American payment cards run into trouble overseas
Aside from having different cultures, it appears the United States and Europe have different preferred methods of electronic payments as well, reports the New York Times. Accordingly, a large number of American tourists reported having trouble using their debit and credit cards while traveling abroad.
The culprit is likely the use of different payment card formats between the two regions, states the news source. In Europe, payment cards utilizing near-field communications technology are far more common than in the United States, in which the older magnetic strip technology is still the preferred mode of electronic financial data transfer.
The media outlet reports several user testimonials in which American tourist were almost completely unable to use their payment cards in foreign countries.
"I must have tried five machines and three credit cards," said Amin Nosrat, an American who recently traveled to Vienna, Austria. "Amazingly (and I don’t know why), one finally worked.”
Until near-field communications and RFID chips become more common with U.S. payment cards, there are several ways in which travelers can avoid feeling embarrassed at the check-out counter, reported the New York Times. Tourists are encouraged to carry cash whenever possible and politely ask foreign retailers to swipe the magnetic strip on their debit cards through the machine. Accordingly, most payment card processing units worldwide have this capability, the only issue is the use of magnetic strips is rare enough in some countries that local retailers simply do not know how the system works.
Furthermore, the news source claims retailers using specific bank cards, such as Visa, are obligated to accept card payments even if the information cannot be read by the payment card's magnetic strip. Instead, vendors need to punch in the card's serial number and verify its expiration date. If this is done, the financial transaction should go off without a hitch.
One prominent American bank currently testing out this technology is U.S. Bank, according to the Consumerist. The financial institution will introduce payment cards bundled with various technologies in an effort to allow users to access all forms of payment methods.
The near-field communications methods embedded in the cards architecture are an EMV chip and an RFID chip. Also, the bank cards will reportedly feature magnetic strips as well, states the news source.