I want to use the self-service ticket machines in a French Railway station. I have a US Credit card with a chip ("puce"), but for which (in keeping with US credit card modalities), I don't get asked for a PIN, even when the chip is used.

Can I use this credit card in SNCF self-service machines (either with or without a PIN)?

A related question has previously been asked on this forum (I need some explanation about payment modalities on sncf-voyages.com website), about how to use the ticket retrieval options but all options do mention a PIN and I am wondering about what to do in my case where there is no PIN? Also note that the post is 4 years old and therefore may no longer reflect the current situation.

I'd like to know this for either buying a ticket directly or printing a ticket I would have bought online earlier.

  • Welcome to Travel SE and +1! I have edited your question so that it does not get closed as a duplicate of the linked question and pointed out the differences. Feel free to roll back my edit if you disagree. Also, for your card, do you have / know a PIN and it is just never asked, or do you not even have a PIN for that card?
    – mts
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 12:44
  • 3
    Do you want to buy a ticket at these machines or retrieve a ticket already bought online? My first hint is the former would work, not the latter.
    – Vince
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 13:35
  • @Vince, telling from the version before my rather invasive edit I would guess they want to retrieve a ticket bough online, but only the OP can tell for sure.
    – mts
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 13:38
  • 2
    Thanks Gentlemen. Actually I'd like to know the answer for both cases. I'm especially hoping to hear from someone who has actually tried it recently. Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 13:51
  • 2
    As far as I know, American chip and signature cards do not work for buying a ticket in the machines. Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 17:33

1 Answer 1


Based on this and that help page of voyages-sncf.com, to print your ticket, you only need a chip card (however, the help considers all foreign cards as non-chip cards, probably to avoid complaints):

Si votre carte ne dispose pas de puce (carte American Express ou carte étrangère), nous vous invitons à retirer vos billets auprès d’un vendeur en gare.

These also make a difference between the bornes libre-service and the tellers. In the latter case, you just need to show the card.

In my experience, I know that the ticketing offering the most convenience to print/show proof is the e-ticket option. I strongly recommend you to select the e-ticket (e-billet) option when booking (you might need to sign up for a voyages-sncf.com account). With this, you keep all options open:

  • you can download one of the SNCF mobile applications and show a QR code on the train in case of control (no need to stamp your ticket)
  • you can print this ticket at a "borne libre-service" if your card is accepted (don't forget to stamp your ticket)
  • you can get a printed ticket at any station teller (in big cities' stations there is often a long line) (don't forget to stamp your ticket)

Also what is important to know (write it down on a piece of paper if you are afraid your smartphone's battery dies) is the 6-letter ticket reference. This and your last name are enough to identify a ticket and may be enough to prove to the controller you bought the ticket.

To add to that recommendation, I recently saw a (super rare) case of someone buying a ticket with her mom's credit card. At the small station, the two bornes libre-service were broken and there was no teller. The girl did not have an e-ticket but a ticket that could only be printed on the borne. The controller was nice but he had to call a colleague that could set the status of the ticket as non-cancellable to make sure the ticket was actually validated. So the e-ticket, unless you don't want to have your name on the ticket, is often the preferable option.

And a last note, if you buy tickets with your card, there is a limit of 3 transactions per 24 hours on all bank cards with sncf/voyages-sncf.com

  • "however, the help considers all foreign cards as non-chip cards, probably to avoid complaints" No, it does not. It says that if a card does not have a chip, then it's either AmEx or foreign, which is correct.
    – fkraiem
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 23:49
  • Thanks @vince. The printed electronic ticket + advice about the code is very helpful. I have previously used a Canadian cc in the machines with no problem, so it's definitely not the case that all foreign cards are unworkable. It sounds, however, from earlier comments that US chip+sig is not an option for these machines. Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 6:38

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