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I just got back from the Netherlands recently and had glitches paying for many things because my credit cards were not accepted. It turns out, Europe is moving away from magnetic strip credit cards in favor of an embedded chip version. Their cards look the same but they don't have a magnetic strip. Instead they have a little picture of a microchip on them. A lot of places did not have a reader that could read a magnetic strip. I didn't have problems at any of the hotels I stayed at, but I ended up having to pay cash for a lot of transportation and restaurants.

Here's an article SGSpouse found on the subject: http://news.discovery.com/tech/smart-card-europe-120406.html...

So now I'm getting ready to leave for Taiwan in a little over a week. I'm wondering if anyone knows whether I'll have the same problem there and will it be better or worse than Holland. I didn't have any problem at all in India last month.
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Might have to find a bank if the ATMs didn't work! New replacement card before leaving would solve it, keep a list of pins separate, flipped about so only you know which is which...

And possibly there's a need for tinfoil shields on the cards, passports to stop the casual pickoff readers... maybe there's updated money belts... TSA will love it...
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Might have to find a bank if the ATMs didn't work! New replacement card before leaving would solve it ...

Thanks for the suggestions. I travel quite a bit so I am always prepared with multiple forms of currency. I do wear a money belt with some US emergency cash. I bring multiple credit and ATM cards and I usually convert some money to local currency prior to leaving the US so that I can be absolutely sure that I can at least get a cab to a bank or hotel from the airport when I land. In the past, I have also carried travelers checks as a possible form of convertible currency.

Most of these practices are a result of experiences traveling to third world countries as much as 30 years ago. In recent years, for example, I've found that travelers checks can often be very difficult to use even in banks. American Express travelers checks can often only be converted to local currency at American Express offices. Those officers are not that abundant where we like to travel and are often not very convenient even in major cities. Credit and ATM cards have made currency issues trivial in most countries . . . until this most recent trip to Holland.

Converting money in banks in some countries can be a very time-consuming and tedious ordeal. I once spent over 3 hours in a Bank in Peru converting currency. The first thing the bank did was collect passports from SGSpouse and I, then they basically held us hostage while forcing us to fill out massive amounts of paperwork and to sit through countless interviews. At the time, monetary conversion in Peru was legal only in the state banks. After that miserable experience, we only traded US dollars for Peruvian currency on the street. . . where the rate was much better than the bank rate, by the way. We figured we were better off facing South American jail time than spending more time in one of their banks. I've also sold US dollars on the black market in Italy when their bank was trying to crack down and control exchange rates.

Once, in Barcelona, my banks all decided that Barcelona was not a safe town for credit cards and all of my cards were blocked. (This was true even though I had called in advance and cleared my cards for use in Spain. It turns out that banks might not consider Barcelona the same as Spain. It would have been nice if they had told me before I traveled. I went back to Barcelona two years later and the banks still wouldn't clear credit cards for use in Barcelona at that time. At least this time I knew to call specifically about Barcelona). For some reason, I had one debit card that would still work in Barcelona. This was fine until I got ready to leave after a two week stay in a 4 star hotel. That charge was higher than the daily cap on my debit card. SGSpouse and I ended up emptying our money belts to convert US dollars and finding an American Express office to convert travelers checks in order to scrape together enough money to pay our bill and get out of Spain. That's the kind of thing I want to avoid in Taiwan. . . or be prepared for.

If Taiwan has transitioned to the new chippy cards, a new replacement credit card will not help this problem at all. US banks are not making the conversion to the chippy. They are maintaining the magnetic strip. A replacement card will simply provide me with a shiny version of the card that can't be used in the new machines. In the absence of specific information about what forms of currency will actually work, I will be forced to bring a lot of cash and travelers checks. I've found sites on the internet that claim that Visa and Mastercard credit cards and ATM cards will work, but that was true in Holland only a few years ago and you never know how old internet information really is.
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I really appreciate this post. I am traveling to Panama as most of you know. So I asked my daughter about this. She said credit cards of any kind don't work there. She uses her debit card only, which is fine. She said a friend had a problem with someone accessing her account (I guess with the pin) and she didn't have any problem getting it fixed. I didn't ask Heather about traveler's checks since you seem to think they aren't that easy to use. Besides, since Heather lives there I won't be without resources. And since Panama uses American dollars I don't have any kind of conversion problems. But I am definitely taking a money belt with money of course. That's a good idea.

She said when you get a taxi you tell them the area you live in (she lives in San Francisco area of Panama) then you tell them the street and then the closest intersection street...then when you spot your building you say 'Alto' for stop. She said they don't have addresses. I think she said you tell them to go a certain way, like via Espana and that will get them in the general area. Seems like a very wasteful way to use gasoline. And I think the price of gasoline there is a little bit more than here in Georgia.
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While stores have been occasionally challenged because none of my credit cards have chips, only one (a Clark's shoe store in England) couldn't accommodate my American plastic. I have never had an ATM/Bancomat refuse my US debit card.

If I had to pick a bank to use internationally which could make accommodations in many countries, it would have to be HSBC. While I am not a fan of their bank, they have become an indispensable convenience in personal international banking (being a premier customer helps a lot with them and is far less "expensive" than in any other financial institution which offers services otherwise only found in a "private bank".

Jeff
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While stores have been occasionally challenged because none of my credit cards have chips, only one (a Clark's shoe store in England) couldn't accommodate my American plastic.

I'm curious because I'm trying to figure out the timeline and extent of this chippy invasion. When did you run into problem with your card in England?

I was in Ireland and England (only Manchester) last year in October and never had any problems at all. This year's trip to the Netherlands was my first experience with the chippy and it was a real problem at almost every store, restaurant or ticket counter. They had credit card readers that were equipped with both a magnetic strip reader and a chippy reader, but the magnetic strip readers were all stuffed with cardboard and a notice not to use it. The ATMs and hotels all still allowed us to use magnetic strip cards. That was enough to get by. We carried a lot more Euros in cash than we normally would, but because the ATMs accepted our cards, that wasn't a big problem. We just had to figure it out.

At this point,I don't know whether this is a very recent development, is unique to Holland, or whether this is a global development that I'm going to have to deal with from now on.
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I am traveling to Panama as most of you know.

You probably shouldn't take my experience in the Netherlands as an indication of what you might face in Panama. My experience is that every country is different.

I don't know how much international currency experience you have so this might be advice you already know about, but make sure you contact your card holders before you travel and give them dates of your trip. They are all getting really quick to block cards if they don't think the spending pattern is consistent with the customer. Also, ask them about foreign transaction fees. I have cards that vary between 0% and 3% foreign transaction fees. Some charge additional fixed fees per transaction. Obviously I try to use my low fee cards if I can. Debit cards all have different rules too. Make sure you understand what they are going to charge you and when. Debit cards typically charge a lot if you use them for anything other than an ATM transaction in another country (they basically treat it like a high interest loan from the moment of purchase). You can often reduce your fees by using your card in the smartest way possible. For us, in countries that are not credit card friendly, the cheapest way to convert money is often to load up on as much ATM cash as you feel safe carrying using an ATM card, then spend cash. But not always. Sometimes, depending on how regulated money exchange is, you can get a much better conversion rate at a bank or Cambio. In your case, the fact that Panama uses the dollar should simplify the problem a lot.

Of course typically, you figure out the most efficient way to travel just about the time you have to come home. Then you have to cope with all the stupid, expensive mistakes you realize you made along the way.

I'm excited for you. Hope you have a great trip and post often about it.
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this has been the case in NL for at least the last 4 years.
(i have worked there at least 3 months every year since 2008- i am one of those damn migrant workers...)

In the Netherlands, ATMs abound for cash withdrawals - but some restaurants & bars, most if you are in smaller towns, take cash only or just cards with Chips.

This is also the case with most train ticket machines.*

The ChipKnip card is considered more secure -
There are 2 kinds- one attached to a CC, and one attached to the bank - but it is not attched to the full bank balance.
One moves $$ (ok €€) to one's Chip card and that is all that is accessible if the card is lost stolen
However IF the card is lost/stolen, whatever the balance was on the card is usually considered Gone.

There is a FB page titled something like "How the Effing ChipKnip ruined my life"

SO that is my long way of sayin, when in NL, have cash on hand and do not assume that a CC can be used everywhere.

peace & the ducth
t



* there may be a few in large cities that take a regular CC, but not many.
Even the ticket window at Schiphol is cash or Chip only.
Many Canadian CC, also now contain a chip.
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the magnetic strip readers were all stuffed with cardboard and a notice not to use it.

also- lots of places do that (including the cafeteria where I work) -
But, if that is all you have at least half the time they will just swipe your card behind the counter anyway (and half the time ask for ID)


peace & asking nicely
t


back to the boards on which i belong
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Thanks for the information. I'm in Taiwan right now. I was worried that I might face the same problem here. The chippy doesn't seem to have invaded here but very few places accept credit cards anyway. There are plenty of ATMs, though, so using cash is easy to do.
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