Will my credit card work overseas?
The answer is: sometimes.
In Europe and other countries around the world “chip and pin” or EMV-enabled cards are the norm and have been for years. These cards use a microchip and a personal identification number to validate transactions instead of a cardholder’s signature. Rather than swiping the magnetic stripe through the card reader, consumers insert the card into the machine and enter the PIN stored on the chip. This is also the future for American credit cards but they are not widely available yet.
Here are a few tips for using your credit card overseas:
1. Plan Ahead. Keep other payment options such as cash with you at all times.
2. Tell your bank about your future travels. Before you go, call your issuer and inform them of your travel plans. Let them know exactly when and where you will be traveling. Failure to do so can result in your account being temporarily suspended due to suspected fraud.
3. Speak up when paying. Let the cashier know that you do not have a chip card or a pin. Letting them know that the card needs the magnetic strip swiped and a signature may help.
4. Don’t be surprised if businesses won’t accept your magnetic strip card. Some employees might not know how to process you card. There is also a false perception about the security of the magnetic strip cards.
Other considerations when traveling are that most self service or ticket machines at train stations and gas stations only accept the EMV cards. Our advice is to have cash, bring coins and be prepared to wait. You should have better luck using your card for any transactions where human tellers are involved such as restaurants and hotels where they should know how to run your card.
Want to know more about the best way to carry money and cards when traveling? We will share Part 2 later this week and will have even more advice!