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Carte Bancaire vs US visa or mastercard - in France

ScottPilgrim

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I think this may be a dumb question but I cannot find the answer elsewhere. If a hotel or auberge or gites accepts Carte Bancaire does that mean they accept credit cards such as US issued Visa and Mastercards or does it mean they only accept CB cards issued by French banks which seem to hybrid ATM cards/credit cards.
 
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Anhalter

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2019 CF
No. They might, and due to covid, chances are getting higher, but there is always a chance, that the accept a "checking card" but not a credit card. (or just cash)

edit: chances get significantly lower if you want to use anyhting besides Visa or Master. Amex, Diners and whatsnot are quite rarerly accepted
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
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My card from BNP is a carte bancaire and treated like a debit card in France. I would never think to use it for a purchase in Spain other than an ATM withdrawals.
 

NavyBlue

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Le Puy and Camino Frances. Via Francigena. Tro-Breiz in progress.
Hi,

My French-issued Carte Bancaire is an international Visa (debit) card. Used in hotels anywhere, including Spain, without any comment from the receiver. Also used worldwide for purchasing from web sites (US, UK, Poland...)

In fact, in France, "Carte Bancaire" is :
- a generic name for "plastic" from any bank
- a logo / label (CB) featured on some French cards (Visa and Mastercard as far as I know).

OK with Anhalter about accepted cards.
 

Barbara

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
Any Visa or Mastercard is fine. Forget about Diners card or American Express.
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
I bring both Amex and Visa..
Both to not charge conversion fees…
And there are a number of establishments that do take Amex.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Visa is generally the safe bet in Europe. Most cartes bancaires are Visa, whether credit or debit.

To "qualify" for a non-Visa pure debit card, you basically need to be a homeless drunk. Even a pure debit card that you charge with cash will be Visa.
 

Barbara

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
"qualify" for a non-Visa pure debit card, you basically need to be a homeless drunk. Even a pure debit card that you charge with cash will be Visa.
Mostly... There are some very expensive cards used by homeless drunks who can't get anything else. They recharge them with actual cash at the tobacconist.
Prepaid debit cards come in Visa and Mastercard flavours and can be recharged via a bank account or another card. N26 and Revolut for example. One interesting thing about them is that they can be frozen or blocked by a phone app so are very safe to carry, and you can hide a spare. They also give a very good exchange rate.
 

ScottPilgrim

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I think I understand that Carte Bancaire act as Visa or Mastercard (depending on branding) for French holders abroad in addition to being ATM cards, but they are described as having a PIN which makes them more like an ATM card by US definitions. You can also use your bank card in US (mine is also branded VISA) to pay for things if you provide the PIN, though it is not a common practice where I am because it can incur fees and is security risk since it is linked to your bank account. Anyway, I never do it.

My real question was this: if a place is listed as accepting Carte Bancaire in Miam Miam does this mean they will also accept Visa or Mastercard Credit Cards (not linked to a bank account) issued by US Banks (like JP Morgan Chase or Wells Fargo) or is CB a term of art that refers only to cards issued within some internal network of banks that are essentially ATM cards with Visa charging (ie require a pin).
 
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ScottPilgrim

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Ok. After some digging, I have the distinction: chip & signature cards (which is what most people in US use) vs chip & PIN (which apparently is the common configuration in France). US Card holders only use PINs with credit cards to make cash withdrawals on a credit card, which generally is a bad idea financially. So the question is can one use Chip & Signature cards where CB accepted in France. Seems maybe that it depends. I'll talk to my bank about the pin situation, if one can get one issued to use for charges as opposed to just cash withdrawals. Will report my findings for anyone interested.
 

ScottPilgrim

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Mostly... There are some very expensive cards used by homeless drunks who can't get anything else. They recharge them with actual cash at the tobacconist.
Prepaid debit cards come in Visa and Mastercard flavours and can be recharged via a bank account or another card. N26 and Revolut for example. One interesting thing about them is that they can be frozen or blocked by a phone app so are very safe to carry, and you can hide a spare. They also give a very good exchange rate.
Prepaid is a useful suggestion since my daughter may be traveling solo after I return to US and it would be good to make sure she didn't have to carry large amounts of cash. Thank you!
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
CB = Visa

Mastercard can and often does work too, but you should be ready on occasion with a plan B.

Though you should certainly be able to get cash from ATMs with Mastercard.

Prepaid CB/Visa might be a good backup.
 

Barbara

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
Prepaid is a useful suggestion since my daughter may be traveling solo after I return to US and it would be good to make sure she didn't have to carry large amounts of cash. Thank you!
I've sent you a private message
 
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Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.

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