Carrying Credit Cards Around Europe
Credit card approval is not as worldwide as in the United States, especially in Eastern Europe, but growing progressively. VISA and MasterCard acceptance is most widespread in the UK, France, Norway and Sweden. In mainland Europe, merchants, if they accept credit cards, may require you to spend a minimum amount. Even if you see a card machine, it doesn’t mean that an internationally standard card like VISA or MasterCard will be accepted; a number of merchants in mainland Europe only accept local cards (i.e. without the Amex, MasterCard or VISA logo). Some countries command that merchants check your ID for purchases of as little as €50 , and many shops will claim on ID for any credit card transaction. If your credit card is to be paid in a different currency or debit card is linked to a bank account also of a different currency to the country you are visiting, you may face foreign exchange transaction fees so check your card issuer.
Whether you’re travelling for business or leisure, taking a credit card with you can make your life easier particularly when you travel internationally. Know more about using credit cards in Europe so you have access to the funds you need while keeping your information secure.
When it comes to in a foreign country transactions, cards offer travellers both convenience and protection. You need not to carry much cash, since you can use a card for purchases as well as cash take out in local currency, and if a card is lost or stolen, you may be able to get a substitute while you are still on your trip. If you have an American Express Credit Card you will not be responsible for any unreliable charges.
Before Departure Get a No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card
Bank cards and credit cards have fees for transactions made aboard. These fees in general range from 2-5% of each purchase and can therefore result in you paying considerably more than the listed price of anything you purchase overseas. Therefore, before you depart, check your credit card agreements to see if they include such fees. Apply for a no foreign transaction fee credit card that does not charge additional for ATM withdrawals in other EU countries.
Call Your Credit Card Issuer Before Leaving
Once you have the required credit cards, alert your card provider of your travel plans and ask for the number that you can call collect for assistance while in Europe. This will not only certify that your cards do not get blocked because of suspicious activity but will also give you a way to contact your issuer free of charge if something comes up.
While Abroad, Avoid Dynamic Currency Conversion
Would you like to pay in euro or dollars If you think this is a simple politeness, think again. By paying in dollars when you’re in another country, you practice what’s known as “dynamic currency conversion,” which is a charge you pay for the merchant to exchange the purchase price for you from the local currency to dollars. The issue here is that the exchange rate used might be one set by the merchant, and worse than you might get at a bank or official currency converter.
Another fee travellers need to be aware of Foreign transaction fees. Some credit card issuers charge additional fees based on your transactions. Before you leave, make sure you talk with your credit card provider to understand the fees. If you aren’t comfortable with the fees you’ll be charged, consider other payment options.
Carry more than one card
Carry more than one card so you have a backup if you have a difficulty or move toward the credit value limit on your main card. Bear each card separately for security when using credit cards overseas.
Make a list of your credit card account numbers and the European helpline phone numbers to call if your cards are lost or stolen, or if you’re having troubles using them. Before you leave home, U.S. based toll free numbers aren’t accessible from outside North America. Bring one copy of the list with you, and leave another with someone you trust at home.
When using a credit card overseas, your card company will mechanically switch your purchases from the local currency to Euros on your bill. Most card companies swap money at rates that are more favorable than what consumers would get on their own. You may earn a rewards for foreign currency exchange for each purchase. These amounts vary from card to card, and will be outline in your cardholder contract.
Get a detailed list of any items being shipped to you back home especially if you used your credit card for the purchase. It’s also a better idea to purchase insurance in case of loss, theft or damage. Your card may already have a purchase security plan in place.
Chip & Pin Cards
New chip implanted Cards are increasingly popular outside the United States, particularly in Europe. This new technology, known as E.M.V. (Europay, MasterCard and Visa), uses embedded chips to store personal information about the cardholder. A personal PIN is then required for certification.
American Express Card Members may still use their magnetic stripe Cards worldwide, without a PIN. Simply present your Card to the vendor for approval; even if the merchant’s terminal is set up for chip and pin, it will still accept magnetic stripe Cards. In some places, like trains, subways etc. they only accepts chip-and-pin Cards, simply present your magnetic stripe Card for assistance and authorisation and make sure the vendor accepts your credit card brand and then explain that your charge needs to be processed with a swipe.
Acceptance Will Vary
In Europe many small business merchants and even some cafes, hotels and restaurants set minimum charge value limits or are cash-only operators. To avoid having difficulties, bring enough local currency to get you through the day or, if you are at a dining concern, check the vendor’s credit policy before you order. It is also a good idea to bring multiple forms of payment when travelling abroad.
Always Carry Your Passport
With the “smart cards” chip-and-pin technology, European credit cards have surpassed U.S. credit cards in terms of deceit security. Cards in the U.S. still use the less complicated magnetic stripe system, which is no longer trusted abroad. As a result, merchants mainly in Europe will not acknowledge your credit card if you don’t have accurate identification. As long as you carry your passport, you should be all right. Merchants simply want to be able to validate that the person using a credit card is actually the one authorised to do so.
Keep all documents of abroad transactions in a safe place. Make sure your receipts are itemized if you are making multiple purchases at a single location. You may need this break when you go through customs on your way home.
If you travel to a country with a Value Added Tax (VAT), which is similar to sales tax, you may be permitted to a reimbursement if you are not a citizen of that country. VAT ranges from 3-20% or more, depending on the type of product which is already included in the price, it is not added at point of sale the way sales tax is in the U.S.
Bring your passport when you shop, and tell the merchant before you charge an item that you are interested in VAT repay documentation. You’ll need to submit a sales receipt and the VAT documents at the airport before a refund will be processed. VAT may be refunded on your card or by cheque, depending on the policy of the store where you bought the item.
When using a credit card overseas, hotels and car rental companies often place a “hold” on your credit card for estimated charges, which may tie up your credit line. It will be released if you are not required to pay the charges, but you should be aware of how it may impact your spending. Check your credit limit online while abroad to ensure you have right to use to the funds you believe should be available to you.
Sometimes travel ling abroad can be both confuse and expensive, there are ways to reduce the cost and bother of spending abroad. As long as you have a credit card with no foreign transaction fee, you inform your credit card company of your travel plans and you only pay for purchases expressed in terms of the local currency, you should be able to keep away from post-trip credit statement surprises.
The most important thing to remember is
Secure your cards. Don’t carry credit cards in a backpack, bag or a suitcase, and don’t keep your wallet in a hip pocket or a belt pouch. Pickpockets and purse snatchers will be watching you all the time.
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