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Some sources on the Internet warn that French motorway toll machines might expect chip-and-PIN VISA cards as payment, and reject US chip-and-signature VISA cards. However, other, more recent sources claim that this might have been the case before July 2015. And, supposedly, after that date new VISA rules required all terminals in Europe to accept chip-and-signature VISA cards as well.

So, can anyone please confirm the current state of affairs with regard to that matter? Do unattended motorway toll machines in France normally accept US chip-and-signature VISA cards? What about merchants in general?

  • Merchants are not a problem; the usual machine has a swipe back-up. I don't know about the unattended machines at toll gates, parking garages, etc. – Andrew Lazarus Jul 10 '17 at 23:31
  • Note that unlike machines at train stations, petrol stations, parking garages, etc., motorway toll machines in France do not require you to type a PIN or sign at all. – Relaxed Jul 11 '17 at 6:53
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Personal experience: It depends. I was able to use my Canadian card on some highway tolls (A7 Lyon-Marseille) but not others (A8 Orange-Nice)

The safest bet is to choose a lane with booth attendants that can accept cash in case the card is refused.

Most merchants will be fine with any card, but I've also had automated gas pumps refuse my card.

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I have used my US visa card on multiple French motor ways in 2016 and 2017, without any issues.
I don't think they care; it works fine with the magnetic strip.

The same is true in parking garages and any shops I tried - supermarkets, bakeries, restaurants, etc.

  • It is upto your bank to allow or deny a swipe transaction - so you are right, the French don't care - its your bank. – Burhan Khalid Jul 11 '17 at 5:33
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    @BurhanKhalid It is not that simple. The crucial detail here is that these machines generally work (or used to work) offline, without immediate network access. They can't request immediate confirmation from the bank. They simply accumulate sweep data, which is later offloaded and proccessed in batches in some central office. This was supposedly the reason such offline terminals required higher level of user authentication, like a PIN. – AnT Jul 15 '17 at 11:01

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