As I read up on Europe I have learned that a lot of places use a Chip and Pin technology in their credit cards. This means that you enter your credit card pin number after you insert your credit card. In the US though our credit cards have a magnetic strip. There is no pin to enter. I called my bank yesterday to find out if they were going to issue this type of credit card in the future and they said they have no plans to right now (though their website has information on them…)
My research indicated that we would probably be fine with just our standard US credit cards. I found that places we are most likely to run into trouble would be toll booths, gas stations, and train stations. However, we are planning using the train system and we are planning on renting a car – which will mean gas and tolls. So I thought it made sense to obtain a Chip and Pin credit card just in case.
The credit card I applied for is considered a Chip and Pin credit card but it will first act as a Chip and Signature credit card unless the place of business cannot handle that sort of transaction. Then the credit card would be a Chip and Pin credit card where I need to enter our PIN number to use it. Additionally, I found a Chip and Pin credit card issuer who does not charge an annual fee and does not charge a foreign transaction fee.
I’m hoping to travel more internationally after this trip too. So it made sense to get one of these cards. From what I’ve heard though sometimes it can take a while to actually receive your card. The company (Andrews Federal Credit Union – anyone can join) I went through to get our card apparently requires a lot of documentation before you receive the card. So I think you should plan on applying for a Chip and Pin card at least a month before your trip. I sent my application in today. We’ll have to see when I finally get the card.