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US Credit Card Problems at Roman Restaurants??

I wonder if anyone has had trouble using the standard US credit card at restaurants and shops in Rome? I believe they are useless at Italian gas station. In the past the problem has been hit and miss. However as Europeans have gone over to the new technology I suspect the problem may be getting worse.

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  1. You should not have a problem in Rome. We had this problem with gas stations in France, and also at some highway toll booths. Gas stations with card readers at the pumps are impossible. We had to pay more for gas in many cases because we could only use the stations that were attended. In Italy the gas stations are almost all attended. You may have to tell the attendant to swipe the card, as they are used to the European type cards. The same goes for restaurants, you only need to explain to the staff that they have to swipe the card. It should not be a problem, and in fact I don't recall ever having to explain this in Italy, even in the most non-touristy and out-of-the-way restaurants.

    1. we havent had this problem with restaurants anywhere (Italy or France) tho we more frequently pay with cash in restaurants.

      1. The new "chip and pin" cards being used in Europe are impossible to get for Americans if you don't have european bank accounts. The newspapers here (in the US) have written about this technology extensively, but when you call the banks to inquire, they don't know what you're talking about! Supposedly you can buy "debit" cards at Thomas Cook but that's only for the UK.

        6 Replies
        1. re: mnosyne

          not true. my US bank issued me a chip and pin card without me even asking for it. i wouldn't normally endorse wells fargo, but they do offer the chip and pin. i have found that in the UK some credit card machines will only accept chip and pin cards whereas in rome, standard cards are widely accepted.

          1. re: katieparla

            I believe that Chase will also issue a chip and pin card, but it comes at a price.

            1. re: VivreManger

              I've heard of some of the challenges my cabin crew and pilot friends have had in different parts of the world, but my understanding is that the Wachovia Bank Group now offer chip and pin and possibly even Capital One...although Capital One may still only be here in the UK.

              May all your journeys be ones of discovery!

              Fr B+

              1. re: FrBill

                Capital One in the US just told me that they do not issue chip and pin cards.

                1. re: VivreManger

                  I just returned from Rome and had absolutely no problem using my AmEx and Visa cards at seven restaurants and elsewhere. I used an ATM card for cash withdrawls (issued by Band of Am) without a problem. I made numerous "non-meal" purchases with my US credit cards at supermarkets, wine stores, book shops, and at Termini kiosks to purchase train tickets. No problems anywhere.

                  1. re: wristband

                    glad it worked out fine.

                    the only place in Europe we have had this problem to date were in Paris (some bank ATMS not accepting american cards, we found places that did) and at automated ticket machines for the rail line going into the city, second at gas stations which were unattended. We have never had a problem in any other contexts, tho historically an ATM might spit out one or another card for no apparent reason.

        2. My wife and I go to France and Italy every winter, so I know it requires an attendant to use our credit cards. We use our cards almost exclusively because it appears that Visa gives the best exchange rate. The first time we entered France we had a terrible time getting off the toll highway, since the road signs switch colors between the two countries. There were unmanned toll booths that required coins every few feet down the road, which took all our change. At the last one, we didn’t have enough coins. As cars started to back up behind us, we asked for help with sign language from a couple of maintenance workers who were chatting with each other nearby. They motioned for us to back up to first toll machine (no coins). We did that but we only had American credit cards. Although I was afraid that I would never see my card again, I stuck it in. The gate went up, the card came back and we got the hell out of there. I was sure the 80 cent toll would be $10.80 including service charges on my bill, but I was pleasantly surprised to see only the 80 cent charge.