We'll be in traveling in Italy in the spring, and will be renting a car there for the first time. I've seen a post somewhere regarding problems with Capital One cards (we have the Venture card) in gas stations there. We travel with the Venture card, an Alaska Airlines Visa (backup) and our bank's debit card...not sure about pins on the Visas but I can deal with that. We've used the Capital One card extensively internationally and have never had an issue. Has anyone had problems with either card at gas stations in Italy, or elsewhere in Europe for that matter? I've gone back through the Forum and can't see a clear answer, so your input would be great! Thank you!!
The problems arise when the stations are closed, Sundays, evenings, and often for several hours midday, and you have to use a self service pump. I can't remember ever having a problem when there was a live person at the enterprise. One solution is to be extremely vigilant about keeping your tank topped up. Also keep in mind that stations on the autostrade are almost always open, and somewhere at them there will be a person to take your card or cash.
Type of card is less an issue (as long as it is Visa or Mastercard) but whether the card is PIN capable is. Many cards have chips now, but few have a PIN for transactions other than Cash Advance in an ATM. Determine that first, if you have a PIN, then there should be no problem. If not, others have reported (and I have experienced) that small dollar transactions (less than $25 or $50) may go through at unattended kiosks and if you are asked for a PIN, just type in your Cash Advance PIN or a random four digit number and it will go through.
Otherwise, you may need to seek out stations that are manned and have the clerk process the card.
Gas stations are manned from 7am to 7pm more or less, with up to 2 hr lunch break, on Mon through Sat (except holidays). On toll freeways, they are always manned. You won't have trouble fueling up at manned stations. In all other circumstances, gas stations are totally unmanned. In that case, even if your card doesn't work, the machines take Euro bills. Just make sure you don't put too much because they give no change if you can't fit all the gasoline you prepurchase in the tank. Typically a small car has a 40 liter tank (a bit over 50euro for a full tank), so if you are at half tank just put no more than 20 euro.
Thanks so much for the information...I really appreciate all the good ideas and advice on this forum.
Yeah, with a US based credit card it is unlikely you can use your credit card if the station is unmanned at the time.
This is because in most of Europe (not just Italy) you will need to sign the receipt when/where you use the card.
It doesn't matter if credit or debit, I am not aware of a US issued card that will not default to signature in Europe.
If manned, no issues using your card
If unmanned but the pumps are open they should accept cash so you can always pay that way just won't be able to get change if you overpay. Happened to me in Venice when returning a rental car around lunch hours, needed to fill the tank and only and large bills so drastically overpaid.
In Norway, I just ran into the same issue. There was is never an attendee outside, so had to select Cash at the pump (realized only after repeated declines trying to use credit at the pump), pump the gas and then go inside and pay with my credit card.
Gas stations are one of the only possible issues you can encounter.