We just returned and these were two topics I asked some questions on and was concerned about before we left. I think it can be helpful if people report back on what the reality was when they were in Spain. On the pickpocketing...we took more precautions that usual in terms of what we carried with us each day and one of us did wear a money belt...again only copy of passport, one credit card and cash. We had no incidents and for the most part felt comfortable. I always had my fairly good size camera in my hands and again no problems. Areas where I did not feel real comfortable were Placa Catalunya, metro (very limited use) and of course La Rambla which we only traversed when necessary. I did see many tourists so careless with their bags, men with wallets literally hanging out so clearly it is a pickpocket paradise. Use good sense and it will probably be fine. I feel good walking and exploring and in advance I was thinking I would not.
Also I was concerned that places would not take my Visa card as it does not have the "chip" which is widely used in Europe. Again no problem...never at any kind of store. I will say most do not want AX so make sure you have Visa or Master if you want to use credit card. They do always ask Euro or USD. I am no international banking wiz but my Visa card is not charged conversion fees...if you do pay those maybe USD better? And it all depends on rate when you do the transaction which is luck of the draw! I do believe only spot where you could have the "chip" problem is in automatic ticket kiosks which we did not use.
Hope this helps future travelers who worry alot in advance as I did. Just go and enjoy.