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Just thought of another question! Credit cards

Does anyone have any experience in using USAA credit cards in England and Scotland?
Thank you,
Amie

Posted by
1173 posts

I used my USAA credit and debit (for ATM's) cards in England last year with no problems. I could even add to our Oyster Cards at machines. For that, I did need the PIN number for my credit card. There were no foreign transaction fees.

Posted by
3385 posts

Have used USAA credit card in both without any problems at all. Just let them know ahead of time that you will be traveling so they don't suspect fraud and "lock" it.

Posted by
691 posts

I agree with the above comments, it is so easy, in the chaos of getting ready to leave for a trip, that we forget to call the credit card company and tell them that you will be traveling. Nothing is more frustrating than to arrive at your destination and your credit card won't work! I always get about 200 in euros from my local bank before I leave so I have some spending cash when I hit the ground in Europe.

Posted by
178 posts

Isn't true that more countries & places in Europe are going with contactless credit cards? I would have your bank issue you a card with the contactless symbol on it.

Posted by
3545 posts

Tom, Canada has been using contactless cards for some years, and I had a new one when I was in UK Dec 2018. The machines didn't much like it, so I wonder if the North American system is different? I still had to sign for the transaction - which in my mind negates the whole point of a contactless card.
So, ensure you have the pin and any other details you need to CYA while abroad.

Posted by
5502 posts

MariaF, I was under the impression this was a merchant issue. That is, that some merchants required a signature above a certain dollar amount. I've had the request foe a signature come up for tap, and for ApplePay too, usually for >$100..

Posted by
5502 posts

MariaF, I was under the impression this was a merchant issue. That is, that some merchants required a signature above a certain dollar amount. I've had the request foe a signature come up for tap, and for ApplePay too, usually for >$100. In Europe I think merchants don't like debit cards

Posted by
3545 posts

No, I had to sign for groceries around 50 £ and corner store supply of under 10£. I am used to resorting to the chip and pin over 100$ as normal merchant limits at home, but thankfully that limit has been increased considerably during covid.
It's not a big deal, but I wanted to mention my experience...as yet another of life's anomalies.

Posted by
15692 posts

If they have one. You really only need it for "humanless" transactions, like ticket kiosks for transport tickets, highway toll booths, unattended gas pumps. As long as it has a chip, should work fine for hotels, restaurants, shopping.

Posted by
2917 posts

Most new replacement cards are contactless as well as chip & pin. As already stated, look for the contactless symbol on the card.

Posted by
1173 posts

No, most replacement cards are not chip and pin, they are chip and signature. Now USAA's CCs are chip and signature primary with chip and pin secondary. If the machine refuses the chip and signature the CC will (most times) function as chip and pin. I have had success with USAA CCs at standalone kiosks in Europe. However, I have had it fail at a few gas pumps in Canada.

To my knowledge, USAA does not have a contactless CC.

Posted by
22 posts

All credit and debit cards in the U.K. are chip and pin and therefore that’s what merchants expect. There’s a £45 limit on contactless transactions- if the amount is higher then it reverts to chip and pin.

Posted by
11203 posts

MariaF - what you have to do when using a credit card at a machine depends on the machine, as well as other factors.

Allegedly, whether or not you have to sign when using the chip on a card is supposed to be dependent on the amount (above a certain amount, you sign; below this, you don't). But that's not always my experience.

At one of my supermarkets, I have to sign even when I use contactless. And that's for any amount (one purchase was under $5, and I still had to sign). Before contactless, I also had to sign for any amount at this store.

At another supermarket, I just tap and I'm done, for any amount. I once bought about $140 worth there, and all I had to do was tap. And even before I got contactless, this store (Trader Joes) had done away with signing - again, even for high amounts.

The wildest is my dentist. I haven't tried contactless there, but I have to swipe, then insert the chip, and then sign!

Remember, all of these are in New York, so not only same country, but same city, and still three different procedures.

Aimebelle - When you go to the UK, you'll see that all the locals are using contactless cards for everything they can. If your card is contactless, you're all set. If not, you'll use chip and sign, as the vast majority of US cards are not set up for chip and pin. As I said above, whether or not you have to sign can depend on the particular set up of the merchant, so just go with the flow.

Also, a tip I got from our regular poster Nigel. If you use Apple Pay, you can use it in the UK for any amount. At least, he hasn't found an amount that will be rejected, and he's used it for major purchases over £1000. The limit for contactless card payment in the UK used to be £30, but in the pandemic times it has been raised to £45.

Posted by
275 posts

We have used USAA credit and debit cards on our travels for as long as I can remember. All over Europe, including England and Scotland, no issues. They make it really easy to set a travel notification online yourself, so you do not need to call.

Posted by
4944 posts

Regarding having to sign or not sign when using a chipped card, it does have to do with the amount charged, the the exact amount is dependent on both the card issuer and the merchant.

The card issuer may allow "no signature" and then sets upper dollar limits based on type of transaction (Fuel, Grocery, Retail, Dining, etc.)

The merchant can either accept "no signature" and accept the default limit or set a lower limit, and if you a large enough merchant (think Walmart), you probably can negotiate a higher limit.

So with your card, that is why you go to one place and do not have to sign for $40, and then have to sign for $5 at another shop.

As a result of reducing contact during transactions, Dollar limits buy merchants and issuers I notice were raised or even removed, Lowes for example eliminated signatures as a Covid response.

I could add more detail on Use of a chipped card in Europe, but similar situations exist on whether your Chip and Signature card will be accepted at an unmanned kiosk with no PIN.

Posted by
47 posts

Hi Amie,

I live in the UK and my USAA credit card is the primary card I use here. I have had no problems using it here, though I do have to sign for purchases often. I'd recommend getting Apple Pay on your phone before you come here as they accept it (basically) everywhere here. That is how I buy most everything now. Cheers.