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Problem with Plastic in Europe

I read in National Geographic Traveler Magazine's September 2007 issue that European banks are issuing "smart cards" with an embedded chip containing account information. Apparently this switch is causing difficulties with using U.S. issued charge cards both in ATM's and in stores. As I have always used both ATM"s and plastic in my previous trips abroad it's upsetting to think I may have to carry large amounts of cash.

Has anyone experienced any problems using their ATM cards or charge cards in Italy recently as a result of this change?

DiDi

Posted by
22278 posts

Dig back through some of the prior postings and also under the Money, ATM site. It is an old problem and has been discussed forever. Yes, there can be a problem but doesn't appear to affect most ATMs.

Posted by
705 posts

I was notified only recently of this problem by my credit union but have had no problems with ATMs at all when I was in Italy recently. Obviously my cards are not US issued but until recently had not heard of this problem nor encountered problems when using my cards overseas.

Posted by
29 posts

Neither my daughter nor I had any problems with the 5 or 6 ATM and charge cards we used throughout Italy during the month of July.

Posted by
9035 posts

I read that article as well, and it specifically said you will have no problems using ATM machines. The problems occur when you are trying to make point-of-sale purchases at place like restaurants, supermarkets, and Gas Stations. As long as you stick to ATM machines you will have no problems.

Posted by
62 posts

Thank you all for your prompt replies and I am sure relieved that my spending ways won't be burdened by carrying cash.

Happy trails.

DiDi

Posted by
689 posts

We were just in Italy. We had our credit card declined by one gas station. And he said he thought it was on his end as he was having "trouble all day"... Otherwise we used two cards extensively and had no issues.

We don't use ATMs. (I know - we are old fashioned...)

Posted by
3424 posts

The poster below is a little misleading saying you will have NO problems with ATMs. We were in Italy in June, and had the following problem. We were staying near a small town, Bolsena. We were low on gas; and when we tried to fill up, the machine in the self-serve station (no attendant) rejected our cc. Also low on cash, we proceeded into town to get some. Neither of the two banks would take any of our 3 ATM cards. I happened to notice a local try, unsuccessfully, and he went off muttering imprecations in Italian. A bit later we almost lost our Amex card in another service station machine. Eventually we did get both gas and cash. When we discussed this with our hostess, she told us that such experiences were common and that the best plan was never to let either gas or cash get seriously low. It's a bit like that other travel advice about not passing up a good bathroom.

Posted by
3313 posts

The comments above square with my experience earlier this summer in both Italy and France. No trouble at ATMs or restaurants but plenty at self-serve gas stations. If you are driving, I would carry a spare 50 Euros in cash to be sure you can refuel. Otherwise, we had no troubles.

Some ATMs can be trouble for different reasons and those have been amply discussed here.

Posted by
15 posts

We've been in Italy since August 1. Had no problems in Rome with atm's or charging then went to Sorrento which was a nightmare. We couldn't find an atm anywhere that would accept any of our four cards. Repeated call to credit card companies in the US were no help. Their advice was to go into the bank and get money that way. No problems so far in Siena. Good luck!

Posted by
14254 posts

Wow, Francis - you had ATM trouble in Sorrento? My husband and I will be there for 3 nights in October and will need to access our cash that way so I'm a little worried. Anyone else had this same issue in Sorrento? Maybe we need to "cash up " in Capri (will be there the previous 2 days) before travelling to Sorrento? Also, I've only used my bank ATM, never my credit cards for getting cash so if you HAVE to go to bank, what do you give them?

Posted by
31 posts

Just returned from Italy and had no problems with cards at ATM or making purchases. Used Capital one cards ( no extra fee for their use) , American Express and a AAA cash card.