Debit and credit cards

We've never had any problems using our debit (4 digit pin) and credit (Visa) cards in Italy on past trips. This year the girl and our bank said she'd heard that Italian atms only take "chip and pin" cards and that she wasn't sure our cards would work. Has anyone heard this, or had problems with using their debit cards in Italy?

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21480 posts

maggie, I agree with Ed - "said she'd heard" doesn't usually provide the most reliable or accurate information. I would think a bank employee would have better information to rely on than "hearsay". I had no problems using my ATM or credit cards when I was in Italy last September, and that includes using automated ticket Kiosks. Although I have "Chip & PIN" cards, the machines never asked for a PIN which means it was processing only using the magnetic stripe. I'll be back in Italy soon, and will be sure to post a note here if I find that things have changed. Cheers!

Posted by Steve
Buena Park
38 posts

Just got back from Italy on Monday and used our non-chip and pin debit card at ATM's in Venice, Florence, and Rome with no problem.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

'said she'd heard' That's always a problem.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11663 posts

my man Ed takes the words out of my mouth...

Posted by Ron
Cesena, Italy
789 posts

Only place I ever had a prob with the CC's was at unattended gas pumps.

Posted by Alyson
Chicago, IL, USA
422 posts

I was in Italy twice last year and didn't need a chip and pin for any atm machines. The only place I've needed a chip and pin in Europe to purchase train tickets from machines in France. By the way, I had a Travelex chip and pin, and Travelex has now discontinued them in the US.

Posted by Cat
Paia, HI, USA
141 posts

Maggie, I second what everyone has said. I'm here now, have been in 4 cities so far, and no trouble using my First Hawaiian debit card at any bank, but €250 ax/day. I am also using a capital one credit card, as i was advised Here on RS to do. They are one of the few companies that do not charge an international use fee. My Amex was 2.7%, my B of A was 3%. (No thx). Also, FYI, if you order in advance ( a week+) many US banks don't charge any conversion fees to get euros. I found that out to late, but next time! :)
have fun!

Posted by Angie
1 posts

Please explain what is a "chip and pin" card. Our daughter will be going to study abroad this summer and someone recommended we get an "Easy Send Visa" from our bank. Does anyone know what this is? Thank you,

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21480 posts

@Angie, A Chip & PIN card is the newest type of debit and credit card technology, which has been used in Europe and most of the rest of the world for the last five years or more. These are also called "EMV" (Europay/MasterCard/Visa), and have a distinctive appearance compared to older cards, as seen in this photo: Rather than the card being "swiped" and a transaction record signed by the customer, the card is in-serted into a Reader and a PIN is entered, which replaces the signature. The Reader makes electrical contact with the Chip and the card remains in the machine until the transaction is completed. The Banks say that this technology is more secure than the older magnetic stripes, so that's why they were introduced. Although all my cards are "Chip & PIN" (as well as still having a magnetic stripe), I've found that the older cards still work in many places, especially staffed locations. There are a few exceptions though: > Netherlands - is almost ALL Chip & PIN now, even at staffed locations. Those without a card have to use cash. > France - automated ticket Kiosks are C&P only, but staffed locations should still be able to process magnetic stripe cards. > Italy - Magnetic stripe cards should still work in most locations, except for automated fuel pumps, etc. The inexorable march of this new technology is continuing, so I'm sure that C&P will be much more prevalent in future. For some reason, Banks in the U.S. have been reluctant to "get with the program" and adopt this new technology. Cheers!

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
757 posts

We just got back a week ago from Italy and used ATMs for the majority of our expenditures and had no issues. Some ATMs limit withdrawals to 250Euros, others had higher limits. Be sure to check with your bank and confirm the daily limit per CARD. We purchased wine to ship back to the US using American Express and Capital one Credit cards with no problems. When we arrived home, Capital One had emailed us a fraud alert and asked us to verify purchases-all were ours. Fortunately, they did not block the card, but good reason to have a backup card or two. I had notified banks and cc companies in advance of our trip.
The only time we had difficulty using credit/atm cards were at the Trenitalia kiosks. Just couldn't get anything to work. Even tried the Travel Ex Chip and pin and that didn't work either. So once we found a machine that took cash, not just cards, we were good to go, and bought train tickets in cash there after.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12686 posts

.."Easy Send Visa" from our bank. Does anyone know what this is? .. Have you thought about just asking your bank??? Some financial institutions are trying to promote a preloaded card which is really similar to a gift card. Some have very high fees associated with the use of the card so read the fine print carefully.

Posted by Michael
Seattle, WA, USA
6472 posts

I'm in Italy right now and Karen is 100% right. No problem using a regular ATM card at ATMs. Also true that the ticket kiosks often won't take regular credit cards. Cash works, or go to the ticket line and buy what you need from a human. I'm surprised your friend didn't also tell you the urban legend (not true) that PINs can't start with a zero.