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Chip & sign vs. chip & pin in London

Chip & sign vs. chip & pin in London

Old Oct 27, 18, 12:05 am
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Chip & sign vs. chip & pin in London

I won't be heading across the pond until next year, but want to see if I need to start calling the credit card companies to get new ones issued. I have read somewhere that most merchants in London use chip & pin. Is chip & sign still an option at most places? All of my cards have chips, but none are pin-enabled. Also, is it a safe assumption that smaller "Mom & Pop" stores are usually cash only? TIA.

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Old Oct 27, 18, 12:20 am
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Chip & Sign really isn't a thing here at all. It may be an option, but it's something that most merchants won't have heard of. However, if a merchant is directed by the terminal to check signature or swipe card, that's usually what they'll do.

Almost everywhere takes cards now - even some buskers have started. Smaller shops may impose a lower spending limit or occasionally a transaction fee. I barely use cash these days.
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Old Oct 27, 18, 1:13 am
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And for transactions under 35, the default expectation will be contactless, rather than inserting your card (you will still be able to though!).
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Old Oct 27, 18, 1:51 am
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In central London, you can live cash free. The only places I can think of that still insist on cash are street markets.
As for cards and signing. That's possible but rarely done - and may require a supervisor to be called as many junior staff will have never processed it. Life will be simpler with chip and pin cards.
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Old Oct 27, 18, 2:17 am
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Originally Posted by rcspeirs View Post
In central London, you can live cash free. The only places I can think of that still insist on cash are street markets.


Indeed my weekly purchase of avos from Chapel Market is pretty much the only time I use cash. That said, many market stalls in London, especially at the likes of Spitalfields and Borough, routinely accept cards now. Devices like iZettle are making it very easy.

As for cards and signing. That's possible but rarely done - and may require a supervisor to be called as many junior staff will have never processed it. Life will be simpler with chip and pin cards.
Perhaps a more likely reason for the delay will be in finding a pen!
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Old Oct 27, 18, 4:47 am
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Yup, finding a pen will be the biggest hassle.

I can easily go 2-3 weeks in London without using cash, whereas using Contactless in some parts of the US can sometimes feel like advanced magic from the reactions it gets!
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Old Oct 27, 18, 5:34 am
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Originally Posted by LAX View Post
I won't be heading across the pond until next year, but want to see if I need to start calling the credit card companies to get new ones issued. I have read somewhere that most merchants in London use chip & pin. Is chip & sign still an option at most places?
Request a pin # for your chip/signature card if one has not already been assigned. Therefore in those instances in which you will need to enter a pin, you'll have it.

That said, I have found that I have had to sign the slip when at grocery stores and restaurants. I have never had an issue in which an employee didn't know what to do. I was last in London in April
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Old Oct 27, 18, 5:43 am
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Chip and pin is pretty much universal in developed countries except for the U.S.A. and contactless is ubiquitous in the U.K. and Canada.
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Old Oct 27, 18, 7:16 am
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While contactless and chip and pin are most prevalent, I've often had visitors from the US and the machine will tell the merchant a signature is required. I've never seen it be a problem for any of my US friends.
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Old Oct 27, 18, 9:52 am
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I've made several trips to London and a number more to Scotland over the last 20 years. In 1998, the use of a credit card in small towns was almost unheard of but I had no issues in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Commerce has evolved so that when I went to Scotland in 2016, I only had issues using a credit card at one gas station in a small town to the north of Aberdeen. As others have noted, London can be negotiated almost cash free nowadays. For my last several trips to the UK, Ireland, Paris, and Rome, I've withdrawn less than 50 pounds/euros at the beginning of the trip and always have cash left over. And most of the time, the clerk at a store or the server at a restaurant has a pen handy for us backwards Americans and our chip and signature cards.
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Old Oct 27, 18, 10:40 am
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Visa and Mastercard backed credit cards are much more widely accepted than Amex, particularly in smaller shops and discount shops
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Old Oct 27, 18, 12:16 pm
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This was actually more of an issue 10 years ago or so when the rest of the world all went Chip and PIN. Now, most European merchants (yes, London is in Europe), have adapted to dealing with backward Americans and their antiquated credit cards.
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Old Oct 27, 18, 12:42 pm
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If you have a chip and signature card, most likely you'll insert the card into the reader, the reader will say to remove it and you'll be asked to sign a receipt. We do have chip and signature cards here, mainly for people who specifically request one because they don't think they can manage a PIN.

As others have said, you can live cash free in the UK mostly, with some notable exceptions.
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Old Oct 27, 18, 2:28 pm
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I realised when my replacement card came for one of my cards that the the last card had now expired and I had hapilly used it for several years with never having signed the back
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Old Oct 27, 18, 2:58 pm
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Seriously, what is the deal with the US having the chip and sign jazz? For such a supposedly developed country, it seems a little primitive. Yes, it makes for a good back up option (lord knows I've been saved by chip and sign on occasion), but being as common as it is seems...well...odd, in my opinion.
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