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I am the proud recipient of a brand new, EMV-equipped Visa Debit card through my financial institution -- this card is capable of being used for PIN debit/EFTPOS, signature debit, and ATM transactions, at least in the North American senses of the terms. However, can such a card support EMV chip-and-PIN debit transactions for use overseas in areas where magnetic stripe PIN debit/EFTPOS is no longer supported, or is it limited to chip-and-signature for chip transactions?

Note: our question about credit cards is different because it covers North American EMV credit card products -- which do not support PIN debit/EFTPOS or the full panoply of ATM transactions. A Visa signature debit (Check Card) product supports not only signature debit (i.e. credit card like), but PIN debit/EFTPOS and ATM (bank card like) transactions as well. I'm concerned about all usage contexts (such as foreign ATMs and automated kiosks that do not have the ability to accept a chip and signature transaction), not just a card-present/manned environment where chip-and-signature fallback is an option, as well.

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  • @MichaelHampton -- not a dupe! This is a Visa Debit card we're talking about here, NOT a credit card! – UnrecognizedFallingObject Dec 11 '16 at 3:59
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    Unfortunately, the answer is exactly the same. If you'd like, I'm sure we can copy and paste it. – Michael Hampton Dec 11 '16 at 4:00
  • @MichaelHampton -- not in all cases (ATMs can't accept signature trans, nor can other types of payment-accepting automated kiosks) – UnrecognizedFallingObject Dec 11 '16 at 4:03
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    @UnrecognizedFallingObject I can't speak for the rest of Europe but, in the UK, using a credit card is absolutely identical to using a debit card. Apart from the fact that the terminal says what kind of card it's reading, the shopkeeper would have no idea whether you just paid by credit or debit, without inspecting your card. – David Richerby Dec 11 '16 at 9:51
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If you have a VISA check card then when used overseas it uses the credit card network.

These cards typically have:

  1. Embossed lettering
  2. Visa dove hologram
  3. VISA logo
  4. Expiry Date, also in embossed (raised) lettering
  5. CVV number on the back, after the signature pad (although it may be omitted on some cards, and you may have to login online to your Internet Banking application and retrieve it).

You can do all transactions abroad (as long as you have CHIP+PIN enabled***), which include point-of-sale transactions, ATM cash withdrawals and balance inquiry (but nothing else, for example, you can't change your PIN at an ATM), and use them at kiosks if supported.

*** - some banks require online PIN verification and these cards do not work on many automated kiosks, and (very rarely) on point-of-sale terminals. Check with your bank and ensure card has online and offline PIN verification enabled. You may also have to inform your bank that you are traveling in order to enable the card for international transactions; further you may want to (at least once) use the card at a bank-owned ATM; as sometimes this is required to enable all the features and really "activate" the card.

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USA issued Visa /MasterCard debit cards / check cards, as well as USA issued credit cards are almost exclusively chip & signature cards. Some banks issue a chip & pin credit card for their business customers that travel abroad, but these are the rare exception not the rule.

Your debit / check card comes with a PIN, but that PIN is for use in ATMs and USA based pin-debit systems (such as what your local grocery store has). It will not work in foreign pin based debit systems.

When you travel overseas, your debit / check card should be used as a credit card not debit card. This determination is normally automatic by the system, but occasionally a clerk will ask you "debit or credit" and you should always choose credit.

Your debit / check card will work in 95%+ of card terminals around the world, be they swipe, chip & signature or chip & pin. Some notable exceptions to this are automated bus / tram ticket kiosks in Europe, where for some reason the designers did not consider that foreigners might be using them and set them up to work exclusively with European style chip & pin cards. But I have found that you can usually find someone willing to take your cash and buy a ticket for you with their card, so no need to stress about it.

So yes, your chip & signature debit / check card will work in most situations outside the USA, but No, it can not be converted to a chip & pin, it will always operate as a chip & signature.

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