Follow these important tips and advice about Finance - Before you go to France to
- avoid frozen accounts - find an ATM - get a chip and PIN!
Protect yourself from a frozen credit card or bank account
Share your destinations and schedules with your financial institutions.
Otherwise, your account may be flagged and frozen for potential theft of your card when it is used outside your normal routine.
Include debit cards, credit cards and any other bank accounts you might need while away from home.
This protects you from frozen accounts when your cards are used in places that are not customary for you.
Finding an ATM or Cash machine in France
Look for a Distributeur de Billets or Cash Point in France.
This is their ATM (automated teller machine).
You can find them at banks, the post office, inside grocery stores and shopping malls.
They are also available at airports, train stations, and full-service rest areas on the autoroutes (multi-lane, high-speed highways).
Check with your own card issuer for international transaction fees. Just like in the United States, it is possible that the owner of the Distributeur de Billets may charge a fee.
Most provide an option to select language; English (anglais) is usually marked by the British flag.
Learn the exchange rate before you go and keep up with it while in France. Most newspapers print the exchange rate for euros and dollars.
On the Road Tips
The word, péage, indicates a toll road. Have enough cash (euros) ready; select a toll booth with a person inside. The person can try your credit card - but don't expect it to work every time. Avoid credit cards-only lanes, marked with cartes blue. They may have signs for Visa and MasterCard. However, often only French/European versions of these are accepted!
Need fuel in your car? Many service stations are self-serve with no attendants! These require a Chip AND PIN card and no alternative payment is accepted - nor is anyone there to receive it.
Chip AND PIN - not Chip and Signature
France uses chip and PIN cards. This means that everyone will be expecting you to enter a PIN. Since USA credit cards sometimes work differently (often without a PIN), expect some confusion from the French. It may take several swipes of your credit card for it to work. Also, some machines have no way to swipe a magnetic strip and the French do not know how to input numbers as an alternative.
It is prudent to contact your credit card issuer well in advance and INSIST upon Chip and PIN (not Chip and Signature). Assure that you get your PIN before you go!