Germany

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catsartcox
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Germany

Postby catsartcox » Tue Jul 08, 2014 7:15 pm

So there is a good chance I will be going to Germany for 2 and half months for a study abroad thing next summer. I understand, as it stands all my cards have foreign transaction fees.

So i am wondering what is the best way to go about this? Weather it be upgrading my Citi or Amex or applying for a new card? Is so which one?

Also, if anyone has any advice on using a iPhone over in Germany that would be cool. I was wondering if I could just go to a provider over the and just pay for service for 3 months since I have my own device.


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djrez4
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Postby djrez4 » Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:28 pm

Re: cards - you need chip and pin over there. I don't think any of your cards offer it. The Barclay Arrival does. Some others do as well.

Re: phone - call your provider and tell them you will be traveling internationally and need to unlock your phone. Buy a SIM when you get there. Plenty of options in Germany.
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mdl28
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Postby mdl28 » Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:46 pm

djrez4 wrote:Re: cards - you need chip and pin over there. I don't think any of your cards offer it. The Barclay Arrival does. Some others do as well.

Re: phone - call your provider and tell them you will be traveling internationally and need to unlock your phone. Buy a SIM when you get there. Plenty of options in Germany.


Your Amex PRG, and Citi cards do offer chips. Just call them and have those issuers send out the new cards.
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Postby attrapereves » Wed Jul 09, 2014 12:06 am

I know it sucks, but I would recommend just using Euros. I lived in France for a year and used none of my American credit cards. I withdrew money at the ATM with no fee using Bank of America.

You most likely won't find many places in Europe that accept AMEX. Visa and Maestro/MasterCard are the most widely used.

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Postby beef.stu » Wed Jul 09, 2014 4:30 am

I also recommend using euros. And if in a pinch you could use your debit card in most cases for unmanned kiosks or gas pumps. Plus part of the fun of traveling is handling foreign currency :oooo

Last year I opened up a charles schwab checking account just for the no atm fees worldwide and I have really enjoyed their customer service
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rockyrock
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Postby rockyrock » Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:37 am

If you have no interest in earning CB, miles or points then Euros is the way to go. Personally I think that strategy is no bueno. Your life will be ten times easier with a Visa/MC Chip & PIN card.

There are plenty of cards these days that have no FTFs. Many like the CSP and MP Explorer also wave the first years AF so even more incentive.

It's always a good idea to keep some cash on you but I feel safer with cards as--unlike cash, they can be easily replaced if something happens. If you can swing it, two cards is a good strategy; one to carry and one to keep in reserve.

I do agree that you won't get much use out of an Amex there. Start digging around and find a V or MC that offers no FTF and C&PIN. With that combo you will be on easy street.

Of course YMMV.

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kcm7
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Postby kcm7 » Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:47 am

I spend a lot of time in Germany (and have family there). You're going to have a BLAST.

I almost never use my cards (credit or debit) over there. Daily transactions (shopping, dining out) are still very much cash-based over there. Some restaurants will accept cards, but mom-and-pop places prefer cash and will reject your card, especially if they know you're not German. I speak German, so, if I'm short on cash and really want to use plastic, I'll usually say "I just saw you accept a card from that customer over there. I'm short on cash, so I'd appreciate it if you could accept mine," and that usually does the trick, but some will just not accept US-issued cards, period. When I travel around, I use hostels. The small ones won't even look at your credit cards, but the larger ones (which cater to foreigners) usually do -- but for a 5% fee. If hotels and hostels DO take your card, you will likely NOT need an EMV card. At least I never do. They all have swipe machines that read my magnetic stripe just fine.

With unmanned transit terminals, if you want to use a card, you'll need EMV, but, last summer, the terminal would NOT accept my Citi AAdvantage with a chip (I suspect it's because those cards are chip-and-signature). Many of those machines accept cash, but coins only. If you don't have coins, I'd walk over to the nearest hostel. In major cities, many of them will sell you whichever visitor pass the city offers, which includes a certain number of days for the local transit.

tl;dr: Cash is the way to go. I usually make a stop at the Geldautomat (ATM) that partners with my bank (so no ATM fees) and withdraw however much money I figure I'll need for the day. If you're using your card at a major hotel or hostel that takes American cards, you probably won't need EMV anyway -- they'll likely have a swipe machine.
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djrez4
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Postby djrez4 » Wed Jul 09, 2014 12:04 pm

mdl28 wrote:Your Amex PRG, and Citi cards do offer chips. Just call them and have those issuers send out the new cards.


They offer chip-signature. You can't use them at unmanned kiosks like tram stations or gas stations.

Most places that accept cards - restaurants, stores - can still swipe. But, if you want to buy gas or ride the tram, you need cash or a chip-PIN card.
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Postby thom02099 » Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:42 pm

If you are looking for cards with Chip & PIN, there's a limit on the cards that provide that. IIRC, the Barclays Arrival + has it, and the 2 new Wells Fargo Propel cards have it. If that's important to you, consider those cards, for usage at those unattended kiosks that you may encounter.
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attrapereves
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Postby attrapereves » Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:01 pm

Just like what kcm7 said, I too mostly used cash when in France. Most mom & pop places prefer cash. When I would go to the bakery, it's easier to give them a couple Euro for bread. If you go to larger, corporate owned grocery stores, they will accept most any credit card, but there is no guarantee it will work.

I would generally withdraw Euros weekly, enough to last the entire week for groceries, transportation, etc. I had no bills except for rent and I paid cash to buy recharge cards for my cell phone.

I kept some emergency US dollars in my apartment just in case. Banks can convert them. They really helped when ATM workers went on strike for a week or two. Most ATMs were out of cash.



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