Personal Finance

heading to Europe and I need advice for my credit and bank card

  • Last Updated:
  • Mar 13th, 2009 7:34 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 11, 2005
1968 posts
130 upvotes
Ajax, ON, Canada

heading to Europe and I need advice for my credit and bank card

Hey guys,

I will be heading down to Europe in May for a cruise and we are going to visit seven countries plus me and my mom are both heading to Paris, France for two days.

Right now, I have a BMO Mastercard and two President's Choice Financial bank cards. All three do not have chips on them, as I understand that most European countries have already transitioned to the chip system.

I need some advice on how can I handle situations in which a merchant doesn't accept my non-chip card for whatever reason. This similar instance reminded me of when a bus driver had refused my transit pass for so many reasons, which I can't explain it in detail (silly statement to ask, but I have to).

Anyways, if a merchant in Europe doesn't accept my credit card, who should I contact?

I was planning to apply for another credit card just for that trip, but I would like to offer you guys some advice you can give me - if you can. Thanks.
23 replies
Deal Expert
User avatar
Feb 9, 2003
19245 posts
3480 upvotes
9347934 downvotes
Doesn't BMO have chip cards yet? Could you phone them and ask them to send you a chip card? You should be phoning your CC company anyway before you go on vacation, so they don't decline your card while you're there. I always do that before I go away, ever since I got to Mexico once and realized that my CC didn't work.
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 11, 2005
1968 posts
130 upvotes
Ajax, ON, Canada
i6s1 wrote: Doesn't BMO have chip cards yet? Could you phone them and ask them to send you a chip card? You should be phoning your CC company anyway before you go on vacation, so they don't decline your card while you're there. I always do that before I go away, ever since I got to Mexico once and realized that my CC didn't work.
Well yes, but the first time I applied and received my BMO mastercard, it doesn't have a chip on it. I have to wait until my card "naturally" expires. Better yet, I have to call them and explain all of my details and from there, they will point me to the right direction.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Sep 3, 2006
5211 posts
2471 upvotes
Winnipeg
mada726 wrote: Well yes, but the first time I applied and received my BMO mastercard, it doesn't have a chip on it. I have to wait until my card "naturally" expires. Better yet, I have to call them and explain all of my details and from there, they will point me to the right direction.
Call your CC company. They'll tell you if there are any issues with using their CC in Europe.

I certainly had no problems in Greece last year.
Deal Addict
Feb 9, 2005
4172 posts
20 upvotes
They should still accept the non-chip cards but may give you a bit of a strange look. Where you might run into problems is at "unmanned" locations such as parking ticket machine or unmanned gas stations but you won't be able to do anything about that.

I've also heard that you should make sure your ATM PIN is not more than 4 numbers, plus you might want to be sure you know the number because the keypads may not have letters.
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 11, 2005
1968 posts
130 upvotes
Ajax, ON, Canada
AllWheelDrift wrote: They should still accept the non-chip cards but may give you a bit of a strange look. Where you might run into problems is at "unmanned" locations such as parking ticket machine or unmanned gas stations but you won't be able to do anything about that.

I've also heard that you should make sure your ATM PIN is not more than 4 numbers, plus you might want to be sure you know the number because the keypads may not have letters.
My PIN for the credit card is all 4 numbers and that's one concern checked off.
Sr. Member
Sep 14, 2003
977 posts
2 upvotes
I went to the uk and France last year and used my non chipped card without any issues. Most big places will know how to handle north am cards.

The 2 of us had $500 pounds and euros each. We used our cc's whenever we could and made it fine.

GL

Btw, call your cc and let them know your plans and ask for their intl phone number.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Feb 9, 2003
19245 posts
3480 upvotes
9347934 downvotes
mada726 wrote: Well yes, but the first time I applied and received my BMO mastercard, it doesn't have a chip on it. I have to wait until my card "naturally" expires. Better yet, I have to call them and explain all of my details and from there, they will point me to the right direction.
You don't have to wait till it expires. You can get a new card at anytime just by claiming that you can't read the security code, the signature panel is worn off, the magnetic stripe is demagnetized, etc.

If they have chip cards available, and you ask for one, they'll probably send you one. Remember that banks will get to blame you for any fraud, since the cards (currently) can't be replicated and can't be used without your pin. The banks want to get these cards out because of the money that fraud costs them.
Sr. Member
Oct 8, 2008
722 posts
70 upvotes
BMO will send you a chip card if you ask for one. You shouldn't need another reason - but saying you're travelling internationally should be fine.

While all merchants that accept Visa/MC are supposed to accept your non-chip card, there are many who do not understand all the rules and will refuse to accept it, often thinking its a fradulent card. (It is possible that some places may not even be set up to accept magnetic stripe cards on their terminals) There isn't really anyone you can call, except for the bank that the merchant uses to process transactions. But this is more hassle than it is worth, so since you can get a chip card, it will be easier for you to do so.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jul 31, 2007
1938 posts
3 upvotes
Earth
I live in Germany and my German credit card, which I obtained last year, does not have a chip on it and I've never had trouble with it. Any place that accepts credit cards at all, accepts my credit card.
I'm not overweight, I'm undertall.
[OP]
Deal Addict
May 11, 2005
1968 posts
130 upvotes
Ajax, ON, Canada
It's better safe than sorry for me to consult my card issuer and from there, I will have to explain the issue to them.......
Banned
User avatar
Oct 28, 2003
1741 posts
2 upvotes
Winnipeg, Mb
Just wondering what CC companies charge, or if they charge at all, a fee on top of the currency conversion?

Is there a credit card that does not charge a fee?

I heard PC financial is 2.5% on top of the conversion?
beep beep bop beep bup
Deal Addict
Jul 28, 2005
3237 posts
27 upvotes
v_tofu wrote: Just wondering what CC companies charge, or if they charge at all, a fee on top of the currency conversion
Nearly all charge 2.5%, there are a couple that charge a bit less. No Canadian card charges zero.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jan 19, 2005
1545 posts
60 upvotes
most countries will accept both chip and non-chip cards without a problem... I don't know who told you about that "chip" card being the only option or something, but I've traveled enough to notice no difference whatsoever.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Aug 30, 2003
3346 posts
166 upvotes
when i went to europe i brought:

- visa (no chip)
- mastercard (no chip)
- 2 debit (PCF, TD)

it may seem like overkill but i ran into situations (usually automated ticket machines) which took 1 card but not the other even though it was advertised that it accepted both visa & mastercard. i tired to avoid using debit b/c it costs 5$ service charge each transaction.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Feb 1, 2005
2182 posts
214 upvotes
rilhouse wrote: when i went to europe i brought:

- visa (no chip)
- mastercard (no chip)
- 2 debit (PCF, TD)

it may seem like overkill but i ran into situations (usually automated ticket machines) which took 1 card but not the other even though it was advertised that it accepted both visa & mastercard. i tired to avoid using debit b/c it costs 5$ service charge each transaction.
By, debit, I assume you mean taking out money at an ATM. If this is correct, you have to weigh the $5 charge and the better exchange rate you get for direct withdrawal.

If you use a credit card, you avoid the $5 transaction fee but get hit on the exchange rate (usually 2.5% premium).

So if the cost is really high, it may be better to go debit (but best would be to pay in Canadian funds, of course).

Also, to the OP, the 4 digit code should NOT start with "0". For some reason, people have had problems with this.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 16, 2004
2032 posts
178 upvotes
Live AT, Work FL, Ho…
Don't use your debit, it's expensive. Use it to withdraw cash only - 1 large lump sum since it'll cost you CA$5 / transaction + a certain percentage, depending on your bank.

For other purchases, use your credit card for best exchange rates. Over the past 8 months living here, I've had no problems with my Canadian credit card - either at the bookstore or buying transportation tickets. No problems in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, or Belgium. I imagine it'll work in France as well. It's all integrated anyway. When you pay for something, it will take longer than usual to process - be patient. Whether it has a chip or not shouldn't matter. The banking system here is advanced but all the machines are backwards compatible with magnetic cards.

Apply for a new credit card if you think it'll provide more coverage for you.

Have fun!
Member
Aug 8, 2008
241 posts
44 upvotes
BMO will issue you a new chip card if you call. If you have time and want to save a bit on the conversion fee, I recommend you apply for a Desjardins Visa as their currency conversion fee is 1.8%. I would also recommend getting another bank account just to be on the safe side as I heard people that had a PC bank card that they weren't able to withdraw funds out of country. A friend told me that one of the PC rep's told her that it's hit and miss when it comes to withdrawing funds out of country.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Sep 21, 2003
865 posts
48 upvotes
I would carry both a Visa and a Mastercard.

MC and MC related debit cards are popular in Holland; Visa and Visa related debit cards are popular in France.

We tried to use a Barclays (affiliated with Visa) debit card in Holland at night and there was only one machine in the entire city where we were staying that would accept it, but there were dozens of machines that would accept my Mastercard.

France was the opposite, but not as extreme.

The credit cards themselves could both be used for shopping and meals, it was the bank machines that were the problem.

Mind you, this was 15 years ago. Things could be different now.
_________________________________________

Top