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Will an American touchless (RFID) card work in Sweden without a pin or signature?

Last time in Scandinavia my cards were signature. It wasn't a problem most places. The sales clerk would simply print out a slip and have me sign it. I think once or twice I needed to go to an ATM and come back with cash (smaller towns only).

I played with a true chip and PIN card (from Andrews Federal Credit Union) for a while but didn't really like them as a financial institution so closed the account after a couple of years.

Now I'm getting ready to return and have touchless credit cards that are simply "tapped", here in the U.S., rather than inserting the chip or swiping the magnetic tape. Does anyone know if they work the same in Scandinavia? My cards have a PIN associated with them but that really isn't the same as a true chip and PIN card.

Posted by
82 posts

Almost everywhere has terminals that can do either chip + or tap and pay.

My experience in Europe generally, however, is when the transaction is above about $50 equivalent, you will be required to sign anyway and may be required to use the chip rather than tap.

Posted by
27342 posts

I've been in Norway for 3 weeks, and I've been happily tapping away. I've run into a few terminals where I needed to insert my card. It seemed to be hardware-related rather than amount-dependent. I've had to sign one charge slip. It was for a small amount. I believe that was in a restaurant. Several of my hotels have submitted the room charge before arrival, when the reservation became non-refundable, and some big-ticket items had to be paid for at the time of reservation, before I left home, so I haven't had very many sizable charges processed in person. That could makea difference.

Posted by
9106 posts

The $50 limit on tap was done away with during the pandemic. I've personally purchased high-ticket items (+$1000) using tap. I did have to sign, but the tap transaction went through.

Posted by
12172 posts

Thanks. That's welcome news. It will be nice to tap in go in most circumstances, even if I'll have to sign once in a while.

Posted by
15530 posts

I was in Sweden and Finland in April and May. The only time I couldn't use contactless was on the Helsinki trams. Otherwise, it was the only way I paid.

My method of payment was Google Pay.

Posted by
20 posts

We had a problem with our cards using a taxi from the ferry port to our hotel in Umeå. The credit card machine didnt have a way to accept signatures, and multiple tries with different credit and debit cards just kept asking for a signature when we input a pin. We had to have the driver take us to an ATM. It may not have been a problem if the amount had been below some threshhold level. It was 770 kronor.
Otherwise, we were able to sign when asked. In less touristy areas in Sweden and Finland though, the cashiers were a little mystified since they hadn't encountered the need for a signature before and had to get help for the transaction.

Posted by
151 posts

That amount looks like you were using an Amex CC and only at high-end merchants or hotels. I don't know of anyone who has ever tapped anywhere near that amount with either a Visa or Mastercard CC.

I note that Michael Schneider had to tap+sign in the US. In Europe you can use tap+PIN for any amount with Visa and Mastercard.

In Sweden the threshold is 400 SEK, but maybe US rules applies for US cards? Anyway I think Google Pay/Apple Pay can be used to avoid the signing for larger amounts.

The credit card machine didnt have a way to accept signatures, and multiple tries with different credit and debit cards just kept asking for a signature when we input a pin.

If the machine asked for a signature I guess it was the taxi driver that didn't know how to handle it.

Posted by
151 posts

It makes no difference if I tap with Apple Pay or physical card in hand.

I guess your bank sets the limits then. Two Swedish banks I checked claim to have no limit on Apple Pay.

Posted by
9106 posts

That amount looks like you were using an Amex CC and only at high-end
merchants or hotels.

Not so. Credit card was a Mastercard. One purchase was for a bicycle at an independent small-town dealer.
Another for a smartphone via my cell phone provider, another was for a stay at a Hampton Inn. Hampton Inn isn't a high-end hotel.

Posted by
12172 posts

Your (my) bank sets limits on your (my) card. It's good to know what those limits are so you can plan to work around them.

I've had plenty of experiences where ATM's in Europe have specific transaction limits as well. Sometimes, a machine will only give you 150 euros when your daily limit is more than 400. Either take the 150 euros and use another ATM for more or start new at another ATM. Not every ATM has the same transaction limit.

I always suggest travelers use indoor ATM's. To me they are more secure than something outside - both personal security and the machine is less likely to be tampered with. Many ATM's have doors where you have to slide your card at the door to enter. I'm not sure they always work but I generally can swipe my U.S. based debit card and unlock the door.

My biggest issue with credit cards is in France at toll booths (sometimes metro ticket machines). I've often gone through every card in my possession, twice, before it finally lets me through. Other than that, I rarely have a problem using any card in my wallet.

Posted by
3521 posts

I don't know of anyone who has ever tapped anywhere near that amount with either a Visa or Mastercard CC.

I have. :-)

I spent considerably more than that with my MC (in one single transaction) when paying for auto repairs. The merchant seemed as surprised as I was that it actually went through with no additional action.