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Using (maestro) in the US *added a VISA question*

The_Glad_HatterThe_Glad_Hatter Rogue Jpeg JockeyRegistered User regular
edited December 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
Like the topic said, i'm asking if any european forumers can tell me if it's possible to use a european debit card, with the Maestro and Cirrus functions in the use.
Can you - pay at the cash register in a store?
- get money from ATM-machines
- withdraw money from banks?

Some say it's possible, but many people i know have had bad experiences, even in other european countries.

The_Glad_Hatter on
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Posts

  • FuzzywhaleFuzzywhale Registered User
    edited November 2008
    I'm an American in Europe for school, so I'm back and forth across the pond quite often and have used my Euro bank card in the US.

    Many ATMs in americaland have the maestro/cirrus logo on them; you can withdraw money from any of those. I at least have been charged a fee for that. You should be able to pay at the till if if they accept debit cards.

    I don't have any info regarding cash withdrawals. Perhaps someone else can chime in on that.

  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2008
    Yeah, most ATMs will work fine - just check for the logos before using them, but most are OK.

    I'm not sure it'd work for over-the-counter payments in the US. A UK Visa debit card (as opposed to a Visa CREDIT card, which also works) works fine as long as the shop takes Visa (which pretty much every shop does). Maestro is part of MasterCard so you'd think that any shop in the US that takes MasterCard CCs would also take Maestro DCs, but I'm not sure if that's the case. I can't find any info on their website, but the best thing to do would be to speak to your issuing bank and ask them.

    The best thing to do when travelling abroad is to take a variety of payment options - your cashline card for getting cash, one or more credit cards (ideally Visa and one other, I like Amex) and travellers cheques if you are especially worried. If you can't get a credit card, you can now get pre-paid credit cards where you pay money onto them in advance and then shops will treat them as normal CCs.

  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Also check that your bank doesn't charge you £rape for each use of the card abroad.

  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    When I went to PAX I got a MasterCard credit card and used that instead of my Maestro bank card. Less of a charge on it and accepted in more places.

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  • oncelingonceling Registered User
    edited November 2008
    Even as a Canadian (let alone from EU) popping over the border, I have trouble using a Cirrus or Maestro at the counter in the US. Rarely its fine, usually its a no-go. No problems with ATM's with the right logo though as others have pointed out.

  • The_Glad_HatterThe_Glad_Hatter Rogue Jpeg Jockey Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    okay, people here seem to say maestro will work at banks.. Some travellers here have told me it won't work :/
    So i'm thinking of upgrading my account and getting the free VISA.

    And i was just wondering, is visa accepted practically everywhere over there? because we always believe that "them americans" card everything. But i haven't got a clue as to how many different venues take visa. So how common is visa usage.

    Supermarkets will, i presume
    comicbook stores? or bookstores? (where i will be doing most of my spending)
    do you guys use it in places like Mcdonalds and other diners?

    Will i be able to do pretty much everything except buying a hotdog from a streetcart?

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  • CauldCauld Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    yes, everything but the smallest of small shops. There may be minimum charges for using your visa, like $5-$10. Especially at places where people usually don't spend that much, like convenience stores.

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Will i be able to do pretty much everything except buying a hotdog from a streetcart?

    Pretty much. The only places I can think of that are cash only are some prepared food vendors or small time restaurants (some of them have very good eats though). There may be some few larger stores that offer a cash discount, but still accept credit (e.g. Spec's, a large retailer of alcohol and snackies).

  • LewieP's MummyLewieP's Mummy Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I've never tried using my switch (debit card) anywhere other than the UK - I took a credit card to PAX, and just hammered that. Everywhere i wanted to use it accepted it, but I also took the pretty, colourful dollars, too.

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  • The_Glad_HatterThe_Glad_Hatter Rogue Jpeg Jockey Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Damnit.... the more i read up on what payment to use, the less i know what i'm going to decide upon.
    So far there are 4 ways:
    - order dollars in advance
    - get them at a travelex office in JFK
    - use my maestro card to withdraw money
    - use VISA to pay everything, use cashback at stores for cash.

    What say ye, H/A?
    are the visa extra costs going to bite me afterwards? is drawing money using visa more expensive than using my maestro?
    my bank's website has surprisingly few numbers on this subject...

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  • Kate of LokysKate of Lokys Registered User
    edited November 2008
    Many credit cards charge foreign-use fees, and even if they don't, they will rape you on the exchange rate every time.

    My advice would be to use cash, as much as possible. That has the added benefit of letting you see exactly how much you're spending, and you will have already dealt with the exchange rate up front. Cash is accepted everywhere, and you can budget for yourself by only bringing as much as you think you'll need when you go out, leaving the rest somewhere secure wherever you're staying. Get your money converted in advance, ideally at your local bank, because any sort of airport-based currency exchange service will rip you off hard.

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  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Well it depends what you are trying to do.

    If you're here less than 2 weeks, use your Maestro. Less than a month, use the Visa. More than that, and I'd use travellers cheques because the fees are far less. Cash them in when you need the money. Follow the security rules, and if the cheques get stolen, you don't lose money.

    AFAIK, you aren't able to open a bank account here without a US address and a long-term reason for being here that isn't tourism.

  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    When I went to PAX my CC was only a backup, the rest was a wad of cash. I budgeted £500 for the week, which was just under $900, and that covered a third of the cost of a room at the Sheraton for three nights, a third of the gas from Wisconsin to Seattle, and food and merch and trams and what have you on top of that. it was pretty much bang on what I needed.

    Depending on how long you're going for (and where you're going) you might want to consider something similar. Definitely take some sort of card but it doesn't need to be your primary method of spending.

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  • SamSam Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Yeah, most ATMs will work fine - just check for the logos before using them, but most are OK.

    I'm not sure it'd work for over-the-counter payments in the US. A UK Visa debit card (as opposed to a Visa CREDIT card, which also works) works fine as long as the shop takes Visa (which pretty much every shop does). Maestro is part of MasterCard so you'd think that any shop in the US that takes MasterCard CCs would also take Maestro DCs, but I'm not sure if that's the case. I can't find any info on their website, but the best thing to do would be to speak to your issuing bank and ask them.

    The best thing to do when travelling abroad is to take a variety of payment options - your cashline card for getting cash, one or more credit cards (ideally Visa and one other, I like Amex) and travellers cheques if you are especially worried. If you can't get a credit card, you can now get pre-paid credit cards where you pay money onto them in advance and then shops will treat them as normal CCs.

    Some places actually don't take overseas debit cards, but it mostly works fine.

    However, if you use any US bank card overseas without informing your bank they will flag and block the card until you call in and verify that you did travel overseas. I'm not sure if Euro banks are as stupid about since Europeans travel between international borders more.

  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Sam wrote: »
    I'm not sure if Euro banks are as stupid about since Europeans travel between international borders more.

    They are. My girlfriend's parents sometimes find themselves travelling to three different continents within the same week, so they run into this constantly.

    The best thing to do is to tell your bank in advance where you'll be going, but make sure that you find out how to dial their customer services line from your destination for when they block it anyway.

  • SamSam Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    japan wrote: »
    Sam wrote: »
    I'm not sure if Euro banks are as stupid about since Europeans travel between international borders more.

    They are. My girlfriend's parents sometimes find themselves travelling to three different continents within the same week, so they run into this constantly.

    The best thing to do is to tell your bank in advance where you'll be going, but make sure that you find out how to dial their customer services line from your destination for when they block it anyway.

    Yeah, it usually lists their number on the back of the card.

  • PongePonge Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    In my experience both me and my parents and my girlfriend have notified my bank every time we've travelled abroad, and 95% of the time they have gone ahead and cancelled the card.

    Not saying that it will definatly happen to you, and I would still recomend telling your bank about your travel, but have a back up means of supporting yourself just in case.

  • TL DRTL DR Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    japan wrote: »
    Also check that your bank doesn't charge you £rape for each use of the card abroad.

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  • CauldCauld Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Many credit cards charge foreign-use fees, and even if they don't, they will rape you on the exchange rate every time.

    My advice would be to use cash, as much as possible. That has the added benefit of letting you see exactly how much you're spending, and you will have already dealt with the exchange rate up front. Cash is accepted everywhere, and you can budget for yourself by only bringing as much as you think you'll need when you go out, leaving the rest somewhere secure wherever you're staying. Get your money converted in advance, ideally at your local bank, because any sort of airport-based currency exchange service will rip you off hard.

    I've always gotten the best exchange rates at ATMs and through credit cards. If you're staying at a hotel that does exchanges, that will probably be the worst rate you'll encounter. Followed by local banks in either country, airport exchanges are reasonably fair. Your best bet, in my opinion is to check the fee for your CC (mine is 1%), and get cash from an ATM for smaller transactions.

  • The_Glad_HatterThe_Glad_Hatter Rogue Jpeg Jockey Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    thanks a lot for the advise, guys.

    I'll be in NYC for a week. So my best bet would probably be a wad of cash bought at home and a credit/ debet card as a backup.

    Since my hotel and flight are already paid, i think i'll be taking about 400-500 bucks along for food and fun... Whatever's left can be exchanged at Travelex i presume..

    Oh, and i don't think i need to notify my bank since we euros go abroad quite a lot (i can see the netherlands from my window and ride my bike to germany..), but still thanks for the tip. Didn't know banks did that...

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  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Sam wrote: »
    japan wrote: »
    Sam wrote: »
    I'm not sure if Euro banks are as stupid about since Europeans travel between international borders more.

    They are. My girlfriend's parents sometimes find themselves travelling to three different continents within the same week, so they run into this constantly.

    The best thing to do is to tell your bank in advance where you'll be going, but make sure that you find out how to dial their customer services line from your destination for when they block it anyway.

    Yeah, it usually lists their number on the back of the card.

    Sometimes there are different numbers for if you're calling from abroad, and sometimes there are call centres located in the country you travel to. A lot of British banks run English-language call centres in Spain, for example.

    Alternatively, if you are calling the number on the back of the card, you need to know the international dialling code for your country.

    I bring it up mostly because the last time you want to figuring this stuff out is when your card's been cancelled, thus cutting you off from ready access to funds.

  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited December 2008
    Damnit.... the more i read up on what payment to use, the less i know what i'm going to decide upon.
    So far there are 4 ways:
    - order dollars in advance
    - get them at a travelex office in JFK
    - use my maestro card to withdraw money
    - use VISA to pay everything, use cashback at stores for cash.

    What say ye, H/A?
    are the visa extra costs going to bite me afterwards? is drawing money using visa more expensive than using my maestro?
    my bank's website has surprisingly few numbers on this subject...

    You do all of these.

    Get a decent amount of spending money in cash either before you go or when you touch-down, depending on where you will get the best exchange rate.

    Bring your cirrus card for withdrawing more cash if you need it. You don't take huge wads of cash with you in case you get robbed, but you might need more when you're out there. Just don't take out $10 at a time, wait until your cash has all but run out and take out a decent amount all at once, say $50+ as your bank will charge a small fee for each individual withdrawl (may $2 or so, check with your bank before you go). This will be a cheaper way of getting cash than withdrawing it with a credit card. May or may not be cheaper than buying more money from a bureau de change but hang it, it's more convenient.

    Get a VISA credit card or similar for making larger payments - meals, hotels etc. - and be aware of any costs in advance. Also be aware of your credit limit and keep a journal of monies paid with it. Don't EVER buy cash with a credit card. Anywhere. Not abroad, not at home, not on the moon, not in your dreams. This means you don't have to carry hundreds of dollars on your person if you're going out for a meal and/or the cinema/museums etc. You take cash for small purchases and leave the big expenses for the VISA.


    The most cost-effective solution is probably to just buy up enough cash in advance of going to last you the whole holiday at the best exchange rate you can find, ideally with a 0% buy-back deal. But that is ridiculously inconvenient as it involves accurately predicting how much money you will need and then carrying around a huge amount of cash that if you loose or it gets stolen you are up the creek without a paddle. If a credit or debit card gets stolen, you can have it cancelled so you don't loose any money and the issuer may also be able to get you emergency funds and/or a new card so you don't have to sell your body to earn the boat fare home. Go for a sensible balance as outline above, it's the safest and most convenient way to travel and the extra expenses and charges really are minimal unless you have an ass of a bank or are doing stupid things like withdrawing $1 at a time with your credit card. Personally, I like to take two credit cards with me as well as my cashline card, because it gives you options. For example, if the first card is declined or refused or you accidentally leave it on a tray in the canteen at the airport in Amsterdam or whatever, you have a second.

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