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Credit card use in Europe?

Marketplace Staff May 6, 2013

Question:

I was listening to today’s program. The caller who asked about money for his student-daughter’s travel money was told to give her a credit card. I just wanted to comment that U.S. credit cards don’t typically work in Europe. The cards issued there use Chip and PIN technology.

Response:

Paddy Hirsch May 6, 2013 Senior Editor, Marketplace
Hi,

That’s not quite accurate, and I would hate to mislead anyone traveling to Europe. It’s true that chip & pin is the preferred method of card transaction, particularly in restaurants. But retail outlets of all kinds can take a credit card, so don’t panic! This from a recent Discovery News article (italics are mine):

Spokespeople for MasterCard and Visa also noted that the clerk at the counter should be able to make a U.S. card work – it’s only the newer, fully automated systems with no human beings involved that aren’t designed with magnetic stripes in mind. American Express in particular has pushed to make sure its cards will work where they are accepted (the company made its name as a traveler’s card, after all). And ATM machines for the most part will still work, too, as they tend to be older — just make sure your bank has a partner institution in the relevant country. The problem arise when the sales clerk doesn’t know what to do when the machine asks for a PIN — a problem that I have encountered at least once, and it took some fiddling to find out that hitting “enter” on the POS terminal would work.

Paddy Hirsch, Senior Producer.

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