Greetings. I’ve just returned home from a week abroad, and I wanted to share a few thoughts about credit card usage in Europe.
As I noted in a previous post, you’ll often see recommendations from travel experts to get a chip-and-PIN (EMV) credit card before heading overseas. But is this really necessary?
I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t want to find out the hard way, so I went ahead and requested a “global” version of my Citi Dividend World MasterCard just to be on the safe side. There’s no harm in being over-prepared, right?
Well, guess what? I was able to use my Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard everywhere I went. I was especially pleased about this because this card (unlike my others) doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee for overseas purchases.
Note: Many credit card issuers charge such fees — typically in the 2.7%-3.0% range — for any transactions that aren’t denominated in US dollars.
And yes, I even used this card at unmanned terminals in train stations, on tollways, and in a gas station. These are (reportedly) the places where you’re most likely to have trouble with a chip-less card, but mine worked fine.
The only instance in which I saw an old school card get denied was when a traveling companion’s card wouldn’t read due to a worn stripe. He switched to a chipped card and all was well, but… I used my Arrival card (sans chip) without any problems.
So no, you probably don’t need a credit card with an EMV chip to get by while traveling in Europe. Having one in my wallet provided peace of mind, so I don’t regret jumping through the hoops to get it, but I never actually used it.