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Using US credit card for train tickets

I read that Ticket machines that accept plastic will not work with most non-European credit and ATM cards. Is that really true? I would like to use my MasterCard or else my ATM card that's part of the Cirrus network.

Posted by
3866 posts

I recall hearing that things may have gotten better, but last year, to use a ticket machine, it required a card with a chip, and ideally a PIN as well. Some that have a card with a chip, but no PIN have reported success, especially for low dollar tickets, some have reported punching in their PIN for cash advance as working, others just any 4 numbers. I used a US issued card with Chip and PIN, so no issues.

Whether your card will work depends on the card and their machines, so difficult to predict your experience. I typically do not use an ATM card for that type of transaction, but it may have a better chance of working.

If nothing else, there will be a manned ticket counter, not as convenient, but at least a back-up.

Posted by
791 posts

I have been to several small train stations in Europe that do not have manned counters.

Posted by
3407 posts

I've had to use my chip and PIN credit cards (when my chip and signature cards, which I tried first, didn't work) in Amsterdam at the ticket machines in 2015 and 2016. Two years later? Not sure. Every city is different. Just because a chip and signature card won't work in a ticket machine in the Netherlands doesn't mean it won't work at one in another country.

Cash is even better at those machines in the Netherlands: you are charged a 50 cent surcharge to use a credit card even if your card works. So if you can possibly pay with cash (you need coins, find a change machine) you'll save some money vs. a card anyway.

Posted by
1350 posts

I've had multiple experiences as well. Sometimes regular (non chip/pin) Visa worked, sometimes chip/pin card worked, sometimes I had to use my debit card, other times only cash worked. The best advice is to bring more than one option with you and keep trying until something works. If your travels allow you to reserve tickets ahead of time you could do that from home and not worry when you arrive.

You can check for Cirrus network ATM availability here https://www.mastercard.us/en-us/consumers/get-support/locate-an-atm.html Just make sure you use your debit card to get cash, not your credit card (the latter will be treated as a cash advance). If you want to cover all your bases, you might consider getting a Visa branded debit card which uses a different network (PLUS) https://www.visa.com/atmlocator/index.jsp?country=US#(page:home) .

Posted by
134 posts

Just returned and I regularly used my Mastercard branded debit card to load my OV-Chipkaart without any issues.

Posted by
165 posts

Cash is even better at those machines in the Netherlands: you are charged a 50 cent surcharge to use a credit card even if your card works.

Nowadays there is no extra fee for using a credit card at NS ticket machines. The following cards are accepted: Maestro, Masterdcard, V-pay, Visa and AmEx (but most likely only chip and pin). There is a 1 euro fee per disposable ticket regardless of the way of payment.

By the way, several stations have no longer tickets machines that accept cash. However, most tourists will not travel to/from these stations.

Another way of buying Dutch train tickets is via the NS app or online via ns.nl/en.

Posted by
128 posts

I've had chip and pin work well in multiple countries. My biggest problem with machines has been following the English language screens and those varying from system to system. Either something is lost in translation or I'm just not adapted computers or both but it takes me some time fooling around before I get it. Finding specific step by step guidance for English users of the system first is very helpful to me (man in seat 61 etc.)

Posted by
126 posts

Chip and PIN cards work best.
Ask your bank if your card fits these requirements.
RS travel for the Netherlands has good recommendations on cards.
some cards also waive the foreign transaction fees.

Posted by
15217 posts

The Netherlands has been a special, more restrictive case for a while, so recent experience specific to that country is really what's relevant. And yes, things can change.

Posted by
20 posts

We were in The Hague last week and used our Chip/Pin Visa Credit Card to buy train tickets a few times at the Yellow NS rail machines with no problem. We did have to enter our PIN number.

We also used our Chip/Pin Visa Debit Card several times at ATMs without incident.

We did have a problem using our Visa card at the Albert Heijn grocery store, however, apparently they only take MasterCard.

Posted by
165 posts

Most (if not all) AH stores dont accept credit cards, but only debit cards.

Posted by
79 posts

US cards won't work in the ticket machines as they require a signature. They will work fine in the ticket office.

Posted by
165 posts

as they require a signature

Thats why it is better to use a chip and pin credit (or debit) card. Chances will be, these will work at ticket machines.

Posted by
6779 posts

US cards won't work in the ticket machines as they require a signature.

Wrong way around. US cards won't work in ticket machines because the ticket machines require a PIN.

will not work with most non-European credit and ATM cards.

I think the problem is restricted to US cards, which do not (yet) have PIN's.
And you can use credit or debit cards, if they have a PIN.

Posted by
100 posts

I was just in Amsterdam last week. Used my Amex at Schipol to add 30EUR to my OVChipKaart (probably spelled that wrong). It did ask for a PIN. HOwever, I have also used my chip and signature Visa card at other stations (Centraal, Haarlem, Eindhoven) successfully, no PIN required. In any event, you could also go to the ticket counters.

Posted by
344 posts

Just returned from The Netherlands - our debit card worked at all the machine our but neither of our credit cards worked.

Posted by
10180 posts

In May I was in Utrecht and had to buy a train ticket. I had heard a few years back that US credit cards would not work in Holland to buy train tickets. Rather than finding out at a machine, I went directly to the ticket counter, this was late afternoon on a Sunday, bought the ticket and paid with the Visa card....don't know if the train ticket machines take US credit cards or not.

In Germany using US credit cards on a DB machine will work but you will have to punch in the credit card's PIN in order to complete the transaction.

Posted by
165 posts

In general credit cards issued by Visa, Maestro/Master Card and AmEx should work at the yellow NS ticket machines.

Posted by
4 posts

When using cash to pay, can it be american money? Or does it have to be euros?

Posted by
3866 posts

Umm...no, US Dollars will not work, only local currency will be accepted at ticket counters.

In some cases, at border communities, or some EU member countries still using their own currency, the euro may be accepted (or the nearby currency), but those are exceptions.

Of course, you can use your US credit card, the transaction will be done in local currency (hopefully) and the network will convert it.

Posted by
2664 posts

The NS online app is very convenient for ticket purchase (you just scan a barcode from the app to open gates) and it works with Creditcards. It has a full version of the interface in English as well.