Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Credit cards in Europe?

As you all may know, I'm planning a 2 month hostel-to-hostel trip to Europe. It's going to be my first trip abroad, so I'm trying to make sure I cover all my bases to make sure nothing insane goes wrong and I get stuck somewhere, however wonderful that might be. So I've talked to a few of my globe-trotting friends.

My friend Thomas, who has been all over Europe, had a good piece of advice for me. He said to make sure I got a credit card with $0 foreign transaction fees, otherwise they would rack up pretty quick and I would end up owing a fortune. Simple, right? Not so much. I spent a good two days looking for the right credit card. One with good rewards, no yearly fee, and no transaction fees is easy to find (I don't worry about the APR since I always pay mine off every month) if you have great credit and are some kind of big spender. Let's be clear. My credit is awesome. When I bought my car last year it was around 780 and I've been building since then. I am not, however, a big spender. I limit the things I buy with my credit card to make sure I never go over what I can actually afford. And I don't afford a lot. At least, not from that account. Well, eventually I got the bright idea to look at my current credit card benefits. BOOM. There it was. My current credit card has no transaction fees. I thought the search was over. I was wrong.

Apparently, in order to travel around Europe with a credit card, you need more than a magnetic strip. In addition to your magnetic strip you need an EMV chip in your credit card (An EMV chip is much harder to duplicate than a simple magnetic strip, making it much safer to use. Especially abroad).  Well, since the US hasn't caught on to this technology yet (the EU started all of this in 1994. That's TWENTY years ago, y'all), we don't have them on a lot of cards. Mine certainly doesn't. So, I'm back on the search. I think I've found a couple that would suit my needs, I just need to quit being lazy and pick one.

Really though, America, why are we 20 years behind this EMV curve? We have tons of companies selling anti-identity theft stuff all over the place. All the hoops you have to jump through if someone steals your card is ridiculous. If this simple little EMV chip can help prevent a lot of that... WHERE YA AT, AMERICA?!