Will my Credit Card Work in France? Episode 99

Category: France How To

Will My Credit Card Work in France?

This episode is my answer to a question sent in by listener Michael who asked: Will my credit card work in France? I've mentioned credit cards in various episodes—notably here Store Hours and Credit Cards in France, Episode 10 but also in episode Paris Trip Report, Episode 77 with Shari and Craig.

I haven't done a show yet all about the new types of credit cards that people are getting in North America and whether or not it changes anything for visitors. Today I delve into all of that, so you can be sure where you stand.

Episode Highlights

  • Why Is There So Little Security on US Credit Cards?
  • French Credit Cards Have Been Protected with a Pin Code for a Long Time
  • Do You Have a Credit Card or a Debit Card?
  • Check on Your Card Limits Before You Travel
  • How In-Person Purchases Work in France
  • Paying for Gas in France
  • Paying for Tolls in France
  • Do You Need a Pin and Chip Card to Come to France?

French Tip of the Week

  • Ma carte ne marche pas, comment faire ?
  • Est-ce qu'il y a une station service avec une caissière près d'ici ?


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Discussed in this Episode

  • American Credit Cards in France
  • Chip and Pin
  • Chip and Sign
  • French Tip of the Week
  • Tolls and Credit Cards in France
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Let's Review

So, if you're asking will my credit card work in France? This is what you need to know:

  • If your card works in the US to withdraw cash from an ATM, it will  also work to withdraw cash from and ATM in France.
  • If your card does not work in a machine in France, find an attendant. Humans attendants can run any type of card.
  • Generally speaking, there are no attendants at gas stations and toll booths in France.
  • Gas stations on the freeways (Autoroute) almost always have attendants, so do bigger gas stations in large cities. Buy your gas there (you will probably pay higher prices).
  • At toll boths always line up under the green arrow, those automated payment machines are programmed to take the widest array of credit cards. If that doesn't work, use the call button where the human attendant can run your card based on the numbers, just like they do when you place an order over the phone.
  • Do you NEED a chip and pin card when you travel to France? You do not, but it will make your life easier if you do.
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Show Notes 

Category: France How To

3 Replies to “Will my Credit Card Work in France? Episode 99”

  1. Hi,

    I just thought I would leave a piece of advice for Americans traveling to France with credit and debit cards. If you don’t want to have any foreign transaction fees get a Capital One credit card and if you want to be able to withdrawal money from any ATM without a fee you can open a Charles Schwab checking account. With Charles Schwab you can withdrawal money from any ATM in the world without a fee. Also both of these companies now have chips in their cards. When I lived in France this was how I paid for almost everything and never paid a single fee. However I did have a French card with a chip for use at the RER station, gas station and paying bills (but my American credit card didn’t have a chip at the time).

  2. Thank you Annie! Greatly appreciate your advice. I’ll now be better prepared with backup plans!
    I did check with several different American Credit Card issuers and they all said they have chips, but couldn’t associate a PIN with it to be helpful abroad. So I’ll load up on cash/coins!

  3. I recently came back from France and had only taken one credit card – Amazon Visa which has a PIN number and chip. It did NOT work for point of sale transaction. The reason I was told when I got back home here is that you cannot insert it into a machine there. The first time I tried to use it I inserted it into the machine and entered my PIN. It did not work. I tried it three times. You can only use it to swipe a machine or to tap. Most machines are older and you cannot tap. Therefore I was totally stuck with no Visa that worked as after three tries, the company blocked my Visa. So you need to correct your information. Thanks.

    1. I’m sorry this happened to you Leslie. It sounds like Amazon credit cards are not made to work outside of the US even if they have a chip and a pin. Discover cards don’t work most places outside of the US either.

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