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"Packing" credit cards

We tried to follow Rick's advice today and called four credit card companies to request a PIN number. Only the card we got just last month from USAA, which arrived with a PIN, has a PIN. American Express, Citi AAdvantage, and Marriott Visa all basically said "Huh??" when my husband inquired about a PIN. We've never had a problem, but it's been three years since we were in Europe and were just basically trying to take Rick's advice, but no can do. Just thought I'd share our experience.

Posted by
9110 posts

Mr Steves is not god.

All will be well.

Press on.

Posted by
186 posts

LOL. I was at the bank today ignoring his advice about stepping off the plane or train and using the ATM when you arrive at your destination. I'm not comfortable without (for this trip) euros, forints and koruna already in my pocket!

Posted by
21857 posts

I thought for sure that all credit cards have a pin number for cash withdraws at ATMs. We always have the pin numbers so that the credit cards withdraws is our third line of defense should both the debit cards fail. Now, we have never had a failure of the first debit card so we have never had to used a credit card for withdraw but we still have the pin number.

Posted by
9110 posts

Iran is the only country in the world where you can't get money with a regular ATM card at the point of entry.

Stop sweating.

Maybe North Korea. Report to follow next month.

Posted by
1220 posts

While credit cards normally have a pin, it's usually associated with getting a cash advance at an ATM, and since most people don't want to pay the significant transaction costs that usually come with that kind of transaction, they throw the mailing with the PIN on it in the same semi-junk drawer as the cat's vaccination records and forget about it.

Posted by
18378 posts

My cat's vaccination record is sitting right in front of me on my desk. Do I have a PIN from my credit cards. I don't know (nor do I care).

My third line of defense is another debit card.

Posted by
8507 posts

Those pins come from the credit card issuer. The banks don't have a clue what your pin number is. Like the posters, I've never used a credit card for a cash advance.

Posted by
103 posts

I have a PIN for my American Express card. It's not for chip & pin purchasing (there's no chip anyway) but for ATM cash advances. It didn't come automatically. I had to call, request ATM cash advance authorization, and then wait for my PIN to come in the mail. Possibly, cash advances aren't available with whatever type of AmEx card you have. Mine is a Gold Delta SkyMiles card. I haven't used it to get cash yet -- just got it as a backup in case there was a problem with my bank's ATM card on a recent foreign trip.

Posted by
21857 posts

I have the same card but don't use it in Europe because it is not widely accepted. Second, I am not sure it would work at an ATM. The ATM needs to be support by a network (Plus, Cirrus are the most common) I looked on my AE card but it does not list the network or networks that it will use. If you need the back up you might want to stick with a Master or Visa card which we know will work.

Posted by
186 posts

I'm quite mystified that no one offered a PIN for at least the cash advance option (two debit cards from different bank accounts would have to freeze up before we'd get cash that way).

Rick's books say: "Ask for your credit card's PIN in case you need to make an emergency cash withdrawal or encounter Europe's "chip-and-PIN" system; the bank won't tell you your PIN over the phone, so allow time for it to be mailed to you."

But as I said, three card companies seemed puzzled at the request.

Posted by
103 posts

Frank -- I know about the shrinking base of merchants accepting AmEx. Back in July on vacation in Canada, I discovered that quite a few places in Ontario have stopped accepting it, and merchants here in the Detroit area are also dropping it because of the higher fees they must pay and bookkeeping requirements they must meet. I also got the PIN for my Mastercard -- the AmEx was my Plan C in case everything else failed. I do like to use the AmEx abroad whenever I can in order to avoid the foreign transaction fees.

Posted by
1957 posts

Chase has started offering 'chip-and-signature' cards in the USA, some of which don't have foreign transaction fees.
I used one this August for credit transactions in restaurants and hotels, but as most of us say, the better choice is debit cards in an ATM.
(It annoyed me that another Chase credit card was assessed foreign transaction fees when using it on the SNCF website linked from the RS website!)

Posted by
21857 posts

Marc, the point I was trying to make is that Plan C, an Am Ex as a cash advance at an ATM, might not work so you don't have a Plan C. I don't know if it would work or not but just suggesting that if you truly want a workable Plan C, then should opt for a credit card that you know for sure that works on an acceptable network. There are many credit and debit cards that do not charge a foreign currency conversion fee.

Avirosemail, it was your Chase credit card that assessed the transaction fees. The site does not assess fees. It is the card issuer that determines all fees after the credit card has been processed by the network.

Posted by
18378 posts

Why do people worry if a credit card charges a foreign exchange fee for a cash advance? It's only for an emergency anyway. You'll pay even more for the cash advance fee and have to pay outrageous interest from the day of the cash advance.

Posted by
6511 posts

Personally I would only ever use a credit card for larger purchases in Europe (hotels, rental cars, high end restaurants, etc) and for that it's nice to have no foreign transaction fees added to the costs. I would never ever consider a credit card for a cash advance. Always have a backup debit card (or two) from different accounts in case one didn't work for some reason. On my last trip this summer (5 weeks traveling around central Europe) I only used my credit card twice - both times for train tickets, and then it was mostly to test whether they worked or not (new chip & sig card), I always withdrew cash from ATM's to pay for everything else - even hotels. The only reason I took the credit card was for a real emergency such as unexpected medical procedure or something and in that case I wouldn't be worrying about what the foreign transaction fee might be.

Posted by
186 posts

OP here. So today I decided I needed to carry one credit card that would not be linked to anything in my husband's wallet. I have a Chase/AmazonRewards card that I use strictly for brownie points when buying on Amazon. Their "let us know you are traveling" process was completely automated, no human intervention at all. As I was going through the process of notifying them that I would be traveling, one of the options was "request a PIN for cash advances". So as soon as I finished the travel notification I did a "request PIN" -- again completely automated. We leave in about 12 days and the PIN may or may not arrive in time, but I did want to report back that we'd found at least one credit card that willingly offered up a PIN number. Of course we hope to never ever have to use it because doing so would mean something has gone horribly wrong!

Posted by
11613 posts

Capital One gives a pin number option where you choose your own pin number; I just activated a replacement card and kept the old pin number, the entire activation and pin-choice took less than a minute over the phone.

Posted by
220 posts

Faith you should get your PIN from Chase in about 2 business days -- note if you and your husband both have a card with the same number the PIN is the same for both. Just to make sure it works go to an ATM (we used a Chase one but you probably don't have to) put the card in and enter the PIN and do a balance request (rather than a cash advance) to make sure they both work.

I had a couple of shops in Venice ask if I had a PIN when I used my Chase card -- the first one I didn't understand what he was asking so he shrugged, pushed a button and gave me a slip to sign, the other I nodded that I had a PIN she handed me the credit card reader and I entered it.

Posted by
6511 posts

Somebody help Eileen up off the floor, I think she fainted.

Posted by
21857 posts

We have the pin number for every card we have. Which probably is about six but a couple are used very infrequently. So we don't forget the pin number associated with the card we encode the number on the back of the card. Better to have it even if you never need it.

Posted by
2742 posts

I called to get my PIN from a capital one account. Just call the 800 number on the card and request one "for cash advance". They will mail it - so do it a couple weeks ahead. I've never needed it, but my checking account doesn't have a ton of cash (just what I'll need for a few weeks plus a small cushion), and my savings isn't linked to a card so if there were an emergency and I needed thousands in cash I'd have it available.

Posted by
6511 posts

I can't imagine why anyone would want more than one credit card with a PIN for cash advances. That's such a poor way to get cash and if necessary in an emergency it would still be best to only use one credit card for that purpose. If you're talking about PINs for purchases, that is only with a true Chip & Pin card, not a mag strip card. We're all still waiting impatiently for that to become the norm with US credit cards.