Using my debit card
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Oct 12, 2012 11:11 AM Last Post By: ban_janti_return
Oct 10, 2012 10:56 AM
Using my debit cardNext month I will be leaving for a four month trip backpacking around South America. I went into my bank (Chase) the other day to let them know that I would be using my debit card outside of the country. They told me that more than likely I wouldn't be able to use it in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia or Chile. I'm worried because I'm going to three of these countries in a row and I don't want to have to plan ahead for three different currencies or carry a month and a half worth of money on me at all times. Any advise from anyone who has been there recently? Even better if you also bank with Chase. I do have a credit card that I will be taking also but I was told that the issue is that they're issued by Visa.
Oct 10, 2012 11:46 AM
1If one of the words "maestro" or "cirrus" (there are others, which I can't remember now) is written on your card then it will work in most ATMs there (the ones saying also these words, which is almost always the case).
If not, ask your bank to provide you with one that does, and if they don't want to, well you should consider changing for/opening an account in a real bank… Maestro cards should be included in basic services nowadays.
Edit: As for your credit card, I also have a Visa and I can't remember to have had troubles with it in an ATM there (although I seldom use it, I get better rates and no tax with my debit card)
Oct 10, 2012 12:41 PM
2Visa debit works exactly the same in south america as Visa credit, local system cannot tell the difference and all is process trough visa preauthorisation system
I think you spoke with an idiot in your bank, nothing rare, in fact I think they make a contest of stupidy when you apply for a baking position. Several frustrating times I had to explain morns at many banks in the world (I had account in many European countries, Australia, Canada, US...) their own rules
If you have Visa debit you'll be fine, even maestro would do, but it will not allow online payments, so stick to Visa debit, if Chase for some reason cannot offer you that, show them a middle finger and open an account in Schwab or Capital One, you will also avoid any fees with them (Schwab is best as they even reimburse you for foreign ATM fees)
The only thing that can happen the thing that they'll block the card if you want to use it abroad without letting them know, so you have to call them before the travel
Don't even try to speak with idiots in the branch, it's perfectly possible to use your card, just insist and ask to speak with a manager if some other fool will claim similar nonsense
Oct 10, 2012 2:25 PM
3#3 I think banker was not referring to Point of Sale terminal transaction, but he/she actually claimed that card will not work there at all, including ATMs that is of course utter nonsense.
Regarding the above: it's pretty popular in Peru, Colombia and Ecuador in midrange restaurants and hotels, Bolivia is still fairly cash society, even if card is accepted it usually incurs 3% surcharge, so cash works best here.
I usually have about $200 in local currency on me and $300 in USD as a backup (unless I'm travelling to remote regions of Bolivia where I know there will be no ATM or it's unreliable) and pay with card whenever it's possible and fee free. I find it totally sufficient.
Oct 10, 2012 2:29 PM
4Amex is PITA anywhere besides US, even in Canada is not always accpted . People should definitely stick to 2 previous you've mentioned
Oct 10, 2012 2:44 PM
5In my experience, the cards work, you just have to notify the bank first that you will be traveling. By notifying, I mean calling the 800 number, not talking to some idiot at the bank. (I deal with bank employees a lot through my work, and often they make up some really weird rules that contradict the actual bank's policies.) Chase is a major bank, and I am 100% certain their cards will work in SA. Amex charges a lot higher percentage to merchants than visa or MC, so many choose not to accept it.
Having said this, I have experienced two issues with using US cards overseas.
1. Some ATM's in Europe will not accept a card without a small embedded chip in it, which is not common in the US. If this happens, just try a different bank's ATM. This problem I have experienced only in Europe, and it does happen fairly frequently. Never had this issue in SA.
2. I used to bank with Bank Atlantic in Florida. (It is now merging with another bank.) I found out that they do not allow use of their cards in Turkey - and with no exceptions and in all circumstances. I found out this when I already was in Turkey, and was relying almost exclusively on Bank Atlantic's card. I even went to the US consulate to try to resolve the matter, and they refused. I returned to US and closed my accounts with them. So, some smaller banks might "surprise" you. But again, Chase is a major bank, and their cards should work fine anywhere in the world.
Oct 11, 2012 12:38 PM
6About PITA: the reason some ATMs in Europe do not accept cards without a chip is that these cards are very easy to duplicate and do skimming with it, i.e. put a small camera on the ATM to get the pin, and a small thing on top of the card reader to get the data on the magnetic track of the card; with that they have all the they need to vacuum clean accounts.
Actually, one of the main reason skimming is common is because the use of a chip on cards is not that common in the US, forcing other countries to still accept and use this 20th century technology that are magnetic tracks.
Oct 11, 2012 5:03 PM
7I am not against the chips in cards. However, I live in US, and the cards we get generally come without one. Why, I have no idea, I guess it's a way for banks to cut costs since there is no consumer demand for those chips, or a legal requirement. I believe they don't use chips in South America either.
Oct 11, 2012 5:32 PM
8#10 It's not your responsibility or fault, this is how the market looks like, but it pushes the whole world backwards like #8 pointed out. It's really not cool to wake up 5000 EUR poorer one day specially when travelling and this is exactly what happen to me.
US should be a role model and should adopt better technology, I don't know why either - probably as you said there is no legal requirement and change would cost money, so they prefer to deal with skimming claims, probably someone counted it would be more cost effective. But all the insecurity and inconvenience for the client? They don't care
South America and other countries would follow suit if only US would adopt chip technology like Europe did.
Oct 12, 2012 10:01 AM
9My Colombian ATM card has a chip.
I use "chip and pin" cards all over the continent with no problems. SOme ATMs are not set up for my bank(s), however the chip is not a problem.
In places (like the USA) where the technology is last century's they simply use the magnetic strip.
Oct 12, 2012 11:11 AM
10Most of the world adopted chip technology, even Canada switched.
For everyone security only chip + pin should be accepted, no magnetic + sign nonsense, but we can keep dreaming.
US still uses Fahrenheit system that no one gets and it doesn't look they will switch either...
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