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First time traveling to Europe - CC questions

Valued Contributor

Re: First time traveling to Europe - CC questions


@wrote:

1.  You can bring your Amex, but many places won't accept it.  Don't bring Discover; almost nobody accepts it.  Visa and MasterCard both work well everywhere in Europe.  Don't believe the people who say that some places only take MasterCard; that's no longer true.

2.  Bring at least two credit cards (issued by different banks) and two debit cards (also from different banks).

3.  All the cards you bring, both credit and debit, should have an EMV chip.  At least one of the credit cards should have a PIN so you can use it at unattended ticket machines, highway tolls, parking garages, etc.

4.  The credit cards should not charge foreign transaction fees.

5.  If you purchase advance tickets to tourist attractions over the internet, you should sign up for Verify by Visa.  Not all banks offer that service (I'm looking at you, Chase and NFCU), so that may influence which cards you take.


these are great points, to add to # 2, yes having 2 debits is ultra important.   to this end what I did is join https://www.sdfcu.org/ which was an hp, and then get a debit and visa which both have offline chip/pin.  an hp is good for 60 days.  they are a very down home cu, I like them a lot for what they are.  I also take a nfcu debit and cc as my other backup.

Message 11 of 23
Frequent Contributor

Re: First time traveling to Europe - CC questions

I have been to Europe a few times, the first time I went I paid for everything in cash by simply pulling Pounds/Euro's out of the ATM with my debit card. The Last couple time's I went I found it was best to only carry a small amount of cash (100 euro's or so) because cash comes in handy for taxi's, buying things from small vendors, etc...depending on the country/city your visiting many taxi's only take cash it seems in my experience.

 

I saw places that would take AMEX and I took my AMEX with me, however since mine charges FTF's I never used it.

 

I primarily used my Citi AAdvantage because it has no FTF's and the WEMC was accepted everywhere I needed to use it and I got quite a few miles earned from it. Obviously there are better choices out there to use in terms of cash back and other rewards, but at the time that was what I used because I had just gotten it for the miles SUB.

 

Another thing to consider is, when asked if you want to pay in the local currency or the USD, I found it was almost ALWAYS beneficial to use the local currency when using my CC for transaction's. It seems that when you pay in USD you are paying the exchange value that the vendor determines (often this exchange value cover's the fee's of exchanging currency) while if you use the local currency you come out ahead.

 

A great card to have would be a Chip card with a pin that has no FTF's with a good rewards system...not sure of any card's that meet this off the top of my head but maybe someone else will chime in.

 

Have fun and best of luck, Europe is a fantastic place with great history and culture...oh and the food is pretty good too (not so much true in London, aside from indian street food)

AMEX BCE ($39,500) CITI AAdvantage ($18,500) Region's Platinum Card ($14,400) Discover IT ($13,000) Macy's ($7,500) Chase FU ($10,000) TU:768 EX: 767
Message 12 of 23
Frequent Contributor

Re: First time traveling to Europe - CC questions

Does NFCU debit card have chip and pin capability ,too? 

 

I was looking up cards on the EMV CVM Database. Couldn't find Barclay Ring in the list. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that it is the same as the other Barclay cards listed. Hoping also that Samsung Pay will work abroad. I think I will plan on that as my first attempt and NFCU chip as my second. The Ring and cash will be back up. 

Message 13 of 23
Established Contributor

Re: First time traveling to Europe - CC questions


@wrote:

Does NFCU debit card have chip and pin capability ,too? 

 

I was looking up cards on the EMV CVM Database. Couldn't find Barclay Ring in the list. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that it is the same as the other Barclay cards listed. Hoping also that Samsung Pay will work abroad. I think I will plan on that as my first attempt and NFCU chip as my second. The Ring and cash will be back up. 


Yes, NFCU cards have chip+PIN, but the cards default to chip+signature when a human being is processing the transaction.  When a human being is not present, as in a ticket machine, it will switch over to PIN mode.  I believe the Barclay Arrival+ card works the same way.  I don't know about the Barclay Ring.  If I were you, I would call them and ask.

In my wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve • PenFed Power Cash Rewards
Also have: Chase United MileagePlus Explorer • UNFCU Azure • NFCU cashRewards • NFCU Go Rewards • PenFed Promise
Message 14 of 23
Established Contributor

Re: First time traveling to Europe - CC questions


@wrote:

 Another thing to consider is, when asked if you want to pay in the local currency or the USD, I found it was almost ALWAYS beneficial to use the local currency when using my CC for transaction's. It seems that when you pay in USD you are paying the exchange value that the vendor determines (often this exchange value cover's the fee's of exchanging currency) while if you use the local currency you come out ahead.

 


Yes, this is very important.  Never pay in dollars.  I should have mentioned it in my earlier list.

In my wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve • PenFed Power Cash Rewards
Also have: Chase United MileagePlus Explorer • UNFCU Azure • NFCU cashRewards • NFCU Go Rewards • PenFed Promise
Message 15 of 23
Frequent Contributor

Re: First time traveling to Europe - CC questions


@wrote:

wrote:

 Another thing to consider is, when asked if you want to pay in the local currency or the USD, I found it was almost ALWAYS beneficial to use the local currency when using my CC for transaction's. It seems that when you pay in USD you are paying the exchange value that the vendor determines (often this exchange value cover's the fee's of exchanging currency) while if you use the local currency you come out ahead.

 


Yes, this is very important.  Never pay in dollars.  I should have mentioned it in my earlier list.


Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way after paying in dollar's many a times...finally one night bored in a hotel room in Paris while is was storming out, I googled why vendor's do this and realized my mistake.

AMEX BCE ($39,500) CITI AAdvantage ($18,500) Region's Platinum Card ($14,400) Discover IT ($13,000) Macy's ($7,500) Chase FU ($10,000) TU:768 EX: 767
Message 16 of 23

Re: First time traveling to Europe - CC questions


@wrote:

 Just make sure you charge in the local currency rather than having them convert to dollars.  It's usually cheaper that way.


This! Make sure you tell them to charge in local currency before they swipe. Based on the system they have, you can either (1) chose $ or local currency after they swipe OR (2) chose i.e. tell them to do local currency before they swipe

 

This will save you a tonne of money! 

Message 17 of 23

Re: First time traveling to Europe - CC questions

Thank you all so very much. You are generous with your suggestions and your knowledge. I do appreciate it.

 

A little more information....

 

I have the Chase Amazon Prime Visa that I use for Amazon purchases and I have the AmEx BCP that I use for most everything else. Besides these, I have two other credit cards that do not really serve any purpose to me. I have a Gander Mountain Mastercard ($1750 cl / Comenity) and a Harley Davidson Visa ($3000 cl / USbank).

 

I will be taking these cards, along with my USbank debit card. My plan was to use the Amazon Visa to avoid FTF and use my debit card for ATM withdrawls. A lot of the vacation will be prepaid through a travel agent and tour companies. My GF will also be carrying her debit cards and at least one 0 FTF travel card. Unless advised otherwise, I would really prefer to not apply for any new cards for this trip. I am still trying to recover from the Fico score drop after opening the Amex account and a new auto loan in the last 3 months (thin file).

 

Am I being unreasonable? Would it be possible to get by with the cards that I have, even if I need to carry more cash on me? Or, do I just need to bite the bullet and get another (better) travel card?   Once again, Thank you. I appreciate all of the advice.

Message 18 of 23
Valued Contributor

Re: First time traveling to Europe - CC questions


@wrote:

Thank you all so very much. You are generous with your suggestions and your knowledge. I do appreciate it.

 

A little more information....

 

I have the Chase Amazon Prime Visa that I use for Amazon purchases and I have the AmEx BCP that I use for most everything else. Besides these, I have two other credit cards that do not really serve any purpose to me. I have a Gander Mountain Mastercard ($1750 cl / Comenity) and a Harley Davidson Visa ($3000 cl / USbank).

 

I will be taking these cards, along with my USbank debit card. My plan was to use the Amazon Visa to avoid FTF and use my debit card for ATM withdrawls. A lot of the vacation will be prepaid through a travel agent and tour companies. My GF will also be carrying her debit cards and at least one 0 FTF travel card. Unless advised otherwise, I would really prefer to not apply for any new cards for this trip. I am still trying to recover from the Fico score drop after opening the Amex account and a new auto loan in the last 3 months (thin file).

 

Am I being unreasonable? Would it be possible to get by with the cards that I have, even if I need to carry more cash on me? Or, do I just need to bite the bullet and get another (better) travel card?   Once again, Thank you. I appreciate all of the advice.


should have mentioned the gf, you are covered you dont need a thing.  enjoy

Message 19 of 23

Re: First time traveling to Europe - CC questions


@wrote:

europe is not the land of amex,  you do not want to take just that card unless you are going to museums, tours and 1*+ restaurants all the time.  you will want a visa or mastercard for sure and also a decent amount on your debit card.  most CU cards don't have a FTF, I use nfcu as my backup to amex and chase when I travel.  the offline chip/pin i use is a visa from https://www.sdfcu.org/ , works well for bike rentals and such.  obviously dont go out with all your cards, leave a spare behind in your room.  I assume you are going to amsterdam, you must go to the rijksmuseum and vondelpark.  a combo boat tour / heineken tour is a fun way to check out the city,  when you are going the roof will be open.  I go to ams a lot as its so close to paris, wonderful place and people.  I would think you are going to paris,  get a tour of the palais garnier and check out les invalides - take a walk on rue cler - get a 3-day pass to the museums so you can go back several times.  in germany if you are near nurburgring get a taxi ride around it with sabine schmitz, its one trip you will not soon forget.  bring good shoes. 


Thank you SO much! I really appreciate all that you have said. I am very excited about this trip and would like to ask you 1000 questions! I know that this is not the correct forum for travel advice, so I will try to contain myself.

 

Also, I have been informed that my wonderful ability to focus on research and planning can be misunderstood as obsessive overthinking. I now know that when travel options are presented to me it is only as a courtesy and I really do not get to give input.

 

Indeed, we are spending 3 nights in Paris, traveling by train to Basel and getting on a river cruise to Amsterdam. We will spend our last 3 nights there before returning home. Paris is pretty planned out and tours are booked. Amsterdam tours are not yet booked, but the Rijksmuseum and Vondelpark are definitely on the list to do.

 

Anyway, thank you again. I do appreciate the great insight.

Message 20 of 23