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Debit card + pin?

Hello, and thank you all for the wonderful tips to enhance our upcoming trip...
We are prepared to sign up for a credit card with chip/pin feature, but are wondering if our debit card which is also a MasterCard and has a chip and pin # would suffice.
Thanks, and happy travels!

Posted by
5138 posts

For us, these cards serve 2 different purposes. Debit card is used for ATM cash withdrawals only. Credit cards are used for purchases when we don't want to use cash.. We do this because debit cards, if hacked, could wipe out your account. Credit cards have more security.

Posted by
8245 posts

We use credit cards when traveling anytime we can. We use a credit union ATM card for day to day spending money that has no service charges. My Wells Fargo ATM charges $5 and 5% on any cash withdrawal. Credit cards give you charge back rights and terms that are superior to ATM cards.

We carry two ATM cards and two credit cards in case there is a foulup. You would be surprised how little cash you can get by with on most trips.

Posted by
14285 posts

Are you wanting to use it to get cash out of your ATM or will you also want to use it as a credit card?

I travel solo and I take 2 debit cards (local credit union and a money market account) and 2 credit cards (Visa and AMEX). I've had one of my debit cards lock up when I tried to use it even though I had notified my CU in person of travel plans. Fortunately I had the back up debit for cash until my brother could contact the CU and get things straightened out.

Posted by
2797 posts

If you use the credit card to obtain cash from an ATM it will be treated as a"cash advance" and upwards of 20% interst epr annum will be charged immediately, daily,. until paid off.

Posted by
255 posts

As many previous posts on this subject have stated, there are security advantages of using credit cards instead of debit cards which are attached directly to your checking account. In addition, Norway is a practically cashless society. We were there for 2 weeks last summer and never needed cash once. We used credit cards for absolutely everything, including buying a basket of strawberries at a very rural roadside fruit stand. We were prepared to use an ATM if needed, but it never was. Have a great trip Norway is wonderful.

Posted by
5837 posts

It's been about five years since our last trip to Norway but even back then credit card acceptance was very high, even signature cards. Norway and Scandinavia are very modern. The only essential cash was coinage for the pay toilets.

Posted by
4535 posts

I would get the credit card if you'd also use it not just for vacation. As noted, credit cards offer more protection in the event your card is compromised. I'd avoid using a debit card out of the country except of course for the ATM and as a backup option if your regular credit card doesn't work.

Posted by
2 posts

I appreciate all the feedback! We will plan on the debit as back-up, and apply for chip+pin credit card.
Thanks again!

Posted by
1829 posts

Don't get too confused with the pin

If your debit card is a mastercard and has a chip it will work the same as a credit card with a chip ; only differences could be for car rental (where it might be frowned upon, same as in the US) and for security reasons where credit cards offer more protection.

The whole thing about pin for a US bank issued card is only good for ATM machines in Europe.
The US bank cards always default to signature before PIN so the pin is useless for those type of transactions.

If the processing machine is not equipped to accept a signature card it will not work.
If you are pumping gas for example you need the station to be open and you will need to go inside and sign the receipt if at a self service pump.

For the most part though Norway is mostly cashless and most every merchant and other location works with our signature first US cards. These cards are said to be chip and pin but the cards default to signature first and never allow the pin when using for a purchase and not a cash advance.

The only issues I had were the gas station thing as mentioned which was no big deal but maybe could be late at night ; and like another poster said I too went to a farmstand to buy fresh berries and this farmer did not have a reader that worked with signature.
They explained to me it cost more for them to have that type so they don't pay extra for it.
I tried 3 cards ; 1 debit Visa and 2 other credit cards all had chips none of them would work with their reader since it had no ability for the signature.
We had no cash, they ended up giving us the berries for free. We felt bad and at first refused but they insisted said they were going to throw away any unsold berries anyway and had far too many.
That should tell you something of how nice the typical Norwegian you will encounter is.

Posted by
1829 posts

If anyone finds a US bank issued credit card that works other than the way I described in Europe ; please let us travelers now.
As of now it is still an issue ; though a very minor one especially in Norway.

Posted by
7724 posts

Nearly all US issued cards now have "chips" in them and they fall into three categories:

  • Chip and Signature: You will likely have a PIN, but it is intended for Cash Withdrawals from an ATM, so when you use it, a slip will print out and you sign. At Kiosks and other unattended sale points, the card may still work, usually for low dollar (under $25 or under $50), though some have reported that you may be prompted for a PIN, punching in your PIN, or in some cases any 4 digit number seems to work, leading me to believe that you are just completing a step in that case, not validating the transaction. For higher dollar transactions where no signature is possible, this card will not work, and possibly even for low Dollar transactions (example of the previous poster)This type of card is probably 90+% of the cards out there. I probably have 3 or 4 cards like this.

  • Chip and Pin with Signature Priority: In this case you will either be assigned a PIN or will choose one that can be used for transactions. In this case, Signature still has priority, so when you go to use it in Europe, if the terminal has the capability to accept a signature, that is what you will do. If not, then it will prompt you for a PIN. This type of card is important for unattended points of sale (Gas Pumps, Tolls, Ticket Machines, etc.) where you might have a higher dollar transaction. I have a Chase issued card on a business account like this, works well in Europe. Others frequently mention Andrews Federal Credit Union as a source for this type of card. Of the cards out there, this and the Chip and Signature account for probably 99.9 percent of US issued cards.

  • Chip and PIN with PIN Priority: This is probably the most secure option, and really what all US credit should be. When you use the card, you will be prompted for a PIN for nearly all but low dollar transactions. There are maybe only a handful of different cards issued in the US like this. I do have one though through the United Nations Federal Credit Union (UNFCU), I am even prompted for a PIN when I use it in the US (confuses most clerks) except where signature is the only option.

This list is a good reference, though starting to get out of date, all are PIN cards, only two issuers make PIN priority. :

Here is another page with some information:

Long story short, if you are going to the trouble to get a new card, make very sure it is a true chip and pin and that the PIN is used for transactions. Many places will call their Chip and Signature cards Chip cards or even chip and PIN, but are not. PIN priority is nice, but just harder to find.

Posted by
255 posts

If you go back and look you will see that past posters have reported a variety of experiences with US "chip & whatever" CCs. Thus, I hesitated to respond to mreynolds: "If you are pumping gas for example you need the station to be open and you will need to go inside and sign the receipt if at a self service pump" because I'm sure that their report reflected their experience. All I can say is it did not match mine. Since mreynolds did ask "If anyone finds a US bank issued credit card that works other than the way I described in Europe ; please let us travelers now", I will repeat my own experiences. We filled up our rental car 5 times in Norway. Some of the fills were at open & attended gas stations, at least 2 that I clearly recall were at automated gas stations with NO attendant (even during the daytime). In no case did I need to sign a receipt, indeed sometimes it would have been impossible since there was nobody to hand me one. In each case I used my PIN. I had no issues except that some kiosks provided no receipt. I later was told that there is a method to request the kiosk to provide a receipt but I didn't have another opportunity to try it. FWIW, I use USAA Savings Bank Visa cards that have a chip, default to signature (e.g. at restaurants where we always signed) and back up to PINs (which worked at automated ticket kiosks, gas stations, and automated lockers). Other posters have reported using the same card, as well as other banks' CCs that were trouble free.

Posted by
4535 posts

The whole thing about pin for a US bank issued card is only good for
ATM machines in Europe. The US bank cards always default to signature
before PIN so the pin is useless for those type of transactions.

This is not accurate. There are plenty of US cards that have a PIN as a secondary validation where signatures are not available. In such cases, the machine will automatically prompt you for a PIN. To be sure, not all cards are like this, but if the bank issues a PIN with the card, it almost for sure is intended to work as a secondary validation. The fine print of the card offer should describe the PIN usage.

Posted by
2523 posts

My personal experience in Norway in 2016 using the Andrews Federal Credit Union "chip and PIN" card was about 50-30-20. Half the time it spit out a receipt to sign (generally at restaurants, hotels, stores), 30 percent of the time asked for PIN, the other 20 percent neither option (just paid and left). About the same ratios in Denmark. I had to use my debit card to purchase a couple of things (train tickets in Denmark) because the Andrews card didn't work and I didn't have cash on hand. Do what you can to use the debit card just to get cash - since it is directly linked to your checking or savings account, you'll want to minimize liability (or make sure you very, very carefully read the terms and conditions of your bank agreement to find out what fraudulent activities are covered if something goes awry). And it goes without saying, make sure the bank holder of every single card knows you're traveling overseas.

Posted by
4639 posts

I’m finding this thread contradictory.

I’m planning to travel to Norway with chip and signature cards (without knowledge of PIN) and ATM card w/o chip.

Is this asking for trouble?

Posted by
3521 posts

Get the PIN for the credit card. Your card issuer will tell you it is only for cash advances -- they lie. Use the PIN when making purchases with the credit card in Europe when the machine asks for one. You will never be charged for a cash advance when using the PIN to make a purchase that does not result in you receiving cash during the transaction..

Is your ATM card an ATM only card? That is one without a Visa or MasterCard emblem on it? If so, your chances are getting slim of it working outside the US. If it does have the Visa MasterCard logo on it, those networks have demanded that bank owned ATMs support them until at lest 2020 without chips. My non chipped debit card still works fine everywhere in the world.

Posted by
107 posts

Remember to ask for you credit card PIN well ahead of time. Bank of America would only send a PIN through snail mail and not issue it over the phone or through email. Your bank may do the same. FWIW I used my Visa card in Scotland in November and never asked for my pin. Always signed just like at home. Not sure what type of card it is, but I had the PIN just in case. Happy travels!

Posted by
1829 posts

Not sure why recent experience is a little different than others
In my case it was not an issue or would affect negatively less than 1% of visitors to Norway.

To recap I had to go in and sign at gas stations when an attendant was not at the pump to complete the transaction by signing a receipt while other European CC holders did not need to do that as they entered a pin on the machine instead.
My experience with this is identical in other countries in Europe as well where in Italy for example I remember during lunch hours having to use Cash as my credit cards were declined ; gas pump automated machine open but no human around and inside closed for lunch. Fortunately those machines accepted cash ; the ones in Norway probably do as well. The Italian pumps no change by the machine is given if paying in cash.

Similarly at restaurants I never had issues ; but did have to sign where other diners with European cards would enter a pin instead of signing.

My other time was a Berry Stand and the owner mentioned to me her bank/credit card processer offers her the option of signature but charges her extra so she declined to pay for that since she sells more to locals and other Europeans. In my case I was not able to enter a pin and the transactions where declined. This was a very small transaction and a was on a side street farmstand in Valdall so likely not on the usual visitor route.

As a whole it is not an issue and I found Norway to be as close to a cashless society / country as one will find. Credit type purchases even for small amounts is the norm ; much more so than in the US

The cards I have since I am a little confused I guess compared to others experience are cards usually recommended as some of the best travel cards issued by US banks. Both have chips and are fairly newly issued.
Chase Sapphire Reserve (which I am 90% sure I assigned a pin to ; as stated by others the bank will tell you to assign a pin for cash advances)
Charles Schwab Visa for my Debit card (which has a pin of course since it is a debit card)
In the case of the Berry Stand I tried these 2 cards as well as a credit card my wife carries in her name ; a Chase Sapphire Preferred (I have no clue if we assigned a pin ever to that)

I was of the opinion that my cards are all of the •Chip and Pin with Signature Priority type that Paul described in his helpful post. I was not aware any US banks where issuing Chip and Pin with Pin Priority ; which is how all of the European cards are but guess some are now offering that though rare.

Posted by
7724 posts

Get the PIN for the credit card. Your card issuer will tell you it is only for cash advances -- they lie. Use the PIN when making purchases with the credit card in Europe when the machine asks for one.

For the benefit of other travelers, I would scale this advice back a bit. If your card is a Chip and Signature, it may very well work in automated sales kiosks by punching in you Cash Advance PIN, but that is likely because the transaction amount is low dollar. Many cards will allow $25 or $50 Dollars with no validation. I would not want to depend on that card at an unattended Gas pump where I may need the equivalent of $80 of fuel.

As for travelling with only a Chip and Signature and an ATM card; it should be no problem. You may have to make an effort to do transactions where there is a person present (Get fuel during the day, go to a ticket counter rather than a machine) and have cash as a backup, but I would try your credit card in most cases, as another poster pointed out, a transaction not going through may be a smaller percentage of most transactions.

Posted by
4535 posts

Agree with Paul - If a bank issues a card without a PIN, getting one they designate only for using as cash advances in an ATM may not even work for purchase transactions. Maybe it will, but I would never rely on that.

And there is always a lot of confusion and mis-information on this board, even from long-time contributors, about how US credit cards work in Europe.