Tips for Canadian cardholders travelling to Europe

As Canadians everywhere prepare for summer holidays, Visa has prepared the following tips specifically for those Canadians looking to travel to Europe:

Before You Go:

  • Check your cards. Know the expiry dates, account balance and amount of credit available to you. By doing this, you won't be caught short with a card that expires while you're away, or not have enough credit to cover your trip expenses.
  • Know your financial institution's restrictions on daily withdrawal limits. All financial institutions have them, but they shouldn't be a problem if you use ATMs for pocket money and charge major expenses, such as hotels, to your Visa card.
  • Make a copy of everything in your wallet. Keep a record of credit card account numbers and telephone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards in a safe place.
  • Purchase your tickets using your Visa card. If tickets are lost, or your trip is cancelled, you'll have the receipt as proof of purchase.
  • Get in touch with your financial institution. Tell them where and when you'll be traveling - this can help ensure that your card isn't flagged for unusual activity.

During Your Trip:

  • An easy way to get local currency. With your Visa card you can access the Visa/PLUS ATM network at close to one million machines. When landing in a foreign country, check the arrival and baggage claim areas at the airport for Visa/PLUS ATM signs for quick, easy access to local currency. If you plan to use your VISA card for cash withdrawals, make sure you know the PIN that is associated with your Visa card.

  • Know the system. Many countries in the EU have recently migrated to chip and PIN technology, which means that those countries will require that all domestic Visa transactions be completed with a PIN instead of a signature. This change in technology is part of an effort to minimize lost and stolen card fraud and counterfeit fraud.

    The new technology requirements however, do not apply to visitors travelling to the EU with Visa cards issued from their country of origin. All merchants displaying a Visa logo are required to accept all forms of Visa cards that are presented to them.

    As with the introduction of any new technology, it may take time for everyone to get used to the new system and some EU merchants may be unclear as to how to treat foreign-issued cards or cards without a chip. The chip and PIN sales terminals being used in the EU can recognize and handle magnetic stripe and chip and signature cards. The terminal will automatically read the card and know whether a PIN or a signature is necessary. It will then give the sales clerk the appropriate prompts.

    If you encounter a problem at a merchant in the EU, you should ask the merchant to swipe the card and follow the prompts on the terminal, or ask the merchant to call their acquiring bank for clarification on the process. If the problem is still not resolved, please call Visa Customer Care Services at the following toll-free numbers for various countries in Europe:

San Marino:

See full list of numbers worldwide.

  • Contact Visa immediately if your card is lost or stolen. Remember, Visa is only a phone call away. Simply call the toll-free telephone number Visa provides in each country and you'll be linked to Visa Customer Care Services, 24/7. See full listing of numbers.

    Generally, Visa can provide replacements for lost or stolen cards anywhere from one to three business days, depending on the type of Visa card and your location.

  • Keep sales slips as proof of purchase for customs or in case of a dispute, and for reconciling your account when you get home.
  • Shop with your Visa card. Visa cardholders receive a foreign exchange rate that is typically better than the rate used to convert cash at a local currency dealer.

When you get home:

  • Keep your receipts and read your monthly statements carefully and contact your credit card provider right away if you see a charge you don't recognize or if you notice any inconsistencies.

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