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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few times recently we've found ourselves at a little restaurant in the middle of nowhere whose credit card machine only accepts cards with chips/PINs. Seems to be a growing trend not to have the swipe option. Luckily, we have Carte Bleus as well as our US credit cards, so we were OK, but it occurred to me that travellers with non-chip cards (ie most Americans) could get into trouble.

SO - I was really excited when VISA sent me my replacement card, and it had a chip in. I've confirmed with them that this is compatible with European systems. It's only a pilot scheme, though, so if anyone has this new chip card, please make the effort to call your card services people and tell them it's a great idea.

Bank of America told me they're doing a similar chip card called Tap and Pay, which ISN'T compatible with European machines. You'd think we'd have learnt from CD regions, 120/220 volts, etc, etc, but no. Whatever folk say about a global society, it really isn't.

Also, on US card topics: I have a Wells Fargo account and a Bank of America account. With Bank of America, I can wire money from my US account to my French Banque Tarneaud account, all online. But they won't send me replacement credit/debit cards to France. With Wells Fargo, I can't wire money overseas (they want me to show up in person to do an international wire - very amusing). But they WILL send me new cards to France. Hence the need for two accounts. The lack of consistency between bank procedures is disconcerting, but at least it allows room for some manoeuvre, I suppose
 

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That's great about the visa card! When I first moved to the UK a few years ago I was totally confounded by the whole chip thing. Thankfully I ended up getting a UK bank card that had it, but was never able to make a purchase on credit with merchants who required it. What kind of visa have you got? Is it just a plain ole visa or is it affiliated with another company (ie airline, bank, etc.) Thanks for sharing this nice bit of news! Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wells Fargo

It's one of our Wells Fargo Visa cards that has the chip. My husband's new WF Visa didn't have the chip - I struck lucky with mine for no good reason that I can tell. But it's definitely worth asking the question whenever you talk with your bank/cc company.

Fingers crossed!
 

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For short stays in Europe, there are prepaid chip cards sold by the big foreign exchange bureaus (Travelex, I think?). They can be a compromise... maybe the modern day equivalent of traveler's cheques. You carry a cash-equivalent without the risk of actually carrying a lot of cash.
 

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This is an area I've been following. I had the assistance of my daughter, until recently, who worked in the Canadian banking industry and could share information.

The magnetic stripe cards that are common in the US have a substantial fee built into them for the inevitable thefts that occur. While theft is quite common, the banks make quite a bit on this fee and don't want to lose it. So, it's not been in their interest to go to higher security cards (Yes, I understand, that sounds crazy... yet it's pretty much the case).

They are just now starting to offer Chip & PIN cards. There are at least three US Banks / Credit Card providers that do so now (I've not checked for 2-3 months, so there may be more). They began as elite cards for folks who travel quite a bit and face just those situations described: Needing to pay tolls on the highway when one is out of coins or bills, buying petrol on a weekend when the station is closed but the pumps accept credit cards, etc. IOW, situations in which a magnetic strip card just doesn't work.

  • US Bank: EMV Credit Cards
  • Wells Fargo: Visa Smart Card
  • JP Morgan Chase: Palladium or Select Visa Signature Cards

The common phrase I've seen in the US is "EMV card".

ONE CAUTION: Because some of these began as Elite cards, they may carry a higher fee that could be prohibitive.


Good luck.

Ray
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Good Info, Ray!

A supplementary story I heard was that the chip was the child of a French company, who required a fee of some fraction of a centime for each chip used in a card - which totalled up to quite a lot of mone. The US companies weren't keen on stumping up this fee, so chose not to use the system.

Which, of course, may be a case of not letting the truth get in the way of a good story!

In any case, your info is most helpful.
 

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A supplementary story I heard was that the chip was the child of a French company, who required a fee of some fraction of a centime for each chip used in a card - which totalled up to quite a lot of mone. The US companies weren't keen on stumping up this fee, so chose not to use the system.

Which, of course, may be a case of not letting the truth get in the way of a good story!

In any case, your info is most helpful.
I successfully used a US credit card without the Chip/Pin in a major hardware chain BUT the fees charged by the credit card company and the exchange rates were truly horrendous - I'll never do it again.

My solution now is using my French debit card (from Societe Generale) and my Everbank account in the US to fund the SG account - all totally without any fees apart from SG charging €16 for receiving funds.

Cheers
 

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There have been US credit cards with chips for quite a while - but the chips are sometimes in a different location on the card than the European cards. Go figure.

Yes, the chip card was invented here in France - and has been around seemingly forever. Normally, most of the little gadgets that read your chip - at least the portable ones in shops and at restaurants - have a groove in them where you can swipe your card if necessary. But with the latest generation of PIN reading machines, the groove is no longer there.

I used to have problems coming over to France to buy gas because the French gas pump card readers required the chip and Germany hadn't started issuing cards with chips yet.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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