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I have a debit card from a U.S. bank. The bank knows that I am in France and will be using ATMs in France. I tried to withdraw $500 this weekend, but the ATM would only allow me to withdraw $300. I called my bank and asked them to allow me to withdraw up to $1000 per day, which they said that they would do and the change would be effective within an hour.

The next day, I went to the same ATM to withdraw more money and it wouldn't even allow me to withdraw $300. I'm going to call my bank again, but I wanted to find out if anyone else had had this problem and if it could be the ATM that is causing the problem. Do some French banks put a limit on how much a person can withdraw from an ATM weekly?

My credit and debit cards won't work for some online purchases either, even though I notified both the cc company and my bank that I'd be making large purchases from French stores. Now I'm kind of afraid to use my debit or credit card at brick & mortar stores, too, for fear that my cards will be declined. Kind of want to avoid any potential embarrassment. Not sure how I'm going to buy the bed and couch that I need...Yikes.
 

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Yes, there are limits on ATM machines in France. For me it's MY bank that makes the limit. Perhaps there is an ATM limit too, don't know. With my bank there is a daily limit, and a rolling 30 day limit. The latter can be difficult to manage. I can't remember yesterday, let alone 29 days ago.

As I said in my other post, you will find a French card much easier to use in France.

DejW

I have a debit card from a U.S. bank. The bank knows that I am in France and will be using ATMs in France. I tried to withdraw $500 this weekend, but the ATM would only allow me to withdraw $300. I called my bank and asked them to allow me to withdraw up to $1000 per day, which they said that they would do and the change would be effective within an hour.

The next day, I went to the same ATM to withdraw more money and it wouldn't even allow me to withdraw $300. I'm going to call my bank again, but I wanted to find out if anyone else had had this problem and if it could be the ATM that is causing the problem. Do some French banks put a limit on how much a person can withdraw from an ATM weekly?

My credit and debit cards won't work for some online purchases either, even though I notified both the cc company and my bank that I'd be making large purchases from French stores. Now I'm kind of afraid to use my debit or credit card at brick & mortar stores, too, for fear that my cards will be declined. Kind of want to avoid any potential embarrassment. Not sure how I'm going to buy the bed and couch that I need...Yikes.
 

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Do some French banks put a limit on how much a person can withdraw from an ATM weekly?
Exactly right. Most banks limit bank machine withdrawals in cash to 300€ in one day. But there is the added complication of using a US debit card. In France there are two levels of cards: a carte de retraite (which is, as the name implies, only for getting cash from a bank machine and usually only from the machines associated with the bank that issued the card) and a carte bancaire, which is actually a type of "debit card" but which functions like a credit card if you're outside of France.

The agreements regarding the use of "foreign" bank cards often have restrictions due to the differences in banking rules between the two countries. This may explain a bit more about the situation: https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F2421

Also, besides the daily withdrawal limits, there are weekly and monthly limits. Although it's possible to get your French bank to raise these limits, I think in most cases you'll be restricted to obtaining those higher amounts only from a bank machine at your own bank.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Exactly right. Most banks limit bank machine withdrawals in cash to 300€ in one day. But there is the added complication of using a US debit card. In France there are two levels of cards: a carte de retraite (which is, as the name implies, only for getting cash from a bank machine and usually only from the machines associated with the bank that issued the card) and a carte bancaire, which is actually a type of "debit card" but which functions like a credit card if you're outside of France.

The agreements regarding the use of "foreign" bank cards often have restrictions due to the differences in banking rules between the two countries. This may explain a bit more about the situation: https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F2421

Also, besides the daily withdrawal limits, there are weekly and monthly limits. Although it's possible to get your French bank to raise these limits, I think in most cases you'll be restricted to obtaining those higher amounts only from a bank machine at your own bank.
Cheers,
Bev
The OP doesn't yet have a bank account in France (not yet resident and returning shortly, after marriage, for the spouse visa which would in any case mean that opening a non-resident account within her timeframe could be difficult).

I would suggest the OP checks whether her US bank has an arrangement/partnership with a French bank - in which case that's the bank she should use for cash withdrawals. If there is no such arrangement, then she should go into one or more of the larger banks such as BNP to find out if they can assist.

Edit: sometimes it's far easier to use an overseas credit card than a debit card.
 

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Edit: sometimes it's far easier to use an overseas credit card than a debit card.
I suspect that's the key here. US "debit" cards don't generally transfer smoothly over here - even if they have one of those Visa or MC debit network affiliate logos.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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For two months, we've been living off ATM withdrawals until our French bank account is setup - hopefully, in a few days time. In Paris it's crazy how different ATMs limit the amount you can withdraw. It's not your bank... I've talked several times with our bank, Charles Scwab, and they assure me there's a $1000 limit/day on our debit card. Most machines limit you to 300€ as previously said but I've found one that gives 500€, so it's kind of hit or miss. One thing I like, on most machines they offer a choice of small bills or large.

What's with giving change in this country? Of course, it's another French lesson in number counting.
 

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It depends on the "conventions" that the bank offering the bank machine has with the bank that issues your bank card. You should be aware, too, that there is a limit on the amount of transactions that can be legally paid in cash. I think it's now down to 1500€. Over that amount, payments must be made in a "traceable" manner - check, bank transfer, bank card, etc.

Cash has traditionally been a means of tax evasion here in France. Not so much income taxes, but VAT most definitely so the government has been keen to limit the "need" to use cash.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I suspect that's the key here. US "debit" cards don't generally transfer smoothly over here - even if they have one of those Visa or MC debit network affiliate logos.
Cheers,
Bev
IIRC my Aussie debit card (Mastercard) doesn't work here - I had some kind of problem with it, just can't remember what. Of course I use my French card now, avoiding poor exchange rates and fees.
 

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I have found that larger banks such as LCL, BNP or HSBC will allow 500€ ATM withdrawals where as banks such as Crédit Agricole and other smaller banks limit withdrawals to 300€.
 

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Slushpup, your American card will work in stores. A lot of the French-based stores use a card authentication system that doesn't process non-European cards. I had this issue trying to buy online from Darty.com - when I called customer service they advised me to go into a Darty brick & mortar store to use a foreign card. Worked perfectly!

I've never had my American (visa) card declined in a brick & mortar location in France.
 

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Slushpup, your American card will work in stores. A lot of the French-based stores use a card authentication system that doesn't process non-European cards. I had this issue trying to buy online from Darty.com - when I called customer service they advised me to go into a Darty brick & mortar store to use a foreign card. Worked perfectly!

I've never had my American (visa) card declined in a brick & mortar location in France.
I understand they are introducing a "puce" (i.e. chip) system in the US. However, it is incompatible with the chip and PIN system here in France - which might explain some problems folks have had with their US credit cards. Used to be the card readers here all had a slot to "swipe" your foreign card if necessary, but I notice some recent card reader machines don't seem to have that any more.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I understand they are introducing a "puce" (i.e. chip) system in the US. However, it is incompatible with the chip and PIN system here in France - which might explain some problems folks have had with their US credit cards.
Cheers,
Bev
I don´t believe that the US EMV (chip card) format is any different than that which is used throughout the world including Europe. What US banks generally decided, when faced with the many options about configuring their chipped card offerings, was to issue chipped or EMV cards with on-line PIN verification vs. the more common off line chip verification.

Cards using off line chips have the PIN burned into the card and authentication or PIN match, entered value vs. stored value, is instantaneous. Cards using on line PIN verification are authenticated only after the entered PIN value is compared against an on line database. This seems to work well in the USA as most points of sale have on line capability. However, European card usage protocols were established well before on line verification was available and not all points of sale have this capability.

Thus, a US issued credit card with an on line PIN cannot be authenticated at many points of sate in Europe which do not have on line capability. This is why many US motorists cannot fill their rental cards at most pay-at-the-pump points of sale in France.
 

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I don´t believe that the US EMV (chip card) format is any different than that which is used throughout the world including Europe. What US banks generally decided, when faced with the many options about configuring their chipped card offerings, was to issue chipped or EMV cards with on-line PIN verification vs. the more common off line chip verification.

Cards using off line chips have the PIN burned into the card and authentication or PIN match, entered value vs. stored value, is instantaneous. Cards using on line PIN verification are authenticated only after the entered PIN value is compared against an on line database. This seems to work well in the USA as most points of sale have on line capability. However, European card usage protocols were established well before on line verification was available and not all points of sale have this capability.

Thus, a US issued credit card with an on line PIN cannot be authenticated at many points of sate in Europe which do not have on line capability. This is why many US motorists cannot fill their rental cards at most pay-at-the-pump points of sale in France.
Funny that and must be very much a US thing (which would not surprise me at all). Australian credit cards have for many, many years had online verification in the chips and immediately deduct from your Australian account at the time of the transaction in France and elsewhere (or declined at POS if your credit/funds are insufficient).
 

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Thus, a US issued credit card with an on line PIN cannot be authenticated at many points of sate in Europe which do not have on line capability. This is why many US motorists cannot fill their rental cards at most pay-at-the-pump points of sale in France.
When I lived in Germany, I couldn't use my German credit card in a French gas pump - because the German credit cards at the time did not have the chip-and-PIN system at all. The chip and PIN system has been in use here since the late 1980s.

Actually, the French bank cards are debit cards - and deduct the payment from your bank account right away (unless you have a deferred account).

But I still fail to understand how having the PIN embedded in the chip is more secure than having to punch it in to validate the sale. Seems to me that if someone "finds" your card, they're free to run up a huge tab without even having to figure out your PIN.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Actually, the French bank cards are debit cards - and deduct the payment from your bank account right away (unless you have a deferred account).
I have a card at LCL which they a Bank Card. It acts as a debit card when placed into an ATM, but it is still a credit card which is paid in full once a month (not instantly as with a debit card).

But I still fail to understand how having the PIN embedded in the chip is more secure than having to punch it in to validate the sale. Seems to me that if someone "finds" your card, they're free to run up a huge tab without even having to figure out your PIN.
Cheers,
Bev
Having a PIN embedded into the chip only means that verification is done instantly. The PIN you enter into the point of sale device is instantly compared with the PIN number embedded onto the chip. You must still input the PIN to complete the sale.

On line PIN cards differ in that the PIN information entered into the point-of-sale equipment is only stored in an on line database. The card itself does not contain PIN information. With either configuration, a PIN must be entered to complete the sale. One method is not inherently more secure than the other.

US banks have chosen on line PINs for their cards because:

  1. They do not need to replace a card in order to change a PIN
  2. They can, at any time, remove a PIN from the on line database effectively deactivating the card for future point-of-sale transactions.

Additionally, most US banks issue cards that will require a signature, not a PIN, to complete a transaction at any manned point of sale such as at restaurants, hotels, or boutiques. To me, asking only for a signature appears less safe than asking someone to input a PIN.

However, US consumers carry an average of six credit cards with them at any one time. US banks feared that if they required a PIN for every transaction, consumers might forget their differing PINs resulting in some banks seeing their cards used less and less often. It is likely that for this reason, US banks wanted to keep signature as the default transaction mode for their chipped credit cards.
 

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I have a card at LCL which they a Bank Card. It acts as a debit card when placed into an ATM, but it is still a credit card which is paid in full once a month (not instantly as with a debit card).
Basically, it's a Carte Bleue - which is a debit card. You've just elected for the deferred payment option (i.e. the month's payments all withdrawn from your account at the end of the month). I have the same thing with my bank - only they take the month's purchases on the 10th of the following month.

A US credit card is one where you pay the balance yourself and can elect to pay all or part of the balance, essentially taking advantage of a sort of revolving credit function.

We can go back and forth all day on the security and/or convenience of the way the PINs are handled, but I think you'll find here people prefer to have to physically input their PIN at the time of purchase. In fact, at the dawn of Internet shopping, there was talk here in France of finding a way to require input of the card PIN online to validate an online purchase.

I always get caught short back in the US when I realize I have to sign for purchases - and it seems that every vendor has a different system so that the cashier never actually handles the card. Still have a US credit card and it has had a chip in it for a couple of years now, though I have no idea how to use that should I go back to visit. I suppose if it's "automated" as you explain, it wouldn't matter that I have long forgotten the PIN for the card (since back then I never had to use the PIN).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Admittedly I have supplied a lot of information but it can be useful to anyone who wonders why he is having difficulties making purchases with his US credit card while in France.
 

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With chip cards in the US - you can either use as a debit card with a pin number, and if you can't remember it - you use it as a "credit card" with a signature. At gas pumps, you use again as a debit card, with a pin, or you push credit on the machine and then they ask for your zip code as ID.

Karen
 
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