VISA credit cards and London and Paris

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by ravenvii, Jan 29, 2007.

  1. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    I'm going to London, England (and spending two days in Paris) in March for a week.

    I'm thinking about how I'd manage my money over there. Converting my money is a huge hassle, and they always put a fee on top of that.

    So I'm wondering, is VISA credit cards widely accepted in London and Paris, like it is in the United States? Because I am thinking maybe I can avoid the conversion fee and hassles by simply using my credit card everywhere?

    Any thoughts?
  2. devilot Moderator emeritus


    May 1, 2005
    My VISA account still charged me for the conversion rates. *shrug* Still worth it to me just 'cause I don't trust myself with cash. :eek:
  3. Cybix macrumors 6502a


    Feb 10, 2006
    Western Australia
    Yes. VISA is like the most widely accepted card in the world. It works just about anywhere.... VISA will work a treat.

    If you have a regular debit/eftpos card, you can take that too, as most cash machines support eftpos/cirrus. take savings right out of an ATM.

    too easy. Travelling with $10k in your pocket is a thing of the past!
  4. Kwyjibo macrumors 68040


    Nov 5, 2002
    I agree I spent some time in Italy recently and it was much easier to grab 100 euros and just spend it and find the next ATM. Let your ATM and Credit Card companies know that you're traveling so they don't flag transactions. But I recommend carrying your ATM card and using it the most and having the CC as a backup .
  5. miniConvert macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2006
    Kent, UK - the 'Garden of England'.
    Check out commission charges with your card issuer before you travel. Some card companies use a rubbish exchange rate and then charge you a percentage of the total transaction in addition.

    Probably better to find a good rate and get a wad of money exchanged into travellers cheques, then cash them in while you're here. Get some in Sterling and some in Euro, then just put any additional spending on your card.
  6. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
    Cash transactions normally charge a fixed rate as well as about 2.75% foreign exchange, when travelling around Europe (with my Visa card) I have found it cheaper to pay be credit card and have been offered quite a decent rate. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Europe, American Express and Diners club less so, but most places accept them.

    PS I come from the UK so it might be more rubbish for you americans.
  7. Black&Tan macrumors 6502a


    Mar 4, 2004
    Definitely check your rates. When I was in the UK years ago, my Credit Card had the best exchange rates, bar none. Consistently lower than rates in country. And stay away from Thomas Cook. They charge really high rates. As others have said, check with your bank regarding ATM fees and go that route.

    And you will probably want a little spending money before arriving in country, so I would recommend getting a $100 worth of currency from your bank before departing. The rates you get won't be much better than the airport, but at least you'll be able to buy food/beverages and services (bus, taxi, etc.) when you arrive.
  8. Black&Tan macrumors 6502a


    Mar 4, 2004
    When I was in France, I had to go to a bank to trade in my Travellers Checks because the local merchants wouldn't accept them. Thank goodness we were with a friend who had an account at the bank, because the bank didn't want to accept them either! So I would stay away from Travellers Checks personally.
  9. iGav macrumors G3

    Mar 9, 2002
    Getting AMEX cards accepted can be a right pain in the arse, even in London.
  10. iBlue macrumors Core


    Mar 17, 2005
    London, England
    Along with all the other helpful replies:

    Make sure (before you go, obviously) that your bank will let you withdraw from an overseas ATM if you want to withdraw cash that way. They'll charge you a fee no matter how you slice it but you want to make sure it will just work. Even Bank of America, as huge as it is, can make this a hassle. Jerks. Visa is accepted almost everywhere but sometimes you get stuck when their card readers only work with the UK "chip and pin" thing. You'll end up wanting cash more than you think, I suspect.
  11. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    Travellers checks are being a thing of the past. There just is not a real reason to carrier them in this day of age. They where great before the plastic revolution but in this day of age CC, check cards and debit cards are cover pretty much anything a TC would be used for with the same level of protection if not more. Plus they are more widely accepted. More places tend to take credit cards than Travels check any how and when you do need cash we have ATMs for that now.

    I do not think my parents have used travelers checks in over 7 years and that was because they where giving them to me for a trip I was going on back in HS and it was before I got any form of plastic. And before that I want to say maybe 7 years before. TC have been dieing off for the past 14 years.
  12. Queso Suspended

    Mar 4, 2006
    In both France and the UK VISA and MasterCard are the most widespread ones. AmEx is accepted at hotels and some restaurants, and Diner's Club is pretty much only ever useful for buying petrol.

    If your ATM card has the Cirrus symbol on it (shown below), it will work in any cashpoint displaying the Maestro symbol (also shown below), which is pretty much the same thing (both run by MasterCard). There was a big campaign against ATM charges in the UK a couple of years ago and UK banks no longer charge you to use their machines if you don't have an account with them, but stay clear of machines in places like hotel lobbies, pubs and bookmakers. They always end up charging you a commission fee. Unfortunately in France you will still get charged for ATM use.

  13. Lau Guest

    I've found it useful on trips to Europe and the US to take a credit card for larger purchases (and emergency cash) and cash for day to day stuff.

    For instance, when I went to New York, I knew I'd be buying a few clothes and shoes and the like as the exchange rate was so fab. :D So I took a certain amount of dollars per day for food and sightseeing and buying little things, and then used the credit card for things like clothes and shoes, and it ended up working well. Not least because a Manhattan Portage bag never showed up on my credit card statement. :p

    Hope that's helpful.
  14. redmeister macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2007
    yea i used my mastercard all over europe in the larger cities and turned out great... much easier in most cases so you should be fine with visa. as long as it is not some tiny shop in the middle of nowhere you should be good.
  15. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030


    May 18, 2004
    oh for the good old days of just a few years ago'll be able to use your credit cards but these days most banks in the USA are going to charge you a foreign currency conversion fee. And worse, many of them charge either a percentage of the transaction or a minimum fee, whichever is larger. If you make a lot of smaller charges, say for lunches, you'll end paying fees that amount to a significant percentage of the bill.

    there are still a few banks that don't charge these fees so check with your bank
  16. joepunk macrumors 68030


    Aug 5, 2004
    a profane existence
    When my father and I were in the Yucatan Peninsula we didn't have enough cash on hand for taxi ride to our next destination. So, a hotel worker took us to Mérida for an ATM. My ATM card did not seem to work at all. We were very frustrated. Finally we decided to take the buses to our next destination. Much cheaper and so much more fun but took much longer than it would have with a car.

    To make a long story short, I had forgotten that my money was in a Market Rate Savings and not checking, etc :eek:
  17. northy124 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2007
    Dude this is a year old.
  18. arkitect macrumors 603


    Sep 5, 2005
    Bath, United Kingdom
    Don't blame him. ;)

    The SPAM post that resurrected this thread was removed by the mods.

  19. Queso Suspended

    Mar 4, 2006
    I'm just amazed I was so helpful back then, rather than the complete arse I've turned into :D
  20. joepunk macrumors 68030


    Aug 5, 2004
    a profane existence
    Thanks a bunch for pointing that out Dude. ;)
  21. OutThere macrumors 603


    Dec 19, 2002
    Caution to Americans reading this thread: France isn't like America where you can pay for absolutely everything on plastic. In the states I don't carry cash, but in France many places still only take cash, or they only take credit cards with smart-chips in them, aka not American credit cards. You can pay with a standard American swipe card in a lot of places, but going all-plastic isn't feasible. Keep an ATM account handy.
  22. neiltc13 macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
    In my experience there isn't THAT much to do in London. Once you've seen Parliament, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and Downing Street you're pretty much done for the main tourist sights.

    Did you consider visiting any of the other cities in the United Kingdom? (that's what the country is called, it's not England to anyone except legislators who need to distinguish between separate areas of the nation)

    Places like Edinburgh and Liverpool are vastly different to London and should give you a better flavour of the country than London.

    And as the poster above says - if your card doesn't have a chip then you will find it is not accepted in many places in the UK.

    And yeah I fell right into the year old trap. Oh well, my advice still stands for any Americans visiting this country!
  23. northy124 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2007
    Agreed, I personally haven't seen very many (5+) places that will accept Plastic, you need mostly cash to pay for things, I think most of Europe is like this as well. Also in my experiance in the UK unless you have Chip and Pin you can't pay by card.

    So what about the muesums and Harrods, Lester(?) Square, the changing of the guard etc etc...I guess you haven't done very much when you have been then LoL
  24. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030


    May 18, 2004
    From recent experience I know that in the UK there are still plenty of hotels, restaurants and shops that will take american cards that aren't set up for chip & pin. But a tourist is much better off paying in cash because many American banks charge a foreign currency exchange fee on every transaction. You end up adding $3 to $5 for each transaction just to use your card.
  25. Queso Suspended

    Mar 4, 2006
    Leicester :)

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