Credit card use in England

Hi, I've been reading lots of the posts about chip and pin, but still a little confused about its use in England. My husband and I will be in England for about three weeks (5 days in London and the rest of the time driving around the country). We do not have a chip and pin or chip and signature card, just a regular (for the U.S.) card with magnetic strip. It sounds like if we need to use the card in London, it should be o.k. (am I correct??). We'll have an ATM card for cash, but are accustomed to paying for meals and tickets with credit card. I'm a little concerned about gas stations since it seems like the card we have wouldn't work at a pump. Do most gas stations have someone you can pay cash to or will they accept a magnetic strip card inside (not at the pump)? Does anyone have recommendations for gas stations (this is our first time in England)? Also, will paying for parking be a problem? We'll be staying at B&Bs mostly in the countryside, but will travel into towns on some days. Can you pay automated parking with cash or do you need a chip and pin card? Just want to have a heads up before we go. Thanks in advance for your advice! Cathy

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

Forget the chip and pin business, you don't need it. A regular mag strip will work at any restaurant that takes credit cards. A lot of the independent, rural pubs are cash-only. Tickets? Theater, yes. Tube, beats me, I walk and pay for the odd ticket with cash. Gas stations. I pay inside and the mag strip works fine. I've bought a lot of gas and can't ever remember sticking a card in the pump. I've never had to pay cash for gas. Parking. The street machines where you walk down the block and pay for a ticket to toss on the dash only take coins, I think. I've only put cash in the machines in parking garages, but you don't use them very often.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

hi, my only time with a car over there was years ago, but i didnt have any problems with my credit card buying gas or anything as a matter of fact. some ATMs wont take your card. but no biggie. just look for another one. If you look at the website where you bank, you may find information as to what system/affialiates they work with over in europe. then all you need to do is to look for the sign. also, some banks have listings of ATMs in other countries. dont know if its current or not, but better that than nothing. sometimes using our credit card system over there really slows things down. happy trails.

Posted by debby
Walnut Creek, CA
10 posts

Just left London today. US credit card worked fine for 90% of the places we needed it for and 100% of the tourist sites. Problem places: small shops, street vendors, smaller purchases, etc. I always just asked before. You will be asked to sign for the purchase, just like you do here in the States. Often our card requires them to go through an extra few steps, so be patient. With respect to the Tube, we bought a 1 week Oyster card (unlimited, zones 1-3) from Victoria Station using a US Credit Card (at the window, not the automatic machine). No issues at all. My advice for the countryside would be to contact your B&B's. You should hopefully be able to pay for them ahead of time with an American card and/or they can let you know if you will need cash instead. Good news is that there are a plethora of ATMs-- only problem is that you may incur charges for using them.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8735 posts

Bank associated foreign ATMs do not charge fees for their use. The only fees, if any, will be from your bank.

Posted by Lee
1017 posts

Ditto Ed. And I used my US card in a parking garage pay machine in Knightsbridge two weeks ago.

Posted by Dina
Fontainebleau, France
893 posts

Just returned from London myself and although I have a chip & pin card, I used my US-based swipe & sign card for all but 1 purchase (it has no currency conversion fees, but my French card does) The exception: a transit card purchase made in an off-peak hour from a smaller Underground station. No window open, so I had to use the machine. I did have the option of paying cash, but that would have necessitated an ATM visit later in that day. Can't help you with regards to parking though.