Sunday, June 12, 2011
Chips, Pins, Strips... Charging in Europe
Most Americans travel with credit card that use the swipe method... the black strip on the back of your card stores your information for charging. European credit cards are different.. they use an embedded chip and pin technology which apparently offers much stronger security. In general, American cards can be used in Europe since most machines in shops and restaurants can process both technologies. However, travelers who need to buy a ticket to the Louvre from a machine, or, pay for gas after hours at a machine, or, who want to rent a velib bike in Paris or pay with a card at a market, often find their cards are useless. If you have your heart set on renting one of those cool gray Velib bikes in Paris you can go to velib.paris.fr and buy a one or seven day ticket online. And remember Rail Europe... you can go to raileurope.com and buy European train tickets in advance (generally after 3 months prior to your trip) and pay in USD. Always a good idea to have a back up plan.