Q – We will be leaving for Europe in three months and we’re concerned about whether or not our credit cards will be accepted or do we need a chip? Also wondering about a pin number. It seems we’re quite a bit ahead of the Euros on this issue as we don’t need the nonsense of all these special cards and numbers. Can we assume they will accept both my Visa and Mastercards?
A – Actually, we’re quite a bit behind the “Euros” on matters of credit card technologies. You absolutely need chip-embedded credit cards when you travel. Your older US technology cards will likely not be accepted. Most locations also require a pin number that must be programmed into the swipe machine that reads your chip number.
About two years ago, Visa and Mastercard decided to go-ahead with the less-secure chip and signature technology instead of “chip and pin,” The thinking on this is that Americans are deemed not smart enough to properly handle and remember various pin numbers. The card merchants believe that retail spending would have nose-dived had pin numbers been required.
You will generally have a merchant “sigh” when you indicate you don’t know your pin number. They will then figure out a way to accept your already outdated “chip-only” card.