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I was looking for hostel in Vienna using portals such as HostelBookers, but when I've tried to book them, I was landing on the final page when the credit card was required. You need to put such data as expire date etc., which, AFAIK, are used by US credit cards, which have not chips nor magnetic belt. Those are considered quite secure, and I've heard many warning to not use US-credit cards because of security issues.

I have the European bank card - normal Girocard (issued in Germany, by Postbank), which has a chip which authorizes the transactions. Such cards are the most popular in Europe - practically everyone I know has such card, and not the US-like one.

Nevertheless, the portals I've found are requiring the US card for booking hostels in Europe. Is there any alternative booking system, which allows me to book the hostel with the European stuff I have? I think that bank transfer would be problematic, because international money transfers take a lot of time and cost much, but surely it should be possible to find something out? As I understand, the most problematic part is the charging of the guest which books and doesn't come in, so the deposit is required.

Are there any alternative systems for booking, allowing bank transfer or some other form of trust, but not requiring US credit cards?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

You're confused: requiring the expiration date and the 3- or 4-digit code at the back has nothing to do with being a “US credit card”.

Girocard is a German payment network. It can only be used to pay for things in Germany. You can't use it in other countries, European or otherwise.

Many Girocard cards are simultaneously Maestro or V PAY cards. Those are international networks, so if your card has a Maestro or V PAY logo, it can be used in most other European countries, including Austria I believe. Maestro is also accepted in many non-European countries, including places where only the magnetic stripe is used, whereas V PAY is more restricted and requires a chip-reading terminal. If your card has one of these logos, you can use it online, and you will probably need to provide the expiration date and the 3- or 4-digit code at the back for authentication.

Whether the card has a chip or not only matters when you're paying by inserting the card in a reader (“customer-present transactions”, in industry jargon). For online payments, authenticating you as the card holder by asking you for the expiration date and 3- or 4-digit code at the back is standard. (It isn't required, but if the merchant doesn't ask for this, they get less insurance in case of fraud, so most do.) Merchants who ask for this information are supposed to adhere to security standards to limit the security risks, including not storing the 3-digit code in any permanent form (i.e. it must directly go to the bank for authorization and be transferred afterwards), though it's difficult as a customer to know whether the merchant is compliant.

If you don't want to trust the merchant with your payment information, see if your bank issues single-use credit card numbers. Some do it as part of their standard package, others for a fee, others not at all.

If you want to pay for something on the Internet without using a credit card at all, your opportunities are limited. Bank transfers are a hassle for both the payer and the payee and have hefty international fees with little guarantee for either side, which is why they are rarely used. There are payment intermediaries (Paypal being a well-known one), which are popular for micro-payments but not so much for hostel or hotel reservations.

You can look for hostels that are prepared to reserve a room without having your credit card details. They exist, but they're rare.

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My girocard is V-Pay card. So actually, I can use it as US credit card to book/pay in Internet? I'm a bit confused because I've thought it's not possible... –  Lukasz Aug 25 '13 at 13:48
    
@ŁukaszLech It's not a US credit card, it's a V-Pay card. For booking on the Internet, any Visa or Mastercard card will do. In the US, some of these are classified as debit card and not credit card, but the distinction isn't relevant outside the US (at least not in Europe) and rarely in the US either. –  Gilles Aug 25 '13 at 13:52
    
I was trying to do booking with my V-PAY card but I've got a message that my credit card data are invalid. It seems not to be possible to do booking with V-PAY card, at least not in the hostel I was trying. –  Lukasz Aug 29 '13 at 19:20

Gilles' answer is excellent, so I won't try to cover the same points a second time. I'd like to focus on one offhand remark in your question, though:

"I think that bank transfer would be problematic, because international money transfers take a lot of time and cost much [...]"

In some places, that might indeed be the case, although it's getting less and less common. But since Germany and Austria are both within the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) and use the Euro as their national currency, bank transfers between them should not be any slower or more expensive than transfers within each country (i.e. in practice, they should be free and close to instantaneous).

Of course, the booking site you're using might not offer such an option, but you could always contact the hostel directly and ask for their IBAN code in order to make the deposit. I see no reason why they should refuse to do so.

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Sure YOU don't see a reason, but trust me, THEY will ;-) –  PERSONA NON GRATA Aug 25 '13 at 18:23
4  
@MarcelC: Don't knock it until you've tried it. –  Ilmari Karonen Aug 25 '13 at 18:28
    
Right. That point is yours ;-) –  PERSONA NON GRATA Aug 25 '13 at 18:30

I've just succeeded with making a reservation.

Gilles has pointed me in right direction, if the ATM card (Visa or Maestro) has 16-digit number on front, it can be used as credit card in internet, at least it passes validation.

However, I've had to give the number of my second ATM card, issued in Poland (VISA card). With Postbank V-PAY card it wasn't possible. Though that card has V-PAY logo, it doesn't have 16-digit number on the front. It has only 7-digit card number on the back. That number was not accepted!

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You still seem confused about international payment systems. The short version is - if you're paying for things internationally online or in-store, you need a card with either the Visa or Mastercard logo on it (why your Polish card worked). A Maestro, V-PAY, UnionPay, Visa/Plus (this is different to the Visa logo!) card will ONLY work internationally on selected ATMs or in-store payment terminals (match up the logos on the terminal with your card). In most countries, they are referred to as ATM cards, bank cards or keycards instead for this reason. They will not work online internationally. –  Sam Aug 31 '13 at 4:37

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