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Old 09.06.2011, 15:17
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US credit cards in Switzerland

Each year, as summer approaches, we read horror stories about US credit cards, with their old magnetic strip technology, not being accepted in Europe. Just this morning I read this: How to Avoid Credit Card Problems Abroad.

Last summer I had precisely zero such problems; my card was accepted at all sorts of shops and by the train ticket machines. Has anything changed since?

I am asking out of curiosity, and to help other US tourists, since I have a PostFinance card as backup.
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Old 09.06.2011, 15:38
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

I've read the same thing about problems with US cards, but no one visiting us has ever had a single problem so long as it was a credit card that was accepted (for example american express is not widely accepted and I don't know that discover is accepted anywhere). I had more issues visiting Canada with a USA card than people have had here with USA cards.
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Old 09.06.2011, 15:44
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

Most places I've seen with card readers have both the ability to read the chip or be swiped (magnetic strip). Cards with chips do require a pin code to complete the transaction.
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Old 09.06.2011, 16:08
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

We had trouble in the train stations in Zurich and Fribourg with our CapitalOne Visa. We never set up a PIN for cash withdrawals because we wouldn't use ourcredit cards to get cash. When we went to use the train ticket machines, weneeded to enter a PIN. We ended up using our Bank of America debit card, butwere hit with additional transaction fees.
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Old 09.06.2011, 16:24
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

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We never set up a PIN for cash withdrawals because we wouldn't use our credit cards to get cash.
I had that problem a few years ago, immediately got a PIN when back home, lived happily ever after
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Old 09.06.2011, 16:28
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

The problem that my Wife and I have had (several times) with Wells Fargo and Bank of America cards is refusing purchases made in Europe. It seems that their "fraud" algorithms get set off by foreign purchases. It can be a real pain, then, to make an international call to fix the situation. They say you must notify them in advance that you are traveling, but that is a bit ridiculous IMO.

fduvall
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Old 09.06.2011, 16:28
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

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I had that problem a few years ago, immediately got a PIN when back home, lived happily ever after
The last time I visited in March I used my US Mastercard Debit Card at a train station in Wipkingen and in Zurich at a restaurant. I had no problems except for the terrible exchange rate which I was given for the USD/CHF conversion.
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Old 09.06.2011, 16:30
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

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The problem that my Wife and I have had (several times) with Wells Fargo and Bank of America cards is refusing purchases made in Europe. It seems that their "fraud" algorithms get set off by foreign purchases. It can be a real pain, then, to make an international call to fix the situation. They say you must notify them in advance that you are traveling, but that is a bit ridiculous IMO.

fduvall
Wells Fargo has been fine to us. And you can call them for free anywhere...
https://www.wellsfargo.com/per/int_access_codes
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Old 09.06.2011, 16:49
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

Was there in April used an Amex and Visa card everywhere without a problem. US cards don't have the pin capability. I take that back, I had a problem using it to buy a train ticket from the machines at the station, I had to go to the window (though most US tourists probably aren't using the machines anyway)
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:07
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

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Was there in April used an Amex and Visa card everywhere without a problem. US cards don't have the pin capability. I take that back, I had a problem using it to buy a train ticket from the machines at the station, I had to go to the window (though most US tourists probably aren't using the machines anyway)
Many US cards have an optional PIN capability ... you must request the PIN. I believe that a PIN is needed in Switzerland whenever there is no slip to sign, like ticket machines. I believe, but am not completely sure, that they were the only place where I needed the PIN.
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:20
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

Not technically Switzerland, but if you're prone to nipping over the border to fill up on diesel in France, the automated pumps normally refuse to accept any card that isn't French, regardless of whether it has a chip or not.
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:46
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

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Many US cards have an optional PIN capability ... you must request the PIN. I believe that a PIN is needed in Switzerland whenever there is no slip to sign, like ticket machines. I believe, but am not completely sure, that they were the only place where I needed the PIN.

But is it a different credit card? I think the technology is different.
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Old 09.06.2011, 18:12
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

The technology is different, but the CFF ticket machines accept the PIN I give them. They probably use the same technology as US machines which ask for a PIN before giving cash.
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Old 09.06.2011, 19:11
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

There is only one problem: the $ is hovering around .83 CHF :'( whereas last year it was around 1.18 CHF this time.

Sidenote: if you rent a car and go out of CH, you won't be able to use your cc unless it has the chip if you want to fill up gas after hours.
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Old 14.04.2013, 01:58
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

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Each year, as summer approaches, we read horror stories about US credit cards, with their old magnetic strip technology, not being accepted in Europe.

...

I am asking out of curiosity, and to help other US tourists, since I have a PostFinance card as backup.
Thanks to FATCA I no longer have a PostFinace card so I ask: Has there been any move away from accepting good old magnetic strip cards in Switzerland?

I do not drive in Switzerland, so I am not worried about across the border gas stations.
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Old 14.04.2013, 08:12
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

all EFTs will process chip and strip and some now do NFC.
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Old 14.04.2013, 08:56
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

I have had similar problems but intimating your bank / Credit Card company about your travel destinations definitely helps.

I called AMEX and they were able to fix this immediately and requested me to keep them posted when I travel abroad. This is mainly to avoid fraudulent transactions.

Hope this helps
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Old 10.02.2015, 12:02
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

Sorry for bumping an old thread

My cousin's U.S. credit card company is asking her to update her income online (required by federal regulations). She doesn't live in the States. She did all her studies there but she is neither a U.S. citizen nor a resident alien (she isn't a Green Card holder). She still has a U.S. address though as her parents own a house there.

She is a Swiss and Swedish citizen and lives and works in CH (she is a tenant).

They are asking her for:

- Total Annual Gross Income: $ _______
- Housing Type: [] Own [] Rent [] Board [] Parents [] Dorm [] Other
- Monthly Housing Payment: $ _______

How should she fill this out? No documents need to be sent

Thanks!
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Old 10.02.2015, 12:12
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

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...

- Total Annual Gross Income: $ _______
- Housing Type: [] Own [] Rent [] Board [] Parents [] Dorm [] Other
- Monthly Housing Payment: $ _______

How should she fill this out? No documents need to be sent
Is this for some sort of credit limit increase? I've had U.S. credit cards for over 20 years and never been asked to re-verify my income information. I'm a citizen but still...

I'd just give them the same or very similar info to what I did when I lived there. They won't understand Swiss salaries or rent amounts anyway.
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Old 10.02.2015, 12:22
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Re: US credit cards in Switzerland

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Is this for some sort of credit limit increase? I've had U.S. credit cards for over 20 years and never been asked to re-verify my income information. I'm a citizen but still...
I too have never heard of such a thing. My wife, who is also a non-greencard holding/non-resident, has not ever been asked such a question.

Does sound like a credit increase request though. Does she want to keep the card? Does not seem fruitful if its a USD denominated card and lives here.
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