Tips for travelling overseas
Travelling overseas soon? Be aware that many places such as New Zealand, China and Europe, including the UK, Ireland, France, and others have recently introduced a chip and pin payment system that utilizes cards embedded with a chip and protected through the use of a personal identification number (PIN).
Some merchants in these countries have mistakenly refused to accept magnetic stripe Visa cards because the cards do not have an embedded chip that can be read at the point of sale.
As with the introduction of any new technology, it may take time for everyone to get used to the new system and some merchants may be unclear as to how to treat cards issued from overseas. Please be assured that merchant terminals are designed to recognize and prompt appropriately, and you should still be able to sign a transaction receipt.
Both Visa and the banks in the countries concerned are working with merchants to minimise any confusion. If a merchant is not willing to swipe the card, the cardholder should request to speak to the supervisor or the store manager and ask them to follow the instructions displayed at the terminal. If they need further assistance, they can call their card issuer or the Visa global cardholder assistance service and the problem will be investigated.
For locations where there is no sales attendant, such as ticketing machines, fuel pumps, and toll roads, and only chip and PIN cards are accepted, try to locate a terminal where an assistant can help make your transaction. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause and are working on ways to make this easier for your overseas travel.
Whether you are using a magnetic stripe or chip card, we strongly recommend that you know your pin before travelling overseas. If you do not know your pin, please contact your financial institution to obtain one.
Understanding your payment options as a traveller is always an important part of preparing for any trip. Along with knowing your rights as a cardholder in terms of card acceptance, we encourage you to:
Remember your PIN for ATM cash access.
In preparation for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Visa and its client banks inChina have installed more than 90,000 ATMs and signed up more than 216,000 merchant locations throughout China to help prepare for the influx of international visitors this year and beyond.
All point-of-sale terminals at merchants onsite at Olympic venues have been set up to accept international Visa chip and PIN cards. Similarly chip terminals have been set up at international merchants in the six Olympic cities.
If you have a chip and PIN card, you will most likely need to use your PIN instead of a signature to authorize payments. Cardholders who do not have chip cards should not be affected by this and can continue to sign when using magnetic stripe or chip with signature cards. If you encounter difficulties, please ask the merchant to swipe your card or ask the merchant to contact his or her bank for instructions. You can also phone your card issuer via the number on the back of your card or Visa Global Customer Assistance for help.
Banks and retailers in the United Kingdom (UK) have enacted a national policy requiring all UK cardholders to use their PINs when making purchases with their chip and PIN debit and credit cards. The requirement is part of an effort in the UK to minimize fraud and is already recognized as making a significant positive impact in this respect.
The new UK policy, however, does not apply to overseas travellers with magnetic stripe cards. All merchants displaying a Visa logo are required to accept any form of Visa payment that is presented to them. In the UK, this means merchants will continue to accept foreign-issued, non-chip and PIN cards as before. Visa is committed to enforcing this policy to helping maintain cardholder trust and confidence in Visa's promise of unsurpassed global acceptance.
As with the introduction of any new technology, it may take time for everyone to get used to the new system and some merchants may be unclear as to how to treat foreign-issued cards or cards without a chip.
Both Visa and the UK banking industry are actively working with merchants to minimise confusion. In the rare instance that a cardholder visiting the UK encounters a problem, they should ask the merchant to insert the card in the terminal and follow the prompts. If the clerk is not willing to swipe the card, the cardholder should request to speak with a store manager. If they need further assistance, they can call their card issuer or the Visa global cardholder assistance service and the problem will be investigated - these numbers are printed on the back of the Visa card.
When travelling inFrance, cardholders should be aware that chip and PIN security measures for payment cards have been adopted in the country.
Visa is aware that some merchants in France have mistakenly refused to accept Visa cards issued by foreign banks because the cards do not carry a chip, or require a signature instead of a PIN for the chip transaction. Visa cardholders can continue to use their chip or magnetic stripe cards while travelling and should still be able to sign a transaction receipt.
Most merchants, restaurants and hotels in France are experienced in accepting both magnetic stripe-only and chip and PIN cards so cardholders should experience no issues in making payments at such merchant locations. In addition, there are approximately 47,000 ATMs across France that accept Visa cards, including Visa Electron and Plus-badged cards.
If you do not have a chip and PIN card, it may be advisable to withdraw some cash from an ATM as certain locations, mainly those without attendants, may require a chip card with a PIN.
For example, cardholders may need to use cash to pay for items such as tickets for the metro or train at unattended kiosks. For automated petrol stations that are chip and PIN enabled, non-chip and PIN Visa cardholders will need to pay the attendants at the kiosks. Additionally, if they are driving on French roads, it should be noted that automated ticket machines at toll booths on toll roads will not accept Visa Electron, although non-chip and PIN cards will be accepted. In those locations, cardholders should seek an attendant. There will be a manned kiosk nearby.
Visa is working with its members and merchants in France to ensure that they understand correct card acceptance procedures. Should international Visa cardholders encounter difficulties, they should insist that the merchant swipe their card or ask the merchant to contact his or her bank for instructions.