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What are some ways to increase the chances of US-issued credit and debit cards being accepted overseas?

  • If you are visiting a "Chip and PIN" location where card readers require a chip card and PIN number, e.g., most European countries, obtain a PIN for your credit card before your trip. Most American-issue cards are not chip capable but store clerks can usually enter your number manually. However, in some cases the clerk may still require a PIN to verify your identity.
  • Let your bank know when and where you expect to use your card so that the bank doesn't block your transaction on suspicion of fraud.
  • Carry multiple cards should one of them fail.
  • Have your bank's customer service number handy should you need to make a long-distance collect call.
  • Confirm whether your card's brand is accepted by checking for the corresponding Visa, MasterCard or Amex logos. Please be aware that Visa Electron and MasterCard Maestro use different networks than those for U.S.-issued cards.
  • Have sufficient cash or traveler's checks as backup and be sure to have an ATM card handy.
last updated 2008.10.19
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