found that most US banks are converting to chip and signature, not chip and pin. There are very few offering, or converting to, chip and pin. It's pretty had to find one with chip and pin.USAA, Navy Federal Credit Union, and Andrews Federal Credit Union all offers chip and pin, NFCU and Andrews offer cards with no international transaction fees.

Posted by
11734 posts

We have used our magnetic stripe ATM cards in cash machines in Italy, France, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium without a problem. You just have to make sure the machine works with the same networks as your card. We've also used our un-chipped credit cards without an issue at hotel and restaurants which accepted credit payment. .

As noted, unmanned fuel stations and ticket machines can be an problem, and restaurants and hotels which do accept credit cards won't necessarily take all of them. You're pretty safe with Visa or Mastercard but I wouldn't rely on American Express, Discover, etc.

Prepare to have to use cash quite a lot in Italy as we ran into a significant number of establishments which did not take credit there. Also some which had signs in the windows indicating that they did but when the bill came, said the swiper was broken so they couldn't process the card.

Posted by
62 posts

I spent the past week in Italy and my debit card (no chip) worked fine in all the atm machines. I tried to use my non chip credit card at a train ticket machine and it wanted a pin number so I ended up using cash.

Posted by
506 posts

I work in retail and a couple months ago our credit card machine company came in to set us up for the chip and signature system. I was told that will at this point not have a chip and pin system only chip and signature and the banks have until October of 2015 to actually implement it. We have been to Europe three times with our "new" chip and signature card and the only time it did not work was in the Automated machines in the under ground, had to go to a ticket window to buy tickets. We have not driven, but most people are saying that gas stations don't work either.

Posted by
5721 posts

US banks are now converting to chip and signature and heralding this as a great thing "you don't have to remember a new pin" And thus one more step into becoming a second rate nation. We have obsolete roads, obsolete factories, if any, seriously inferior internet and optic cable resources and now are embracing an obsolete credit card technology. Since they are making the change to chips, using this obsolete non-standard technology is just insanely stupid.

Posted by
11 posts

I'm confused about the difference between chip-and-signature and chip-and-PIN. All of my credit cards have a PIN (and always have), though I've never really had to produce it in the US because my signature is enough. So my bank has now issued me a chip-and-signature card, but can't this be used as a chip-and-PIN since I know the four digit PIN associated with it? In the US, I understand (and have experienced) that I'm asked for my signature, but won't the only difference be that in Italy I'm asked for a PIN instead of my signature?

Posted by
506 posts

The reason that we have a pin on our Visa (chip and signature) is so that we could go to an ATM and take a cash advance. I don't think that pin would work on the European terminals like they work here. Over there they put your card in the reader and then you have to sign the receipt. I have heard that banks have given chip and pins to their "special" customers to be used only Internationally, but that would not be the norm here.
Our debit card now has a chip too. But that we have only used it in Europe at a bank ATM, I have not tried to make a purchase with it because I feel the credit card has better protection. And the chip debit card worked just fine in the bank ATM, we never had to see a teller.

Posted by
4512 posts

To clarify many of the questions and mis-statements in the thread:

US cards will almost all be chip & signature. This is NOT step backwards as the chip provides significantly more security than the magnetic strip. The VAST majority of credit card fraud is via making duplicate cards. With chip-based cards, this practice is almost wiped out. Stolen credit cards make for only a small amount of fraud.

The US is finally bringing chip cards on because of the massive fraud that has occurred in recent years (especially things like the Target and Home Depot hacking). Much of the duplicate card fraud shifted from Europe and the rest of the word to the US since we were the last bastion of magnetic strip cards. The switch over is IMMENSELY expensive for merchants. As in BILLIONS of dollars. They had resisted for years due to the cost and the fact that card issuers ate the cost of fraud. Part of the impetus to chip cards has been that card issuers are now allowed to transfer fraud costs to merchants if they don't install chip readers by October 1.

There are two main reasons the US is not using PIN validation AT THIS TIME. One is the customer interface. Banks are afraid, with some reason, that Americans won't figure out how to use the chip card and remember a PIN. Forget the PIN and the card is worthless until you can have them mail you a new one. The other reason is that the technologies for installing card readers that can handle PINs is more expensive. PINs will come, but not for a few years. And contrary to our desires as frequent travelers, banks do not make massive, billion dollar decisions based on the needs of US travelers to Europe.

The chip & signature cards will be much more useful in Europe than the magnetic strip cards. Many merchants were not familiar with magnetic strips and some would not chance the risk of fraud and process them. Almost all chip readers with an operator will allow for a signature validation, either digitally or by spitting out a receipt. You may have to tell the person "no PIN" so they know to push the right button. A chip card may also work in automated kiosks if the value is under $50. Many US cards do not require validation for those amounts. This also depends on other variables, but sometimes it will work.

PINs issued for ATM use (cash advances), may not be the same as transaction PINs. It depends on each card issuing bank, some provide a PIN for secondary validation, some do not. Secondary validation automatically kicks in if the card processor cannot do a signature (automated kiosk). It can be hard to know if you bank allows PINs for secondary validation as customer service reps are just as confused as the people posting in this thread. They have no experience traveling to Europe and don't often know the difference between primary and secondary validation protocols. They can't always get travel notification right. The best way to find out is to request a PIN, then try it at an automated kiosk.

ATMs still accept magnetic strips and there are no issues related to getting cash from a European ATM machine whichever card you use.

Posted by
31076 posts

Douglas,

Thanks for posting another great explanation of the technical aspects of the various cards. A few comments.....

"The switch over is IMMENSELY expensive for merchants. As in BILLIONS of dollars."

Will it not be more expensive in the long term for merchants to have to switch twice? It sounds like they'll first have to switch to a cheaper Chip & Signature POS terminal, and then perhaps in a few years switch again to a proper Chip & PIN terminal. That wouldn't seem to make much sense.

"One is the customer interface. Banks are afraid, with some reason, that Americans won't figure out how to use the chip card and remember a PIN."

I've never heard anything more ridiculous! Billions of people have switched to Chip & PIN cards in most parts of the world, and they quickly get used to using the new technology and remembering a simple four-digit number. Here in Canada it didn't seem to be a problem for most people, as they just continued using the same PIN when they received their new Chip card. PIN's can be changed at ATM's or in the local branch, so one doesn't have to use the PIN supplied by the card issuer. The banks are certainly not giving much credit to the intelligence of the consumers there.

"Almost all chip readers with an operator will allow for a signature validation, either digitally or by spitting out a receipt."

That won't work at places like Amsterdam Central for buying rail tickets, even at the staffed ticket office. From what I've seen, they accept only "true" Chip & PIN cards.

Posted by
16796 posts

Judy and others,

The only time to consider taking a cash advance against a credit card, is in case of a real cash emergency. A cash advance against a credit card starts racking up interest charges immediately.

The preferred method for cash advances is to use a debit card in an ATM. As already stated, ATMs don't require a chip; they work fine with magnetic-strip cards, especially those with a Visa or MasterCard logo. Look for matching logos on the ATM you plan to use. I think there is no reason to assume that your debit card doesn't provide adequate fraud protection; check fraud protection specifics with the card issuer.

See related articles at http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money, which would have answered this question without some of the vague or misleading answers that came up on this thread.

Posted by
11734 posts

Right, Laura: we never use our credit cards to pull cash even though they have pins.

Posted by
4512 posts

@Ken
I admit that I'm not entirely clear on the issue of merchants providing card readers that can handle PINs and how that impacts the conversion in the US to chip & sign cards versus chip & PIN. It may not have anything to do with the equipment, but rather the networks.

I have recently read more reports that the banks are indeed worried that Americans will not smoothly handle a transition to both chip cards and PINs. It may say something about the intelligence of the average American, but I think there is some truth to the concern. Banks have noted problems in other countries with the transition to PINs, and our transition is going to take over a year for majority use and several years before every merchant can take a chip card. The banks are worried people will forget their PINs if they don't use them right away and then won't be able to use their card.

I have also just read a report that issuing PINs remains a security risk since the PIN will be encoded on the magnetic strip too. A criminal enterprise can hack the card info if used as a swipe, then counterfeit the card to be used at ATMs for cash withdrawls. This is apparently still pretty common in Europe and Canada. I do know that counterfeiting has not been completely eliminated in Europe and Canada, so this would explain it.

Posted by
11734 posts

The banks are worried people will forget their PINs if they don't use them right away and then won't be able to use their card.

How many of us have been using ATMs for years now? Those require a debit or other bank card with a PIN. Why would attaching a PIN to a credit card be any different?

Posted by
506 posts

Laura, we never use a credit card for a cash advance, unless there is a huge emergency. But it could happen, so why not have a pin number. If you have a phone you can probably work out any issue with your bank but you never know. If you understand the consequences than why not have another layer of protection. One of the posters was asking why would you have a pin number on a credit card. I was trying to explain to them that on US credit cards you need a pin number if you are going to take a cash advance from an ATM machine. This is information that was given to me from Bank of America.

Posted by
5470 posts

I spoke with someone from Chase about this today. She offered a couple of comments. 1. She said that Visa and Mastercard are working with merchants in Europe to get automated ticket machines etc to accept Chip and Sign. Supposedly this will happen this summer after July 15. She also suggested that people should try using the Chip and Sign card and when the machine asks for a pin, hit cancel and it may go through. I wonder if that is the option that Visa and MC are working on. It doesn't make sense to me as now there is no security unless the machines are designed to accept a signature. But, let's see what happens. Chase did get back to me so they do get some points from me--no chips though. :)

Nice to hear from Doug. I am not surprised to hear that the banks think the American Public can't understand the pin concept. They probably had a few focus groups that indicated it might be a problem and so they went conservative. I don't think any has ever describe banks as anything but conservative! Interesting to hear that it's more expensive to do chip and pin. You would think it would be cheaper. No screen for signing....

Ah well, we continue on our arrogant ways. :)

Pam

Posted by
31076 posts

Douglas,

Thanks for the additional information. A few more comments.....

You may be right that the conversion has more to do with the networks rather than the POS terminals. I noticed here that the small "mom & pop" operations made the transition very quickly, while the larger chains required more time to configure their central payment systems. It all got done eventually.

It's a bit perplexing that they're going for a "half assed" solution instead of just going with the system they will have to eventually adopt anyway. As Larry the Cable Guy says, just "Git 'er done."

As I mentioned earlier, the banks aren't giving much credit to the intelligence of the American consumer. Do they figure that consumers are going to get smarter in the next few years?I wonder how they reached the conclusion that consumers couldn't deal with a PIN? As someone else said, people are already using PIN's for ATM withdrawals, so what's the difference?

The cards here also have a magnetic strip, so I suppose the risk of counterfeiting cards exists with our cards. It probably still happens, but I rarely hear abou that any more. I suspect that the magnetic strip will eventually be eliminated. One of the main benefits of the Chip & PIN cards is the fact that these can't be intercepted by hackers that gain access to the data networks of large stores while the transaction is moving through the data system (ie: Target, Home Depot). Each transaction is tokenized, meaning each has a unique, encrypted identity.

Pamela,

"She said that Visa and Mastercard are working with merchants in Europe to get automated ticket machines etc to accept Chip and Sign."

Why should merchants in Europe be forced to spend a bunch of money adapting their POS terminals to accept an inferior and probably temporary data standard. It's a good thing I'm not running things, as I know what my response would be.

Posted by
4512 posts

I suspect that the magnetic strip will eventually be eliminated. One of the main benefits of the Chip & PIN cards is the fact that these can't be intercepted by hackers that gain access to the data networks of large stores while the transaction is moving through the data system (ie: Target, Home Depot). Each transaction is tokenized, meaning each has a unique, encrypted identity.

My understanding is that the magnetic strip will be eliminated once everyone is using chip cards and all of the POS terminals have been converted. It will be years though. US gas pumps don't have to be converted until 2017. ATMs will still have magnetic readers for the foreseeable future. And merchants are not required to install chip readers by this October, they will only be liable for fraudulent charges if they don't have them. My guess is that major retails will all have them to avoid the exposure, but small mom-pop businesses will take their time converting. And a lot of self-employment businesses (think people selling things at shows and fairs) use a swipe dongle on their phone to process credit cards.

All chip cards use the same dynamic, encrypted transaction process - whether PIN or signature is used for validation. That is what makes them so much more secure from counterfeiting. Hackers will still be able to steal info from data breaches, but they won't be able to make chip cards that will work in chip readers. The remaining security threat is the magnetic strip, and counterfeit cards can still be used in ATMs and where retailers have not installed chip readers. Apparently this is one reason for US banks not to issue PIN validation - they are concerned that counterfeiters will use the PIN to withdraw cash from people's accounts.

Posted by
31076 posts

Douglas,

"And a lot of self-employment businesses (think people selling things at shows and fairs) use a swipe dongle on their phone to process credit cards."

I've seen those, and on one of the contractors that did some work on my house was using one. I think they're made by a company called Square.

I wonder if the introduction of Apple Pay and similar E-Pay systems (including BitCoins) will impact all this? People may not need to use cards too much in future.

Posted by
23 posts

I think US banks want to retain an easy way for average customers to tell the difference between credit card payment (signature) and debit card payment (PIN) because they want the customers to use credit cards more. They can charge much higher fees for credit card payment.