SwedeSpeed - Volvo Performance Forum banner

1 - 20 of 30 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am starting the prep work for our trip in September, and are now realizing the foreign transaction fees associated with our Disney Visa at 3%. I also know of the chip and pin issues associated with the card. So has anyone had a generally good experience with a specific credit card? Maybe a combo of using credit and taking some cash at an ATM, or using cash for everything? For example, a new British Airways visa has the chip and has no foreign transaction fees, but has quite a pricey annual rate. So any recommendations would be great - thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
107 Posts
I am starting the prep work for our trip in September, and are now realizing the foreign transaction fees associated with our Disney Visa at 3%. I also know of the chip and pin issues associated with the card. So has anyone had a generally good experience with a specific credit card? Maybe a combo of using credit and taking some cash at an ATM, or using cash for everything? For example, a new British Airways visa has the chip and has no foreign transaction fees, but has quite a pricey annual rate. So any recommendations would be great - thanks!
We use the capital one visa that has no transaction fees and no annual fee. All you need is enter your pin number during your purchase. We also set up a capital one savings account and got the ATM card for cash withdrawals. Worked great.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
I take several trips abroad every year and find that Europeans, in general, are more cashless than Americans. Cards are used for even the smallest purchases. That said, getting some cash from an ATM is a good idea. Some machines dispense only large notes (some in Stockholm were in multiples of 500kr - approx $70) however merchants generally didn't balk at accepting large bills like they do in the USA. Find out what your bank charges for foreign withdrawls as well as currency conversion so you're not unpleasantly surprised.

Credit cards are still the easiest way to pay, even with fees. I signed up for the Chase BA Visa last year. I recently returned from my OSD trip (May 2012) and used it without any problems in Sweden and Denmark. I have also used it in UK, France, Belgium and Netherlands without issue.

There is a great bonus miles offer which, IMO, justifies the annual fee: 100,000 bonus Avios points (aka: BA frequent flyer points). BUT, the terms of the offer are different depending on where you apply:

1. At Chase website, you get 50K points after 1st purchase + 25K points after $10,000 spent + 25K points after next $10,000 spent. So, you need to spend $20,000 to get the full bonus. Fee is $95/year. APR shows as 15.24% (when I applied last year it only required $2,500 spent to get the additional 50K points).
2. On BA website, (they offer a link at the end of the booking process*), you get 50K points for 1st purchase + 50K points on the 1 year anniversary of being a cardholder. Fee is $75/year. APR shows as 14.24%. So, for $150 (2 years of annual fees) you have miles to use on BA or any of their partners (including American Airlines).
* Go through the booking process for any flight (I did PHL-LHR one way for a random date). Fill out info as requested; when the payment screen pops up (where you enter your credit card info), the offer appeared at the top of the page. Other sites have reported that you can take advantage of the offer WITHOUT following through on the ticket purchase. I already have the card so I didn't complete the process and can't confirm for sure that it works.

A few things about the BA card:
- it utilizes EMV technology: an embedded chip that is commonplace in non-USA issued cards
- you will need to insert the card in the little card machine at sales points instead of handing it to the clerk
- when prompted for a PIN, you just press the green button since it does NOT use PIN technology
- a receipt will print that requires your signature
- keep a pen handy to sign since many sales clerks went fumbling to find one (locals enter a PIN and don't sign their sales slips - like we do in the USA for debit card purchases)
- Swedish sales slips also have a line to fill in for "justification" (or something like that). Only once was I asked to fill in my passport number (I could've written anything; the cashier didn't confirm it and seemed totally disinterested). Otherwise I left it blank. I asked about it and was told it was "a silly regulation" to prove I was who I said I was.
- if you use your card in a restaurant, they want to know how much of a tip (if any) you're leaving before running the card.

You can request a PIN for your BA card, however this is for cash advances at ATMs and not for sales point transactions. The USA has yet to adopt "Chip and PIN" technology as the standard for credit cards. The BA card is a "Chip and Signature" card, a sort of "hybrid" I guess.

Unattended sales points are the biggest problem. The card did NOT work in a train station ticket machine in Lund, Sweden, nor in Copenhagen train station to purchase toilet tokens (we didn't have any Danish Kroner coins...). It did, however, work in the Danish Rail ticket machine at Copenhagen Central Station. I'd suspect the same problem at gas stations, however I only drove the car 390 miles and returned it to the FDC nearly empty.

I put nearly all of my trip expenses on this card, and with the cost of everything in Scandinavia the transaction fees would've added up quickly.

My traveling companion used a Chase Sapphire card. Also no foreign transaction fees. It's a traditional "swipe" card but didn't cause any problems with sales people. There were a few instances where the magnetic stripe wasn't read by the scanner, requiring multiple swipes. One clerk said she rarely uses the swipe and it probably stopped working from lack of use!?!

I you are looking for a true "Chip and PIN" card, there is one offered by Andrews Federal Credit Union. I haven't checked it out but I believe there is a 1% fee for foreign transactions. If I were traveling more often overseas I would definitely consider it for the convenience.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
257 Posts
Andrews Fed Credit Union has true Chip and Pin Visa Cards. I got one a few months back in anticipation of upcoming trip to France. I have heard that they work great.

Capital One Venture Credit card [swipe] has no annual fee and no Foreign transaction fee.

A credit union account with Debit card for ATM use may provide the lowest rates. Pen Fed may be one of the better ones. Or try a local one.

Be sure to notify your bank that you are traveling, when and where for both your ATM card and credit card to avoid having Fraud alert put into effect.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,683 Posts
I am starting the prep work for our trip in September, and are now realizing the foreign transaction fees associated with our Disney Visa at 3%. I also know of the chip and pin issues associated with the card. So has anyone had a generally good experience with a specific credit card? Maybe a combo of using credit and taking some cash at an ATM, or using cash for everything? For example, a new British Airways visa has the chip and has no foreign transaction fees, but has quite a pricey annual rate. So any recommendations would be great - thanks!
We used the Visa CapitalOne Venture card and it worked great. The 2 points for every dollar spent can add up quickly, especially if you have multiple cards! Ours did not have the chip, but this was no problem..........have fun with your planning.......
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
We got the Andrews card with a chip, and it was fabulous to use everywhere. Much easier to use than a normal mag card swipe card. I don't understand why the US has not adapted this system, it is completely instantaneous and universal. Hardly need cash.

But beware that the Andrews card requires a lot of lead time as it is so popular. We had to pay a $50 expedite fee to get it fed exed to us in time for our trip. But totally worth it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
We got the Andrews card with a chip, and it was fabulous to use everywhere. Much easier to use than a normal mag card swipe card. I don't understand why the US has not adapted this system, it is completely instantaneous and universal. Hardly need cash.

But beware that the Andrews card requires a lot of lead time as it is so popular. We had to pay a $50 expedite fee to get it fed exed to us in time for our trip. But totally worth it.
If I may ask, how long was the process to set up an account and get the card? We are currently Credit Union members already.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
256 Posts
If I may ask, how long was the process to set up an account and get the card? We are currently Credit Union members already.
Another Andrews fan here. It took probably three weeks total to get our card in hand this spring. But we were not in any hurry. Andrews actually has you fill out a credit check form and requires a copy of your paycheck. Imagine that - a bank (well, yes a CU) that checks out their customers before issuing credit. That's a plus to me right away.

We did find in Sweden and Norway that the cc machines usually, but not always, took the card as chip and signature instead of asking for the pin.

And chip and pin is finally coming to the US supposedly. Visa has a requirement that all merchants accept ERV cards (the official term) by next summer. But it's inevitable that they will stall and extend that date (my opinion only). Right now it's less expensive for them to pay up for for fraudulent use than to pay for new technology. Sigh.....

EDIT - there was another thread on Andrews earlier this year:
http://forums.swedespeed.com/showth...with-TRUE-chip-and-pin!&p=1868182#post1868182
See my post #8 on the method I used to sign up. Others used different methods that worked equally well

Andrews does charge 1% foreign transaction fee. But you get about 1% back on all purchases in a points program toward free merchandise (a new toaster anyone?). I would prefer hard cold cash back like my other Visa card.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,185 Posts
I also got the Andrews Pin&Chip credit card. The application process was a bit of a PITA but I was glad I had it. Most places could handle mag stripe; the real value of chip was automated facilities -- gasoline pumps and ticket dispensers.

As noted in other posts, Andrews does pass along the 1% Visa foreign transaction fee.

I also carried a Travelex Euro denominated pre-paid debit card with Pin&Chip. In many ways that was a waste due to fees/exchange rates but it was my emegency reserve during our 3 week trip.

I used my ATM card a fair amount to get currency. I like having currency (it works even if hte networks are down) and feel silly paying for small purchases with plastic.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
160 Posts
Just come back from OSD.

I have both Capital One and Chase Sapphire Preferred. They both don't have the foreign transaction fee. You will need to get the PIN code from the bank. Based on my experience, most of the merchants will require the PIN code to use the card. I requested the PIN code from the banks before the trip. It is actually the same PIN code that you can withdrawn cash from the credit cards. I did withdrawn cash a few times from ATM *using my debit card) but I mainly used the credit cards whenever I can use it.

Good luck and have fun.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
170 Posts
rpmccormick's great travel thread actually made me look into this chip/pin credit card issue. Do most of you use one of these in your European travels? I don't have one, but I haven't been to Europe for maybe 6-7 years. Has anyone run into trouble because they only had the chip/signature card?

I'm wondering if I should apply for one. And if so, which one? I know there's Andrews Federal. Have anyone used any other? Any catches or drawbacks?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,725 Posts
Food for thought; We left on a vacation in fall 2014 with our trusty Delta Amex and a Regional Bank Visa Card. At our layover at JFK one of the restaurant workers took our numbers down. Upon landing in Sweden we received texts from AMEX that charges were already being attempted in Florida. We called explained our situation and had them deny any charges not emanating from our trip. We started using the VISA card and were denied a few times. We tried to call but they were closed in the US. Once we did reach them we explained that we were in Europe (even after we called them prior to the trip to let them know). We continued to have problems with this card for the remainder of the trip. We then ran into problems in Russia and had to resort to using their bank machines to get cash to pay for things. Throughout the whole trip we had issues with Chip and Sign at small shops, restaurants and kiosks (as one mentioned above). Upon our return we cancelled our VISA card (because they did not have 24 hour assistance which is vital when calling from Europe) and picked up a Chase Visa. Chase had 24/7 assistance and no transaction fees when international. We've used this card in the UK already and didn't have any issues with Chip and Sig. But ultimately the best card is a Chip and Pin. My friend in the card business said its coming here within a year. All in all if you travel wise, with a back up plan, you should be okay. But just watch out for those kiosks for the toilettes!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,683 Posts
We are still using our Visa CapitalOne Venture cards and now they do have the newer chip technology. I called today and there is no PIN number associated with my two cards. Hopefully this will be no problem for our May trip.....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
I used HSBC Mastercard in Paris last summer, it was accepted everywhere although I had to sign all of the time. When I used at Metro ticket machines, it didn't ask for pin either, could be the amount is not large enough.

Get a card without foreign transaction fee, Capital One cashback card is good. And when the merchant gives you an option to choose Euro or USD, always choose Euro.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,006 Posts
Regarding credit card fees: I guess the thing is to look at the total situation because much of stuff we're talking about can be marketing hype.

If you charge something in a foreign currency on your card a couple of things may happen:
  • The charge will be converted to your local currency, and
  • You may incur a foreign transaction fee.
Cards that indicate they have NO foreign transaction fees you'll want to check as to how they figure out the currency conversion. Many are marketed as no foreign transaction fees but make it up by giving you a less favourable foreign conversion rate. And some have recurring membership fees you may also want to consider.


Regarding cards with chips: my Dutch bank account in the early 1990's had it - maybe even late 1980's (so long ago can't remember). Why the US is decades behind ... ?! :(

Most banks in the Eu have issued cards with chips in them for years / decades. While chip & pin is becoming more prevalent many countries are still doing chip and sign (like the US). I encountered it a lot in Germany.

In Oct 2015 I had no problem with non chip & pin transactions in these countries: GB BE SE DE CZ PL SK HU AT. In a number of places when making a purchase a receipt was printed for a signature but I was told don't bother as they just throw the paper away - go figure.

All of my fuel purchases were made by going into the station or shop and paying at the counter. In all cases I either inserted the card (for chip) or swipped (for magstripe). (I never paid at the pump.)

If you are traveling in one country or a number of countries that use a common currency it would be a good idea to have that local currency and/or the Euro for those just-in-case scenarios. You should also have cash on you because in some countries / jurisdictions it is expected for road fines to be paid on the spot.


Other thoughts:

I'd recommend calling your financial institution in advance and notify them of where you will be using the card (usually countries are good enough) and the date range when you'll be traveling. And it is better off to be surprised in a phone call at home before your trip (that your bank / credit union won't allow transactions in certain countries) than when you're trying to check into a hotel 10,000 km away from home.

I'd also ask for the direct (e.g., non-toll free) number for card assistance. Sometimes this is printed on the card / sometimes not. Also ask if it is 24x7 ... and if it is not, why not! (What good is it to answer the phone in local US business hours when you are 6 to 12 time zones away?!)

In at least the last 30 years I can't think of any place I've been where I have not been able to get local currency out of the bank in the wall (ATM, Geldautomat, etc.) No need to get local currencies in advance - or travelers' checks. Still good to check with your financial institution about any limitations or restrictions in foreign countries.

Bring multiple cards. I used one with all the big ticket items (hotel reservations especially those guaranteed to the card) - and a different card for random purchases. I had a third backup card (with non-optimal rates) for just in case.

During my 2015 OSD trip I was in Sweden twice (two days for pickup and two for drop off) and didn't end up with any crowns - everything was done with plastic :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
We are still using our Visa CapitalOne Venture cards and now they do have the newer chip technology. I called today and there is no PIN number associated with my two cards. Hopefully this will be no problem for our May trip.....
CapitalOne only offers Chip&Signature cards, I heard it is Visa's policy. On the other hand, Mastercard offers chip&pin cards. It would be better to have a chip&pin card as a backup card in case you need to purchase gas/tickets at unattended machines.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
170 Posts
We're only going to be in Sweden and Denmark. I guess I'm most concerned about stuff like kiosks for train/bus tickets, gas stations, ATMs or any other thing that is automated (like toilets??).

On another note, should I assume it's best to get SEK & DKK if we need cash? It doesn't seem like the euro is needed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
390 Posts
CapitalOne only offers Chip&Signature cards, I heard it is Visa's policy. On the other hand, Mastercard offers chip&pin cards. It would be better to have a chip&pin card as a backup card in case you need to purchase gas/tickets at unattended machines.
We've used a BofA Visa chip and signature card for a number of years without problems in Ireland and the UK but found that it didn't work in the Copenhagen train station machines. Good card otherwise as there's no foreign transaction fees. Much more useable than AMEX which nobody seems to take these days in Europe. Don't remember having any issues in southern Sweden though.

Previous posters advice is good on notifying your bank on when you travel. They have strange algorithms for fraud detection. But even then I'd get text messages in Ireland about a charge that my wife made in the UK when we'd been there for over a year. It's not fun to find that your card is blocked when you go to use it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,185 Posts
I make a point of visiting AAA for $100-$200 worth of foreign currency before the trip. That's enough for a taxi trip and a small meal if cards are down for some reason. I then make a point of having around $100-200 equivalent in local currency in our pockets at all times (I'm not fanatical about it -- I don't run to an ATM when I get to $99). Then again, I have a portable sat nav (GPS) with Euro maps, carry paper maps, and have the app on my phone; I also roughly re-plan each day with something like google and maybe paper maps.

I carried ATM cards from two different banks as we as credit cards from different banks. That way, if one is compromised, the others should still be good. I called everyone before the trip to let them know dates and countries. My wife and I have independent credit cards. I do NOT use debit cards -- if that's compromised, any outstanding bill payments from your checking account could/will bounce.

For our OSD trip, I picked up an Andrew's FCU Visa for the EMV trip. For a recent trip to the UK, I still had that card and most of my others had migrated to EMV.
 
1 - 20 of 30 Posts
Top