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have you used BofA Travel Rewards card in Europe as chip-and-pin?

According to the webpage under the section "Chip cards with PIN and no foreign transaction fee" the BofA Travel card is:

No annual fee. Has a PIN available as a backup.

I read this as meaning it is signature priority but supports PIN so it could be used at an unattended machine such as in a train station.

Is there anyone out there who has this card and successfully used it in Europe at an unattended machine after entering a PIN?

This last part in bold is important to know if it is one of the 2 types of PIN card. Just because a card works in an unattending machine does not mean it supports PIN technology; the card and the machine do a little negotiation electronically and it is possible to configure both so that low value transactions are approved without any authentication (eg. PIN)

The unfortunate thing is even if the card is a PIN card it might not be the offline verification so the test above can't distinguish between them. There is a less secure variant of a PIN card that uses online verification and it is possible that an unattending machine would only support offline. On the other hand if someone has had the experience of using a machine and entering a PIN it must at least be one of the 2 PIN types.

And yes, I did call BofA to ask. The people manning the phones have no clue. I got some kid who slowly repeated the sentence I asked as if he could comprehend the question if he just said it slowly. Have fun yourself: call BofA and ask "Do you have any chip-and-PIN credit cards that support online PIN verification?"

Posted by
2518 posts

Bill, when I call any customer assistance line and the person with whom I am speaking obviously either does not know the answer or doesn't understand the question, I always ask to speak to a supervisor. Dealing with a bank here in the States last week, I had to go "up the ladder" three times before my problem was solved. Usually you'll find someone who knows the answer and doesn't just read a script.

Posted by
4499 posts

If I understand your question correctly, you won't actually get an answer because different machines can have different verification systems. For example, people here report that on French toll roads, a CC with PIN sometimes works in one toll plaza but not on another one down the road. That's because different toll plazas are run by different vendors and some have systems that work with US PINs and some don't. And as you note, some machines are set to accept low value transactions with no verification (PIN or signature).

In general, a PIN backup for transactions will work most of the time that a signature is not possible.

Posted by
3282 posts

I used my BofA Travel Visa credit card extensively in Europe over the past 2 years and it has worked everywhere I used it. I bought a lot of train tickets in Italy at unattended kiosks with it using the PIN when requested. I bought lots of Oyster top off in London but was never asked for a PIN. Paid for multiple fast food meals and sit down meals. Anything under about €30 did not require a PIN on my last trip. Sometimes on the larger transactions, like my Paris hotel, I got a receipt to sign.

History on the CHIP & PIN cards: They were meant to be all offline when created. The various credit card companies wanted to expand acceptance of their cards into the newly opened eastern European countries, but the telephone infrastructure was marginal so no constant online connection for authorizations. Losses were too high using manual authorizations because merchants didn't want to take the time and effort to do it correctly. So the CHIP & PIN process was invented where the CHIP basically self authorizes offline based on the PIN entered. Worked great - until the US decided to jump onboard but with completely different rules.

And I agree that the help desk people are clueless. They are trained to follow a script and answer only how the script tells them. They are punished if they deviate in the least from the script. You would think the scripts for Travel Cards would allow a bit more flexibility when it comes to questions about travel! All of the answers you get seem to be as the question relates to travel within the US and they will flat out lie to you about what it takes to get a PIN and what the PIN is used for. And they really know nothing about online/offline differences. To them, everything is online because you put your chip card into the electronic reader device and it works, therefore it must be online!

Posted by
288 posts

Mark et al, thanks for the replies. I'm glad to know someone was able to use the card with a PIN.

Posted by
2811 posts

I did call BofA to ask. The people manning the phones have no clue.

I'm shocked!! At a bank no less.

I used my BOA Travel Rewards chip card in France last month at a gas station machine. I had been using my Andrews card exclusively (which always worked with a PIN at machines), but I had lost it, and decided to try the BOA card. I didn't have a PIN for it (or if I did have one, I didn't know it), so I wasn't sure it would work. But when I inserted it, the machine said that the transaction was approved; no request for a PIN.