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US Credit Cards in UK

US Credit Cards in UK

Old Dec 25th 2007, 9:45 pm
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Default US Credit Cards in UK

Many years ago, I could travel to UK and use my US-issued Visa or Mastercard Credit Cards without incident.

BUT these days, my mum says that all credit card takers have a machine that requires a 'chip' in the card; further, they require PINs instead of signatures.

So I'm wondering, how do they deal with US tourists - a huge source of revenue - are they turning away US tourists because they don't have a modern card with an embedded 'chip' and a corresponding PIN?

Do I need to request a special card from my US-issuer in order to use it in UK? This seems to fly in the face of the very concept of a universally accepted card. Googling around, I found these links: http://www.upgradetravelbetter.com/2...mandatory-pin/

http://www.visaeurope.com/merchant/c...kretailers.jsp

I've given my mum a US credit card so she can buy stuff over there and have me pay for it, but she's now running into problems with that card.

Just wondered what the overall experience of travellers has been.
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Old Dec 25th 2007, 9:49 pm
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Default Re: US Credit Cards in UK

Originally Posted by Steerpike View Post
Many years ago, I could travel to UK and use my US-issued Visa or Mastercard Credit Cards without incident.

BUT these days, my mum says that all credit card takers have a machine that requires a 'chip' in the card; further, they require PINs instead of signatures.

So I'm wondering, how do they deal with US tourists - a huge source of revenue - are they turning away US tourists because they don't have a modern card with an embedded 'chip' and a corresponding PIN?

Do I need to request a special card from my US-issuer in order to use it in UK? This seems to fly in the face of the very concept of a universally accepted card. Googling around, I found these links: http://www.upgradetravelbetter.com/2...mandatory-pin/

http://www.visaeurope.com/merchant/c...kretailers.jsp

I've given my mum a US credit card so she can buy stuff over there and have me pay for it, but she's now running into problems with that card.

Just wondered what the overall experience of travellers has been.
The PIN requirement does not apply to foreign cards.

It is a good idea to tell your CC issuer when you are going to be abroad - otherwise there is a risk of transactions being refused because they are outside your normal purchasing pattern.
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Old Dec 25th 2007, 10:03 pm
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Default Re: US Credit Cards in UK

Originally Posted by Elvira View Post
The PIN requirement does not apply to foreign cards.

It is a good idea to tell your CC issuer when you are going to be abroad - otherwise there is a risk of transactions being refused because they are outside your normal purchasing pattern.
Yeah, we did that already - pre-warned them, and she's used it in one or two places already, without rejection. BUT - she's running into 'ignorance' I think - many places are staffed by kids who are poorly trained; they only know about the chip/pin cards, and have told her she can't use the card because it doesn't have a 'chip'.

In once place, they referred her to the store manager, who scratched her head and pulled out an 'older' swipe-type machine, and let her sign for the purchase. But in other stores, they just say, "our machine doesn't take that type of card." I told her to take her friends out for a fancy dinner for Christmas, charging it to my/our card; but she has called ahead to several restaurants and asked if she can use a non-chip card, and they have said no.

Now, my mum lives in the North West ... not a tourist destination - so they probably don't get much exposure to 'foreign' cards. It's probably a different ball-game in London, etc.

Reading the second link I posted above, it says
"Cards with a magnetic stripe, but no chip and PIN facility, are still valid and can be used in all card terminals. The machine will recognise that a signature is needed and a prompt will appear to inform the till operator of this.

According to Visa Europe: “The UK will see a record number of tourists this year, but retailers can only reap the benefits by knowing how to accept foreign non-chip and PIN enabled cards. It is vital that retail outlets make sure that their staff know how to use them correctly as rejecting a foreign card out of hand will damage the UK’s reputation as a tourist destination and negatively impact on the retailer’s bottom line. "
This is a bummer because getting a second card issued in her name has always been a good 'safety net' for my mum - I tell her to use it whenever she needs it (she's not well off, and tends to skimp on purchases, so this was always an easy way to get her to spend money!).
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Old Dec 25th 2007, 10:29 pm
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Default Re: US Credit Cards in UK

Never had a problem with non chip/pin cards anywhere in the EU, including a business trip to the UK last month. Just tell them bad luck, no chip, they hit a button on the machine and it spits out a slip for you to sign.

Also I doubt that US cards are a huge "source of revenue" as the OP suggests, especially with the $ to pound and manic BAA one bag rules, the UK is very low in most US travellers lists....

- Tim
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Old Dec 25th 2007, 10:51 pm
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Default Re: US Credit Cards in UK

Originally Posted by TimFountain View Post
Never had a problem with non chip/pin cards anywhere in the EU, including a business trip to the UK last month. Just tell them bad luck, no chip, they hit a button on the machine and it spits out a slip for you to sign.

Also I doubt that US cards are a huge "source of revenue" as the OP suggests, especially with the $ to pound and manic BAA one bag rules, the UK is very low in most US travellers lists....

- Tim
According to this page: http://www.forbestraveler.com/best-l...sit-story.html

"... nearly 63.7 million U.S. residents traveled internationally in 2006, and “overseas” destinations (i.e., excluding Canada and Mexico) received more than 30 million U.S. travelers in 2006, a 5% increase compared with 2005. "

So 30 Million US travelers went overseas. Reading further, the #1 dest. is Mexico; #2 is Canada; #3 is UK.

"UK - 3,286,000 travelers

Even with a 14% decline compared to 2005, the U.K. remains the top overseas destination for U.S. travelers. Ten years ago, the U.K. also ranked third, but with 3.57 million visitors—nearly 8% more than 2006. The British government reports nearly inverse figures, with a 13% increase of American travel to the U.K. in 2006. By either measure Americans constitute the lion’s share of the kingdom’s visitors. “The U.S. is our biggest and most important market by far,” said Visit Britain’s Simon Bradley."
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Old Dec 25th 2007, 10:55 pm
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Default Re: US Credit Cards in UK

Originally Posted by Steerpike View Post
According to this page: http://www.forbestraveler.com/best-l...sit-story.html

"... nearly 63.7 million U.S. residents traveled internationally in 2006, and “overseas” destinations (i.e., excluding Canada and Mexico) received more than 30 million U.S. travelers in 2006,
in 2006 it wasn't $2 to the quid though.
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Old Dec 26th 2007, 12:43 am
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Default Re: US Credit Cards in UK

Just got back from the UK a couple of days ago, I did run into a couple of problems with my US card in rural areas - misinformed staff to be sure, but chip and pin has now well and truly taken hold in the UK. In normal tourist visited areas and major cities I don't think it'll ever be a problem, but off the beaten track it can be.

They say things like "I'll just run it this time, but we're not supposed to do it anymore" - I imagine this'll get worse as time passes.
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Old Dec 26th 2007, 4:14 am
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Default Re: US Credit Cards in UK

Originally Posted by Manc View Post
in 2006 it wasn't $2 to the quid though.
True. But I don't think that makes a huge difference. in 2006, it averaged around 1.8. In 2005, also 1.8. Historically (http://www.forecasts.org/data/data/EXUSUK.htm), it used to be above 2 for a long time. 1971, 2.4; 1980, 2.3; It's only since the mid-80s that it's been closer to 1 to 1 (Feb 1985 - 1.0).

Americans love visiting UK because they don't have to learn another language, and they feel a sense of belonging due to ancestry.

But back to the subject at hand, my mum is 80 years old, and she's not very comfortable with credit cards in the first place, so when some dim-witted store person says 'sorry, we can't take it', she says 'ok' and leaves. Remember, this is Lancashire ... they probably haven't seen a US credit card since I was there last in 2004
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Old Dec 26th 2007, 4:52 am
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Default Re: US Credit Cards in UK

Should be no issue and if your Mum has hassle report the merchant to Visa.
Glad I kept my Uk bank account though so in Jan I will just use my UK card.
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Old Dec 26th 2007, 10:50 am
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Default Re: US Credit Cards in UK

I've been in the UK for almost a week now without any problems using my non-chip Visa/Debit card. As stated earlier by someone else, I did run into one young checker who wasn't sure how to process my card. I just told him to run it as a regular Visa and have me sign for it. After confirming with his co-worker, that's what he did and there were no problems.

I've never had a problem with my card in all my visits since 2003. I do however, get a few puzzled looks when the cashier might look at the back of my card to check my signature. On the back of the card, I have written, "please check ID". I often get comments on that, but not bad comments, just more curious ones. When they do ask for ID, I just whip out my California Driver's License or my passport, whichever is more handy.
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Old Dec 26th 2007, 1:29 pm
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Default Re: US Credit Cards in UK

I am back in the UK quite a lot and have never had any problems - if you get any issues just stand your ground - all the POS systems have the ability to swipe the card as has already been said its shop keeper ignorance that is the problem! I do get some curious looks occasionaly as it requests a signature but i have an obviously British accent!
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Old Jan 2nd 2008, 11:51 am
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Default Re: US Credit Cards in UK

Originally Posted by Steerpike View Post
I told her to take her friends out for a fancy dinner for Christmas, charging it to my/our card; but she has called ahead to several restaurants and asked if she can use a non-chip card, and they have said no.
In a case like that, I would just show up at the restaurant and eat the meal, and then see if they couldn't find a way to take payment from your card! I can understand that it might worry your mum, though.

According to the Chip and Pin people, retailers should still accept signatures from certain groups, including overseas cardholders:

http://www.chipandpin.co.uk/reflib/r...own_begins.pdf
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Old Jan 2nd 2008, 11:52 pm
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Default Re: US Credit Cards in UK

A related question - are you allowed to keep using a UK Credit Card for as long as you want after emigrating? I am still using my Natwest Mastercard, will they contact me at some point and say I have to cancel it if I'm no longer resident in the UK? Or are they happy as long as it's paid each month?
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Old Jan 3rd 2008, 1:26 am
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Default Re: US Credit Cards in UK

Originally Posted by polar_bear View Post
A related question - are you allowed to keep using a UK Credit Card for as long as you want after emigrating? I am still using my Natwest Mastercard, will they contact me at some point and say I have to cancel it if I'm no longer resident in the UK? Or are they happy as long as it's paid each month?
No. Mine has been renewed recently and I have been here over 5 years. I only use it when I go back on holiday................. or to pay my Private Eye dues.
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Old Jan 3rd 2008, 2:02 am
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Default Re: US Credit Cards in UK

Originally Posted by tony126 View Post
No. Mine has been renewed recently and I have been here over 5 years. I only use it when I go back on holiday................. or to pay my Private Eye dues.
I have 3 UK CCs and they seem to be happy as long as I pay them...
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