Is Master Card widely accepted in Paris and Barcelona? I don't want to use my credit card in Europe during my precruise trip. I also don't want to carry a lot of cash (don't know why all the stories of pickpockets over there have me so scared when I don't even think about it when I go home to Chicago). So, I was going to get traveler's checks (haven't used them in decades) and saw there's a Euro Debit Card that's a Master Card. I read somewhere that Visa is the card of choice in Europe. Seasoned travelers, will the MC debit card be accepted at stores and restaurants?
You will find more establishments that will take your Mastercard then will take your travelers checks. If you do use traveler's checks then use a well known name such as "American Express". Fewer European and other retailers now take traveler's checks.
When I travel I use a Visa card with an Amex backup and my ATM card for small amounts of local currency. It beats having to find a bank, that's open, to cash a traveler's check. You will also receive the current exchange rate when you use an ATM rather than the higher rate and fees associated with many banks, hotels and cruise lines.
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If you have travelled in American large cities, Don't worry about pickpockets, just take the same pre-cautions that you take in the US.
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Just bear in mind when using a debit card, that the protections normally afforded a credit card user (i.e.: $50 dollar responsibility limit unless immediately notified, etc.) at least did not use to be applicable in any way to your debit card. Meaning in short, someone gains access to your debit card and your pin number, they can completely empty your bank account and there is nothing you can do about it. Now again, that may no longer be true and if so there may be ways to become secure while traveling, but it is one of the reasons I have never possessed a debit card.
A few years ago I got notices about this from my Credit Union yet everytime I would mention it to someone, they'd reply they'd never heard of that. Therefore if using a debit card ANYWHERE, I'd check with my financial institution. Better safe than sorry.
Pooter I'm glad you clarified that, and yes I have used both Mastercard and a Debit Mastercard in Europe with no problem. Prior to leaving in November I did some research and found that this was the best way to handle currency for me. I got the very best exchange rate I could find with a minimum of fees and risk. My husband and I both had cards for all of our accounts. That way if one of them was lost or stolen, we only had to cancel one card and still had access to the money.
I think it is wise to be very aware of your surroundings in Barcelona and Rome. They are thick with pickpockets and scam artists. Stay away from crowds. Make sure you are the last one on the train. Be aware who is behind you when getting on escalators and the trains if you are not the last one on. It is much more common to fall victim to pickpockets in Europe than it is in the States, and do not play the Shell game, if you are sitting at a table in an open air cafe and someone tries to sell you some maps, tell them to take a hike. Often they lay their goods down on your table and when they go to pick up their merchandise they snag your camera, cell phone or whatever else you might have had laying there. Do not let purses or bags lay on the floor or hang on seat backs. This is a good place to use a money belt or a neck wallet. It is not uncommon to see women selling flowers or some other greenery as you leave the churches, do not buy them, as this is one of those time when people sometimes find themselves relieved of more cash than they intended.
Just be aware of your surroundings, but not to the point that you ruin the adventure. I look at it as a game. If I leave the Country without getting ripped off, then I won. If I should fall victim, then I make sure whatever they get away with, isn't much.
On our November trip, we did pretty well. The only thing that was stolen was my GPS. I forgot to pull it out of my suitcase and it mysteriously disappeared somewhere between Rome's Davinci Airport and Belfast, Ireland. So lesson learned and I wasn't overly fond of the GPS anyway. So no biggie and I was able to rent one from the car rental place in Ireland.
To clarify, this will be a prepaid Mastercard Debit Card in EUROS, not US dollars, purchased from Travelex (not my bank debit card) - Travelex is the currency exchange provider in our area (and who AAA uses) and also issues the traveler's checks. Since it'll be in Euros, will there still be an exchange rate?
It sounds like you will pay the exchange rate when you purchase the card in Euros. Travelex generally tacks on an additional service charge in addition to the exchange rate at the time you buy your Euros.
I use my Capital One card. No extra charge for currency exchanges.
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