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Credit Card pins

Based on the information I gathered, Europe uses chip and pin technology while the US uses chip and signature for credit cards. When I called Capital One for a pin (going on BOE 14 days in May), I was informed that pins are only used for cash advances and I did not need one. Per Capital One, if a pin was requested, I should just ask the merchant to manually process. Has anyone had issues without having a pin in Europe when using the credit card recently on one of the tours? I'm trying to figure out if I really need a pin. Thanks.

Posted by
1077 posts

Get the pin. You will need it for getting cash out of an ATM and for purchases in some places.

Posted by
2580 posts

You have to have a certain type of credit card to get Chip and Pin technology. Andrews FCU is one example. As Capital One told you, otherwise you'll be getting a cash advance and you SO don't want to do that.

However, technology seems to have passed PINs in Europe by because now you do contactless pay. That is what I just did in Paris, touch and go. If you can see a little microcircuit on your current card, you're good to go contactless. If you want to be doubly sure, get a card such as Andrews (anyone can join). I had to use my Andrews card in a French taxi because my others wouldn't work, but that rarely happens. Except at toll booths and train station ticket machines, then all bets are off and anything can happen.

My standard advice is put all your vacation money into a Schwab online account (easily opened) because you can take money out of any ATM, anywhere, for free.

Posted by
1308 posts

I was worried about not having a pin before my trip last year. But, I never needed it / was never asked for it. All I had to do was sign for all the credit card transactions.

I think phred is correct that the pin is old news and not used anymore.

Posted by
8631 posts

Use a Credit card to get cash from an ATM only in life or death emergencies. Other wise you may have a heart attack when you get home and see the fees charged for using a Credit card.

Use a Debit card for cash from an ATM

Posted by
1220 posts

You don't need a pin for your credit card. Worse case they have to put it through the machine but if you have a chip you can just slide it into the machine. Only time you might have a problem is buying gas or paying tolls. Since you are on a tour, you'll be fine.

Posted by
68 posts

There’s a limit on the amount of the transaction for contactless - currently £100 in the UK, different in Europe. For any transition above that, you will definitely need to enter a PIN.

Posted by
2560 posts

You will not need a PIN for your credit card. Uses your debit card at ATM’s as you do at home, same PIN.

Posted by
388 posts

I've twice needed a PIN to buy a train ticket from a machine, once in Rome and once in Munich.

Posted by
5181 posts

Lulu, no worries. Even when I used a credit card that was chip and pin, the machines would recognize the card as from US and default to signature. Only possible locations where it might be an issue is ticket machines or toll booths. I’ve never had a problem with a ticket machine or used a toll booth.

Posted by
11253 posts

Confused with all the answers? Let me try......

Look at your credit cards. If they have this symbol:

You can just tap the card over the card reader for payyment. If you don't have that symbol, but have an Apple or Android phone, you can set up Apple Pay or Google Pay on your phone and use that for payment. Just tap the phone like you would a card.

If you don't have either of the above, more than likely you have a chip card. American chip cards, in almost all cases, are chip and signature. No need for a pin. Unless the merchant that is dealing with you has never seen an American in his life, he will know how to handle chip and signature.

The only places you might have problems are at gas station or ticket machines. Prior to using Google Pay or having a contactless card, I did have problems at some, but not all, ticket machines.

Never use a credit card to get cash. Use your ATM card.

Posted by
6642 posts

I have had occasions where the merchant did not want to process my card because of the PIN/signature issue. Possibly did not want to be bothered, didnt know how to handle, or just a jerk. So, yeah, get the PIN anyway. Report back here.

I was informed that pins are only used for cash advances and I did not need one.

Its been my experience that people who work in local banks or for card customer service really just dont understand the issue with foreign travel, and have likely never traveled abroad themselves. So they only know what is on the standard response list they have in front of them.

Posted by
9 posts

I asked my bank about using my bank Debit card in Europe. They had an excellent idea to share. My bank card is attached to other accounts (my kids and also savings). They said come in before the trip and they will lock down all the other accounts. Then when I use it in Europe, only my checking account is available to use and if there is theft, only this account will be accessible. Just wanted to pass this along.

Posted by
92 posts

Just wanted to follow up on my post. We just came back from the 14 day BOE and had zero problems using our credit cards without a pin. There is contactless scanning but is limited to 50 euros, we were told. After that, it was insert chip and a signature. What a relief. Had absolutely no problem using our cash station card either.