Smart cards - please be a little less Ameri-centric

You talk about smart cards with chips as if they have just been discovered and implemented in Europe. Not so! When my husband got a job with the English Translation Service of the UN, we moved to Manhattan in 1994. We already had smart cards, and probably had them for at least a year before we moved. My parents were living in the Dordogne, and regularly had problems with their American credit cards, even with people who knew them, because their cards didn't have chips.

My mother is French, and my husband is British, so I have both traveled to and lived in Europe. I find that Americans like to think of Europe as a quaint old fashioned place that's big on charm, but not so great on technology. Nothing could be further from the truth. In many countries, Europeans are on the cutting edge of modern technology, way ahead of Americans. And a lot of Americans don't want to hear that!

Please educate Americans to this! Smart cards have existed in Europe for over twenty years. Don't give the impression that it's an new innovation, just because we haven't yet adopted it in this country.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5640 posts

Apparently you are new here, because what you say is far from the truth on this forum. If anything, people here lament that Europeans are so far ahead of the U.S. regarding their use of chip and pin cards.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11663 posts

This rant was posted in the Trip Reports area. I am labouring trying to find the trip report.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
2795 posts

It must be so painful to have to read posts from a bunch if hicks like us.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

i think its a cultural thing.

the Pony Express had its routes and times cut back due to weather and indian uprisings. So it takes a few more weeks for us to get the news.

happy trails.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

My internet comes in on the barb wire which has gotten slack from all the winter ice and doesn't conduct too well and the mule's been sick and I can't tighten it up. All of this is earth-shattering news. Life sucks.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
3255 posts

I'm speculating that the OP is referring to this article by RS and the fact that it uses the word "new" to explain chip and pin to the predominantly American audience that buys RS books.
http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money/chip-pin-cards

*Europe — and the rest of the world — is adopting a new system for credit and debit cards. *

Posted by michiemead
2 posts

Sad - but not surprised - to find that Americans still respond to criticism with sarcasm and condescension.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

Sad - but not surprised - to think that anybody could be emotional, or even give a rat's rear bumper, about how a pice of plastic works.

Posted by Sarah
St. Louis, MO USA
1645 posts

It must be wonderful to live in a country with all that amazing technology. We don't have anything like that here, unless you want to include Google Glass, cars that drive themselves, a possible breakthrough in the treatment of HIV/AIDS at the cellular level...

Needless to say, I missed the message on smart cards as well. The telegraph system in my town has only worked intermittently due to the severe winter, and the mail train hasn't been by since the end of last year.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

" Posted by michiemead
Posts: 2
03/09/14 05:07 PM

Sad - but not surprised - to find that Americans still respond to criticism with sarcasm and condescension."

again, its a cultural thing.

Posted by Kim
Paris
988 posts

Am enjoying a morning dose of humor here with my tea before work!! Thanks everybody!!

Posted by gone
2081 posts

@ michiemead,

seriously, i think you really need to tell us how you REALLY feel about us in the USA. get it off our chest and let it all pour out. you may feel better.

happy trails

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
1077 posts

Sad - but not surprised - to find that trolls can still find this website and make comments with sarcasm and condescension.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3180 posts

Too bad I don't like popcorn, this would be a perfect opportunity ;-)

I concur with my fellow posters: where here have posters talked about Chip&PIN cards as some kind of new thing those backwards Europeans invented? The travel media has certainly been touting it as a big deal, and then we have to talk people down from the ledges when they think they can't possibly get around Europe with their 19th century credit card technology.

Posted by Rik
Vicenza, Italy
708 posts

I'll preface my remarks by admitting that I haven't lived in the US in over 15 years now but one of my constant sources of annoyance here in Europe is how many times I go into a restaurant or shop and find that they do not accept credit cards at all.

Posted by Rosalyn
Berkeley
1416 posts

Well Rik, I don't mind so much if places of business don't accept credit cards, if they are up front about it. It's the ones that display the cc logos and then come out with a lame story about how their cc machine isn't working that rile me.

Posted by Rik
Vicenza, Italy
708 posts

Rosalyn, I will play devil's advocate here on the possibility that they are not lying about that. It has often happened to me where I use my card at a place one week and then the next week it doesn't work. There is a restaurant we go to a lot near us and my card works there only sporadically. We actually joke about it, I give him my card and we say "let's see if it will work today...".

I don't know why it is but perhaps some of the technology isn't as cutting edge in Europe as some would have us believe. I've never had my card declined anywhere in the US.

Posted by Robert
Happy Valley, PA
250 posts

Just got back from a week in Germany. My dumb cards (magnetic strip only) worked just fine. However, some places took cash only. Twenty-plus years of cutting-edge technology never adopted!

Posted by Lee
Dallas
1017 posts

Do you mean that I can use my US credit card in Europe? Wow! That'll sure beat having to take all the wads of cash like I've been doing. I won't have to stand in line at a bank to exchange money anymore. Woo Hoo! Modern technology is wonderful!

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
5411 posts

The only technology the Europeans can teach Americans is how to carry a baguette under the armpit without transmitting body odor to the loaf (and making it 'sourdough bread') or how to pair wine with food. But actually here in California we are ahead the Europeans on that too.

The chip and pin cards were necessary in Europe because the European telephone systems' technology was so behind the times that it was too hard and expensive to use the verifone machines through the land lines, so they needed something else for security.

And stop posting these rants or I'll start calling the French kiss the "Freedom kiss".

Posted by Rosalyn
Berkeley
1416 posts

No, Rik, they are lying. It has nothing to do with my card. The tale of the non-functioning cc machine comes out as soon as the card appears. We even experienced this ploy back when the manually operated machines were in use that made carbon copies. We were treated to an elaborate charade to demonstrate that the machine was stuck. I believe it's a way to avoid paying the commission or to evade taxes, or maybe both.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11663 posts

It amazes me that a troll can come on here, make one rant, disappear, and now there are 25 posts talking about it.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

'Tweezers and Clippers ' got fourteen, even though the question was answered on the first reply.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
3927 posts

Where it has happened that they say something is wrong with my credit card has been in Paris or in France, never in England or Germany. At that point I've paid in cash, depending, or decided to play along with them, stringing them out. When I choose the latter strategy, I get another credit card out. Sometimes that works, and there have been times when that didn't work either. Then I tell the clerk that I want to see their supervisor.

Usually the native French speaker with me (if that's the case) takes over, the supervisor arrives, is told what the story is, and my credit card works....all that to avoid paying in cash. As pointed out above, there have been times in France where you know it's merely a ploy by the clerk to get you to pay in cash.

Posted by tbremser
1 posts

I do not understand the focus of this forum.

My wife and I are expat US teachers in Saudi Arabia. We travel all over the world during our vacations. We cannot use our Navy Federal Credit Union debit card anywhere in Europe to get money out of ATM's over the last few years. This last Christmas we were in Germany and only one bank would accept our non-chip card.

After all the problems those of you in US had with the big hack at retailers this Christmas should wake the ethnocentric US up. It is TIME to join the 21st century for credit/debit card technology. My wife and I are forced to use our Saudi debit card when we travel now! I know Rick says it is not a problem but Deb and I found it a Major Problem.

Note one thing though, we were able to purchase goods with the mag strip/signature means over Christmas. This still was not a problem

Thank you
Tim Bremser, Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3180 posts

^^^ It has nothing to do with the chip or non-chip. I'd check with your credit union to find out why it won't work in Europe. I've never heard of an ATM machine not accepting anything but chip cards, though occasionally a machine won't work for a card.

Retailers must can accept non-chip cards, though many clerks might not know how to make the transaction.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

"Posted by tbremser
Posts: 1
03/21/14 12:10 PM

I do not understand the focus of this forum.
My wife and I are expat US teachers in Saudi Arabia. We travel all over the world during our vacations. We cannot use our Navy Federal Credit Union debit card anywhere in Europe to get money out of ATM's over the last few years. This last Christmas we were in Germany and only one bank would accept our non-chip card.
After all the problems those of you in US had with the big hack at retailers this Christmas should wake the ethnocentric US up. It is TIME to join the 21st century for credit/debit card technology. My wife and I are forced to use our Saudi debit card when we travel now! I know Rick says it is not a problem but Deb and I found it a Major Problem.
Note one thing though, we were able to purchase goods with the mag strip/signature means over Christmas. This still was not a problem
Thank you
Tim Bremser, Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia"

Your preaching to the USERS on here. Just so you know, WE (the users) dont make policy the BANKS do. They can write their own ticket too.

Also, my VISA is thru my credit union and i havent had any issues using it anywhere in Europe, so far. Some ATMs wont work, but ive never had issues with getting $$$ out of a different one. Ive also check which the shared network my card is valid on and it lists several US Military credit unions around the world. I will take a wild guess, i wont be allowed on base to use it.

Happy trails.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8335 posts

Tim, yes, it has to be a problem with your credit union. Do you notify them when you are traveling (do you use it in Saudi Arabia?)? I use American debit cards from an online bank and a small local credit union. I have never had a problem using either one - and they definitely do not have chips.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

A guy I sometimes travel with has only a NFCU card. He's never had problems with ATM use anywhere in Europe.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
3927 posts

On US credit/debit card technology: I can say this much on using the US magnetic stripe credit card (NOT a debit card) in Germany in traveling the last few years....never a problem, never rejected for purchases, say at DB machines, restaurants, retail stores, hotels, hostels. cash withdrawals, etc. Where the Mastercard/Visa logo was around, and if I presented my card, that reliable US credit card, it went through.

Posted by dmae
62 posts

A few years ago one of my son's friends stopped by and visited me in Rome for a while. He only found ONE bancomat near my apartment that would take his card. I didn't have problems with any of the machines I used. {shrug}

Posted by andi
franktown, colorado
248 posts

Took me a while to figure out what a "smart" card was.....

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
3927 posts

@ Alex ...In 1987 at the post office in Metz across from the train station, I saw the Mini-tell (sp ?) That certainly was not around in San Francisco.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
3927 posts

@ Alex ...The last time I was in Metz was in 2009, definitely remember that post office building in Metz. It's a large building. As far as I knew, only les francais had the Minitel. In the late 1990s I saw one at the post office near the centre ville/train station in Arras.... still being used.