Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > TravelBuzz
Reload this Page >

Travel in Europe Without a Credit Card?

Travel in Europe Without a Credit Card?

Old Yesterday, 11:16 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Austin
Programs: AA P4L, WN, BA, DL, UA, HHonors, IHG
Posts: 3,394
Travel in Europe Without a Credit Card?

I am helping an American friend in planning her first trip ever to Western Europe, specifically to Bavaria and Switzerland. She is in her early 70s and techno-phobic, although she does carry a smartphone. She will be traveling solo, not on a tour.

She does not have any credit cards, and is unlikely to be able to get one. (perhaps she can get a secured CC, I'm not sure.)

What issues is she likely to face during her trip due to carrying only euros and a debit card?
Middle_Seat is offline  
Old Yesterday, 11:20 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: next to HAM
Programs: LH SEN, EB*G(1)
Posts: 756
Cash works very well in Germany and Switzerland - but bring CHF to Switzerland; EUR are accepted in tourist areas, but not at a good rate.
PAX_fips is offline  
Old Yesterday, 11:24 am
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Austin
Programs: AA P4L, WN, BA, DL, UA, HHonors, IHG
Posts: 3,394
Originally Posted by PAX_fips View Post
...bring CHF to Switzerland; EUR are accepted in tourist areas, but not at a good rate.
Dang! I forgot about her needing Swiss francs as well as Euros. That's one more complication.
Middle_Seat is offline  
Old Yesterday, 11:26 am
  #4  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Berlin, Germany; Toronto, Canada; and SW Florida, USA
Programs: UA 1K, BA Gold, Hyatt Globalist, and assorted others
Posts: 23,899
No problem at all, except she wonít be able to rent a car and may have to leave a cash deposit in larger, more expensive hotels. Other than that I canít think of anything.
BearX220 and The_Bouncer like this.
LondonElite is online now  
Old Yesterday, 11:31 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Orange County, CA (SNA)
Programs: Delta - DM, MM; Hilton: Gold(ish); Marriott - Peon
Posts: 717
I would get a secured CC for reserve anyway. Maybe one you can return and get a refund (if such exists). But not a stored value debit.
tanglin is offline  
Old Yesterday, 11:38 am
  #6  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Watchlisted by the prejudiced, en route to purgatory
Programs: Just Say No to Fleecing and Blacklisting
Posts: 89,323
The friend’s biggest problem may be that the debit card doesn’t work when and where she may try to use it on the trip. She should notify her bank that she will be using the card overseas, doing so in the hopes of minimizing the chances of the bank blocking the card’s use. Having cash for those occasions where a card doesn’t work for some reason or another is very useful still in Germany and Switzerland.

Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
No problem at all, except she won’t be able to rent a car and may have to leave a cash deposit in larger, more expensive hotels. Other than that I can’t think of anything.
She has a debit card, so that may open the doors to not having to leave a cash deposit, even as the card may be hit with a hold amount for incidentals. A debit card also may open the doors to renting a car, but someone that age probably won’t want to drive abroad if they have little to no experience driving abroad, and there are risks with driving that even I try to avoid and thus love public transit when and where it can work out.

There are still trips I make to these areas where I may use only cash and debit cards. While I would suggest that charge and credit cards are better to use than debit cards, the use of a debit card may work nearly as well if the account is reasonably well-funded and a big hold or draw on funds from the debit card-linked account(s) won’t create massive hardship during the trip or even afterwards. If it may create a hardship, then I would suggest opening a temporary bank account at another bank that comes with a debit card and move funds there for a period of time and then empty and close that debit card account a few months after the trip is finished.

Last edited by GUWonder; Yesterday at 11:49 am
GUWonder is offline  
Old Yesterday, 12:23 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 74
A credit card is good to have even in the US. There are advantages over a debit card. How about the bank that issues the debit card?
A318neo is offline  
Old Yesterday, 12:44 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Portland
Programs: Delta Platinum, Alaska MVP
Posts: 111
I travel the world almost continuously at this point. Use my credit cards very very little.

Just bring a few thousand dollars in euros and local currency and have zero issues.

That said, for older woman, first time. Have her maybe keep three envelopes of cash in different places. One in purse. One in luggage. One in toiletry bag. Just in case one gets stolen or whatever.

emergency debit card with bank notified of her plans and I canít imagine any problems.


ó
I do pay for my hotels with credit cards. So, that is issue if she plans to pre book. I pay many hotels in cash upon arrival when I am trying to use up remaining foreign currency.
WestCoastPDX is online now  
Old Yesterday, 2:49 pm
  #9  
2020 FlyerTalk Awards
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Roswell, GA
Programs: AA EXP 2.8m,Lifetime PLT, Hilton Diamond, IHG PlLT, SPG Gold
Posts: 2,251
Also for every transaction she makes on her debut card
she will probably be charged a fee
IBJoel likes this.
fotographer is offline  
Old Yesterday, 3:16 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: NC
Programs: AA Lifetime Plat - 2MM miles
Posts: 8,386
Cash is an invitation to pickpockets. I avoid it whenever possible. If credit is not an option, have her tell her bank about her travels ahead of time so her debit card isn't turned off
rufflesinc, FlyingCow and ajGoes like this.
Redhead is offline  
Old Yesterday, 3:17 pm
  #11  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: MCI
Programs: AA Gold 1MM, AS MVP, UA Silver, WN A-List, Marriott LT Titanium, HH Diamond
Posts: 47,131
Will the debit card function as an ATM card as well? (Mine does with almost universal acceptance.) With that, I could probably complete a Europe trip without using a credit card. Might go over with a little seed cash - just in case there's a queue for the ATM in the airport and I want to just grab a taxi or train and get to the city.

I always make sure I have some money in both my checking and shares accounts - I occasionally run into a foreign ATM that does not give an option of selecting which account to withdraw from. And yes, I ran into one in Italy that would only pull from my shares account, the opposite of what the default typically is.

That said, I'd still look into the secured CC option. Get it on the opposite network from whatever your debit card is: that way you have one Visa and one Mastercard. I've been in countries where my MCs were randomly rejecting and my Visas were going through, or vice versa. (Usually because of in-country issues, as my banks in the US did not show any rejections.)
pinniped is offline  
Old Yesterday, 3:43 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 360
Originally Posted by Middle_Seat View Post
I am helping an American friend in planning her first trip ever to Western Europe, specifically to Bavaria and Switzerland. She is in her early 70s and techno-phobic, although she does carry a smartphone. She will be traveling solo, not on a tour.

She does not have any credit cards, and is unlikely to be able to get one. (perhaps she can get a secured CC, I'm not sure.)

What issues is she likely to face during her trip due to carrying only euros and a debit card?
Cards are extremely low tech (just remember your 4 digit pin), and way more secure than cash.

Germany and Switzerland are cash-friendly, but she may ran into of troubles while, for example, buying public transport tickets (some machines do not accept cash).

Debit cards works very well in Europe also (at least European debit cards), so if she has one I will use it rather than cash.

If she has no cards, I will get two prepaid cards (WITH chip&pin) and load them with the money

https://usa.visa.com/pay-with-visa/c...aid-cards.html

https://www.mastercard.us/en-us/cons...aid-cards.html
schrodingerdog is offline  
Old Yesterday, 4:01 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: South Park, CO
Programs: Tegridy Elite
Posts: 5,276
It may be worth a shot to help her apply for a credit card - only out a few minutes of time and a hard pull (which she wouldn't care about) if not approved. While I get that she isn't going to be a candidate for a fancy rewards card or a super-high credit limit...and some very basic cards can be easier to get approval for such folks. Check around on FICO forums or creditboards.com as those tend to have a lot of folks with new credit profiles or other difficulties discussing which cards are easier to get approved for.
84fiero is offline  
Old Yesterday, 4:14 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Programs: Hilton Diamond, IHG Spire Ambassador, Global Entry
Posts: 492
The answer all depends in what she intends on buying. Could you get away without one? You can do anything you want. Would I ever go to Europe without my card? Not a chance in hell.
Twickenham likes this.
Super Mario is offline  
Old Yesterday, 4:40 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2018
Programs: Flying Blue, BAEC, VAFC, IHG Platinum, Hilton Honors
Posts: 166
I live in Europe, and was all cash and debit for many years.

Only got a credit card to benefit from fee free foreign transactions. It's useful when I hire a car, but I've done almost everything else I could want to across the continent with debit and cash.
IBJoel likes this.
DeeGee26.2 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: