Credit Card Tips
Credit cards are accepted widely in most European countries.
Apparently the chips in Australian credit cards are not accepted in France so you may be asked to sign at the cash register.
When we have been asked to sign our signature has never been checked by the operator.
Fuel stations in France seem to have irregular hours particularly on Saturdays and Sundays and around lunch time on week days so you may be forced to refuel at a fully automatic refuelling station (no staff onsite at all).
These automatic service stations will not accept your Australian credit card and do not accept cash so your only way out may be to offer a local person cash in exchange for adding your fuel bill to their card – we had to do that in Marseilles.
What to do before leaving Australia
Before leaving Australia the option we took was to establish fee free and foreign exchange fee free cards such as offered by Bankwest and 28Degrees
We organised 1 each for both of us from the above suppliers – the only problem we have had is that they were all Mastercards, which didn’t seem a problem at the time.
On a couple of occasions we have been surprised that the vendor accepted Visa but not Mastercard – we haven’t struck that before in Australia – so the suggestion would be to get a set of Visa and a set of Mastercard, each.
Another suggestion would be to get a card like a Commonwealth Bank Travel Cash Card which can be pre-loaded with about 13 different currencies including:-
The card caters for Euros (EUR), Great British pounds (GBP) and Australian Dollars (AUD) – the other currencies available won’t be any use in Europe.
One of the problems in Europe is that many countries are still using their own currency and not the Euro including the following:-
Albania – Lek
Bosnia – Mark (BAM) and Euro
Switzerland – Swiss Franc
Czech Republic – Koruna
Denmark – Danish Krone
Great Britain – Pound Sterling
Croatia – Kuna
Hungary – Forint
Norway – Norwegian Krone
Poland – Zloty
Romania – Leu
Sweden – Swedish Krona
So you will need to plan ahead when visiting those countries and either use credit cards exclusively or do some additional currency conversions.
It is always advisable to have some local country cash on hand for emergencies – communication lines can be down and therefore you can’t use credit cards.
Be careful and only use reputable ATMs – we had a credit card skimmed at the German Polish border and had to contact our bank straight away to avoid further problems.