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Travel tips: Credit cards, ATMs etc for Americans

When you go on vacation, you don’t want to have to worry about logistics, that’s why you hire us! We can help you take care of all these issues but here are some pointers to make sure your credit card or ATM experiences won’t be a hassle!

Let's start with these tips in order to prepare for your French journey...

  1. Make sure your card is updated to have the micro-chip in it. It used to be that American cards used the magnetic swipe system and European cards had the micro-chip. Now almost all American cards have this micro-chip system and paying with your card in France is so much easier now!

  1. With this micro-chip card, you will probably be assigned a PIN. Make sure to memorize this PIN as you may be asked for it, depending on the credit card reader.

  2. It may be useful to have multiple cards to use. A credit card, a bank card, and especially if you have AMEX or Discover, not all credit cards machines are equipped to read these cards. Visa and Mastercard are your best bet!

  3. The French system doesn’t use a signature to validate the credit card slip, so don’t be surprised if they don’t ask you for it… You can always insist on signing the receipt if you feel more comfortable.

  4. Make sure to tell your bank and your credit card company that you will be using your card overseas, this way you won’t have your card blocked.

  5. I recommend getting Euros out of the ATM when you arrive here in France. If you ask your American bank, they will give you a horrible exchange rate and maybe even add on some extra fees. Once you arrive at the airport, there will be plenty of ATMs available for you to get some cash.

  6. In the past couple of years France has gotten better about accepting card payments no matter the transaction amount. However, some stores will have a minimum purchase in order to use a card, so having cash and coins on you can come in handy!

  7. If the ATM or the credit card machine asks you if you want to pay in US$ versus Euros€ (they give you a conversion rate), I suggest choosing the payment in Euros as your bank will give you a better exchange rate than the credit card machine.

  8. When choosing an ATM, try to find one that is part of a bank (Look for « Banque » or « Crédit » in the name) and not a private company. The bank ATMs give better rates, and less extra fees, than the private ATMs. This is mostly an issue when you are at a train station or an airport. Walking around French cities/villages, most will only have bank ATMs.

  9. Here in the Luberon, not all villages have an ATM nor bank in the village. If you want to get cash out, please let me know and we will find one for you!

I hope this helps to avoid any issues, all that's left to do now is to enjoy your time here in Provence! !

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