Chip cards

I am going to France in 3 weeks. Can I get a chip card in the US or do I have to get it in France?

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2395 posts

Do you mean a chip & PIN credit card? If so, only a very few banks/credit unions in the US provide them. Unless you are doing a lot of driving, you really won't need one. Merchants still accept magnetic cards. About the only places that only accept chip & PIN are automated machines (tickets, gas, tolls) and the manned train ticket booths in the Netherlands. ATM's still take regular old debit cards.

Posted by Alyson
Chicago, IL, USA
410 posts

I had a -PIN-Cash-Passport-FAQs/]Travelex cash passport. It was discontinued earlier this year and it was just reinstated again. It has a chip and pin. I had read about the GlobeTrek rewards chip and pin from Andrews Credit Union. After leaving several messages on their website, having my online application crash, and a long phone hold followed by a hangup, I would strongly discourage you or anyone else from applying for this card. Travelex my have a crappy exchange rate, but they do have a functioning customer service department.

Posted by Paula
Montrose, CO, USA
21 posts

I just got an offer in the mail for a Citibank World MasterCard with a chip, and have one on the way for our trip in 3 weeks. I hope it gets here in time...they said 10 days.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8761 posts

Paula, don't be disappointed but when it arrives that card will most probably be a "Chip and Signature" card rather than a "Chip and PIN" one. That's OK, but less useful at machines and toll booths.

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
575 posts

You can get one here but you probably won't need it. We just spent 6 weeks in Europe and had only magnetic strip cards, both debit and credit. The only places we couldn't use them were grocery stores and some gas stations. We found that big chain gas stations take magnetic strip and smaller ones don't unless they have an after-hours pump. Almost every other place we went took both chip/pin as well as magnetic strip.

Posted by Paula
Montrose, CO, USA
21 posts

We'll see, Nigel. It is advertised as being a chip card that will work in Europe. I'll report back when I try it out.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2395 posts

Most American cards with a chip, even if advertised as chip & PIN, are not the same chip & PIN technologies as used in Europe. People have reported that sometimes they do work just fine in automated machines, and sometimes they don't. I think it depends on the technology used in the machine. Sometimes my magnetic card works with just a PIN too. One important reminder for people with either card, always know your PIN. Often people don't know their credit card has a PIN or never assigned one. Make sure you do (especially to use it in emergencies to get cash).

Posted by Lisa
Columbia
50 posts

I was assured by someone in France that I wouldn't need one. However, I applied for a Bank of America Travel Rewards card before my last visit in August and it was great. First of all there was no foreign exchange fee and the chip was very useful for buying metro tickets. I also got a bonus for signing up so I had enough points for a $200 credit when I returned. It worked well for me. Good luck!!