One of my favorite places to travel in the world is Europe—especially in the summer. And this summer should be an amazing time for Americans because it’s never been cheaper. Thanks largely to Norwegian Air Shuttle, flights to Europe are cheap, and the dollar has been strengthening at a rapid rate. Have you seen the current exchange rates? My eyes almost popped out of my head when I looked today and saw €1.00 EUR = $1.06 USD (here’s the up-to-the-minute rate at XE.com). Predictions are saying that the Euro will be even with the dollar by this summer, but compared to what it’s been, I’ll happily take this rate for now.
If you do (and I really hope you do) go to Europe this year, make sure you have a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign exchange fees and that it has a chip with pin capability. Why?
Don’t get charged extra
Many credit cards charge up to 3% for foreign purchases so you definitely don’t want to use a card that charges foreign exchange rates.
Don’t get stuck is a tough spot
You want a card that has a chip with pin capability since it makes traveling to Europe (and other foreign destinations) so much easier. For example, most international automated ticket machines require credit/debit cards to have a chip (also referred as EMV—Europay, MasterCard and Visa). It’s a technical standard designed to ensure that microchip-embedded payment cards all work with the terminals of merchants who accept them.
The impetus behind the chip with pin capability is fraud reduction (if someone finds or steals your card they can’t use it unless they know your secret four-digit pin). With all of the credit card fraud in the world I’m surprised the US has taken so long to adopt it, but I’m happy that banks are slowly making the switch.
Having a credit card that requires a signature, as I used to have, made traveling more difficult for my friends and I. For example, I once couldn’t buy a train ticket in Denmark (and Germany, France, Italy…) using the ticket machine because my credit card didn’t have a chip. So, I had to stand in a long line to have the teller swipe my card and because of the time it took to do that, I almost missed my train. Another time in Monaco, the ticket office was closed so if Natalie hadn’t had her Canadian credit card with a chip we would have been screwed.
My tip for Europe this summer
That’s why I always travel with at least one credit card that has an EMV chip and doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. My top one and many savvy travelers’ favorite is the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®. See Rates & Fees here for more information on the Arrival Plus.
It’s offering a sign-up bonus to new and qualified customers (US residents only) of 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days—typically enough to redeem for a $600 travel statement credit.
Hope to see you in Europe!
If you have the chase saphire card that is chip and signature (but does not use a 4 digit pin) does the chip still help or will you have to wait in line? I have 2 cards with chips (citibank and chase) but neither have a pin, only signature capability.