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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.

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  • 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
    Jul 10, 2016 at 12:44
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    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
    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
    Jul 10, 2016 at 13:38
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    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. Jul 10, 2016 at 13:51
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    As far as I know, American chip and signature cards do not work for buying a ticket in the machines. Jul 10, 2016 at 17:33

1 Answer 1

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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

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  • "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
    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. Jul 11, 2016 at 6:38

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