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The never-ending credit card problem with Trenitalia

Does anyone have any ideas as to what can be done to correct the annoying problem booking train reservations using US credit cards on Trenitalia? I am returning to Italy for the 7th time next month, and once again, I am unable to take advantage of advance booking discounts as significant as 30%. In contrast, I have obtained train tickets online for several other countries in Europe using my credit card with absolutely no problem at all. In the interest of promoting tourism, I think Trenitalia should have found a better solution by now -- or at least offer some sort of explanation on their website. It's possible they just don't care, but they certainly should.

Posted by
62 posts

Thanks, Larry. Last time around, I contacted the Italian Tourist Board in New York City. I get the impression they know this is detrimental, but nobody is doing anything to correct it. Enough already! If Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium and most other European countries can figure it out, Trenitalia should too!

Posted by
2876 posts

This is from the Trenitalia website:

"Payment by Visa and MasterCard:
To guarantee greatest customer security, the international Visa and MasterCard circuits require that credit card transactions respect the following security measures:
the typing in of a three-digit security number on the back of the credit card, near the area reserved for the signature.
the authentication by the customer on the appropriate pop up, managed directly by Bankpass, using data that have been given previously to that same customer by the card issuer ("Verified by Visa" and "SecurCode" standard)."

Maybe the problem is that your credit cards haven't got that extra level of security (e.g., "verified by Visa" or "Securecode"). If you google "verified by Visa" you'll see an explanation. "Securecode" is the Mastercard equivalent.

Posted by
8940 posts

The Verified by Visa/MasterCard issue had been discussed before...even with that function it still won't work for most. Those do that do managed to purchase a ticket get blocked when they try to purchase another ticket a few days later. So my theory is they are intentionally/knowingly blocking US credit cards. Haven't got a clue why.

Posted by
8940 posts

The Verified by Visa/MasterCard issue had been discussed before...even with that function it still won't work for most. Those do that do managed to purchase a ticket get blocked when they try to purchase another ticket a few days later. So my theory is they are intentionally/knowingly blocking US credit cards. Haven't got a clue why.

Posted by
2876 posts

If someone follows all the steps Trenitalia lays out, and their card is still rejected, shouldn't they be complaining to Visa/Mastercard?

My understanding is that if a merchant accepts Visa/Mastercard, they have to be able to accept ALL Visa/Mastercards, regardless of country of origin.

Posted by
6898 posts

Dick, I have researched this a bit. It seems that much has to do with the Italian credit card processing company that handles the Trenitalia online credit card purchases. I'm not sure if this blockage is Trenitalia, the credit card processing company or both. I asked Trenitalia to provide me with a contact name at the credit card processing company so that I could speak with them but I never received any information. I've been wanting to visit the Italian consultate to see if that could do any good but I haven't done this yet.

Posted by
96 posts

Dick, you mentioned that you went off to the Tourist Board in NYC ~ is it possible to get train tickets directly from them? Or say, the Roma Pass? If that were the case then at last a tiny, tiny portion of us could manage the problem this way. Not that its a solution so much as a method around the problem.

Posted by
2876 posts

I'd be curious as to whether Dick's rejected card had "Verified by Visa" or "Securecode" protection.

Posted by
6898 posts

Hi Tom, I am registered with "Verified by Visa" and the VBV ID comes up on the Trenitalia site, I type in my password and I still get rejected. I have also directly contacted Verified by Visa and there is nothing they can do. Their job is to provide the more secure method of ID for the card user. They have no control over the customers who don't choose to use it.

Posted by
2876 posts

Hi Larry, I'm married to a wonderful woman of Italian descent whom I love dearly, but I can vouch for the fact that some things Italian defy all explanation.

Posted by
7737 posts

Yeah, welcome to Italy! Just because something makes sense to our American way of thinking (make credit card purchases easier) doesn't mean there's an incentive in the Italian bureaucracy to change the existing way of doing things. It's part of their charm. :-)

Posted by
1170 posts

You can't pre-purchase your Trenitalia tickets online using a US issued credit card. You just can't do it, period. It is virtually impossible to take advantage of discounts, as generally they apply only to citizens of the EU. You can't even get a Senior Citizens discount as it is only available to EU citizens. They want your tourist dollars and they want all of them. Just buy your tickets at the train station and don't fret about discounts. They don't apply to us.

Posted by
62 posts

As stated in the Rick Steves FAQ: The Trenitalia website does NOT accept US credit cards. I'm 100%sure the problem is not unique to my card or situation. Strangely enough, I've never had a problem getting my train tickets once I arrive in Italy using the same credit card that they reject on line -- Still, it seems unfortunate to me that most Americans cannot take advantage of the discounts and added convenience that comes from pre-booking. Scott and Michael, you said it best -- I give up.

Posted by
4152 posts

What ever the reason, this problem has been going on for years and the people at the trenitalia site know about it. They are not interested in fixing the problem so the only thing we can do is keep trying and hoping they will fix the problem. Really, when you think about it there is no motivation for them to fix the problem. We'll still go to Italy and buy train tickets (at the full price) for the travel we need to do. I don't mind waiting until I get to Italy and I have never found a train that was sold out. Buying tickets when there is very quick and easy so I don't even bother worrying about it anymore.

Donna

Posted by
132 posts

Did you check with your credit card company?

We had a similar problems with getting tickets to the Vatican Museum.

When the Credit Card Company noticed a number of charges coming from europe, they thought theft, and started blocking the charges.

Posted by
4152 posts

It has nothing to do with fraud, it is the way the trenitalia site is set up. They don't take credit cards issued from North America or Australia.

I always advise people to let their banks and credit card companies know when and where they will be on vacation in order to prevent fraud holds being put on their cards. You can easily do this by visiting your bank and calling the credit card companies a week or so before your trip.

Donna

Posted by
672 posts

Perhaps it was a matter of the stars being lined up properly, but I actually was able to purchase tickets, at a greatly reduced price, on the Trenitalia site on July 31st. This was after many unsuccessful attempts. I used my Capital One card and it went through just like magic. The reason I tried that particular day was that someone else posted on this site that they had just purchased Trenitalia tickets with their Capital One card. So, it's not that they never accept US credit cards, but it seems pretty rare.

Posted by
4555 posts

I think it was Lee who posted earlier that Treniltalia lays all the problem off on the firm that processes their credit card orders.,...the same excuse they've given me. It does seem to be a problem with processing BIN numbers...with the vast majority of their business coming from Italians and other Europeans, the firm used by Trenitalia seems to be lax in getting the myriad of American BINs entered. With only half a dozen major banks responsible for issuing the vast majority of credit cards in Canada, it's a comparatively easy job to enter them.
But the fact we've had two successful purchases with Capital One cards recently gives us cause for hope. You all should keep trying, and let us know if your card makes it through.

Posted by
83 posts

I had no problem using my VISA card when I booked tickets online.

If it is a VISA problem, it maybe doesn't effect Canadians.

I missed out on a couple of discounts as I was under the impression I couldn't buy in advance online due to the CC issues but I finally decided to just try the one day and it worked fine.

Hope it gets resolved as it can be a nice savings if you know what you want in advance.

Posted by
4152 posts

Some people do get through and are able to buy tickets but for the most part it just frustrates them and they end up getting angry. I've heard of people who were able to buy tickets once and tried a second time with the same card and couldn't. They were rejected again. It's worth trying but if it doesn't work just understand that it's the website and not anything you are doing wrong.

Donna

Posted by
62 posts

UPDATE!! Based on the feedback I received to my posting, I decided to get a CapitalOne credit card and then give train reservations on Trenitalia another try. I am pleased to report that my transaction with CapitalOne went through just fine and I was able to take advantage of the 30% advance booking discount (meno30). I've tried many times before using other US credit cards with no luck. CapitalOne offers another advantage as well: NO foreign transaction fees. Thanks to all! Hope this information is of some use to others experiencing the same problem.

Posted by
29 posts

Assuming I can get my card to go through...we're interested in 2d class on the FRECCIAROSSA, what should I select for seat assignment choices? We'd like 2 seats side by side, preferably without a middle seat- is that possible?

Posted by
2828 posts

@LaVee: Trenitalia's newer trains don't have middle seats. They are either organized in airline-style carriages or 4X4 face-seating ones (two rows of 2 seats facing one another in each side of the aisle). First class will be usually a 2+1 arrangement. Buying tickets together usually ensures you will travel on the same row.

Posted by
4360 posts

Woo-Hoo!!! Success! And a debit card at that; hmmmmmmm.........I wouldn't have expected that.........WATCH YOUR BANK ACCOUNT LIKE A HAWK...Italy is known for its credit card theft problem...I'd contact my bank to have them put a 'watch' on all future purchases...[like parkas in Germany, Rolexes in Austria, skis in Italy...;-) ] I'd hate for your account to get emptied.

Posted by
28 posts

I just booked a ticket on the Trenitalia website using my VISA-branded debit card. It worked perfectly, and I was able to book the 30% advance purchase discount.