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American Credit cards in the UK

Austin, Texas
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American Credit cards in the UK

Has anyone had trouble getting local currency from an ATM with their credit card? I read last night that many machines are only accepting cards with chips these days.

Should I take cash to change at the airport?

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1. Re: American Credit cards in the UK

You don't necessarily need a chip to use ATM's but you will need a four digit PIN number which your bank can give you. They could possibly issue you a new card with a chip but they might be reluctant to do this due to the costs.

Use a VISA or MasterCard debit card for cash advances and credit card for purchases, hotel bills etc. You might experience some problems using a chipless card in shops but the staff just need to whipout and dust down the old manual swipe machine for which you won't need a PIN.

Or, how about a Capital One travel card? Might tick all your boxes.

Redlands, California
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2. Re: American Credit cards in the UK

I have been unable to use my chipless debit card to "top up" my Oyster cardat the machines in tube stations, and I think this may also apply to some other machines. However, this wasn't a reak problem because, as Dicanio says, the clerk at the attended window could handle it. I have NOT had problems at the ATM machines and from the numerous threads this seems to be the norm. They're set up to handle foreign (U.S.) tourists anxious to spend money! However, I usually do take about $200 in twenties "just in case," although I've never had to use it. Its just a security blanket!

Donotify your bank or card issuer in advance that you'll be travelling so they don't find your use "suspicious."

Edited: 24 March 2011, 18:58
Houston, TX
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3. Re: American Credit cards in the UK

If you are using a credit card for purchases, check with your company as to what foreign transaction fee they will apply to each and every purchase. This can be as high as 3% and is in addition to the pounds to dollars conversion and so can mount up quickly. If your card company imposes this fee and if you have time, look into getting a card that does not have this fee attached. CapitalOne Visa is one of them; I believe USAA also offers one.

Destination Expert
for London
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4. Re: American Credit cards in the UK

In addition to transaction fees, credit cards used in ATMs as opposed to debit cards attract interest fees paid from the second you withdraw cash, as you are being given a cash advance (a loan in other words). Avoid. Do not change at the airport either. Try and use a Chip and Pin card in ATM's and credit cards for purchases (shops, restaurants, hotel).

Austin, Texas
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5. Re: American Credit cards in the UK

Thank you. Capital One is what I am using for that very reason. I learned too late that a Capital One Money Market Account with an ATM card is even better. Capital One does charge interest from the day the charge or cash advance is made. For now I am just making sure I have a credit balance for that to be "paid" within days....as soon as it posts.

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6. Re: American Credit cards in the UK

We are currently in the UK with our US bank debit cards and also credit cards. We are able to use our debit cards at ATMs to withdraw cash as long as we have our 4 digit pin.

Unfortunately most (and I really do mean MOST) of the stores here in the UK now will NOT accept cards unless there is a special chip on the card. You can tell if there is a chip by looking on the front of your card to see if there is a metallic square box with a pattern.

The only places we have been that will accept our cards without a chip are:

Marks and Spencer

Boots the Chemist


The hotels have been fine because of course we have already given a card number when booking but PLEASE try and get your banks to give you a card with a chip if you can. Luckily we had one credit card with a chip, but my usual debit cards were worthless at stores. Some say they are prohibited from accepting cards without chips now, some say they cannot swipe cards and others just don't work.

The way of paying in the uk is to put your card into a little box which will register the payment or debit card. However, as mentioned, these will not accept our usual cards.

I just wanted to post this in case anyone is visiting the UK for the Olympics just so you don't get any unpleasant surprises!

Destination Expert
for Israel
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7. Re: American Credit cards in the UK

>>Unfortunately most (and I really do mean MOST) of the stores here in the UK now will NOT accept cards unless there is a special chip on the card.

Not so. I have an Israeli debit card, and Israel hasn't yet moved over to chip-and-pin, although I gather from a friend who renewed her card recently that it's being phased in gradually. I was in England only two weeks ago and had no difficulty whatsoever using my card for purchases. I just told the cashier that it wasn't chip-and-pin and I would have to sign in the "old-fashioned" way. It wasn't a problem anywhere.

Some younger sales assistants might not be familiar with the concept, but if you explain, the worst that can happen is that they will ask for help from a more senior staff member.

space coast, fl
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8. Re: American Credit cards in the UK

You will not have any trouble with a 4 digit pin. The only places I've not been able to use it is some of the tube and train machines. You will even be fine at those stations at the manned booths. There are some smaller shops and restaurants that won't take chipless cards, but that's what cash is for. :-) No worries!

U.S. expats
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for Windsor, London, Dry Tortugas National Park
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9. Re: American Credit cards in the UK

In my own experience, it is a small minority of stores that don't allow a card without chip and pin. Tesco Home Store was one, and cited "store policy."

Really, though, I can count on one hand the number who wouldn't take it.

I have been in pubs where only cash was accepted more than stores where only chip and pin was accepted.

London, United...
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10. Re: American Credit cards in the UK

depending on when you are going some US banks now issue cards with chip/pin. While I have UK bank accounts, I also have US bank accounts and use the Chase British Airways Visa card - issed in the US with a Chip - no currency conversion fees beyond their exchange rate which has generally been reasonable. If you are worried you could apply for that. Also, while the exchange rates aren't as good, you can get a stored value chip-pin card from places like Travelex currency exchange.