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Card un-reliability in France, Germany and Austria

Posted by TonyP TonyP
Message 1 of 4 417 Views

I have recently returned from a month in France, Germany and Austria and thought I would report some issues that others may have experienced. It should also be a helpful warning to those about to to go to these countries.

 

I have a platinum mastercard credit account and two cards, one in my name and one in my partner's. Prior to this trip I used my card in Hungary, Austria and Italy in 2015 and it worked fine most of the time (80% plus). At that time and on this recent trip I let Bankwest know I was going and turned off SMS messages for verifications. My card still has a couple of years to run.

 

This time I found: 

 

  • in France my card never worked successfully once, it failed in shops, on metro ticket machines, at museums, restaurants and so on. It was still working fine for internet purchases. My partner's card, which was issued after mine, about three years ago, worked nearly all the time, except on some older metro ticket machines. It was uneven in how it worked, sometimes tapping and going, sometimes tapping but demanding a pin, sometimes demanding to be inserted and then a pin, or even a pin and then a signature. 
    We survivedmy cards failure because hers did work. However, it meant she always had to be there to pay or, if I was on my own, I had to use my Westpac debit card, which always worked everywhere.
    If her card had also not worked in France it really would have been a major problem for our holiday
  • In Austria we almost had a flipped situation, her card worked only about a third of the time, mine nearly all the time, though mostly needing a signature.

  • In Germany we both had around a 50% success rate, though at one point both cards were refused at a shop in Munich airport!

 

My card in Australia has always been flaky. It nearly always works but it has to be inserted, then there is always a demand from the machine to swipe it instead. It never taps and goes.  I don't use it much here because of this.

 

The added difficulty overseas was that the card would report its non-validity on the EFTPOS machines in different ways and of course in the local language, eg. card not valid, pin not valid, account not available and so on. This,  of course, was often happening when I was at the front of a queue. It meant I needed to have plenty of Euros handy or another card to use before the irritation behind began to build.

 

I have no idea if this experience is usual or unusual for Bankwest cards but people travelling with them should be alert to the possibility. I have always thought having a second card with another institution is a good idea and this was certinaly true for this trip.

 

This lack of reliability was very annoying. And not least because when it works the Platinum card does offer benefits of a good exchange rate, no fees and instant notifications.

 

Has anyone else had such issues in Europe or elsewhere?

 

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Re: Card un-reliability in France, Germany and Austria

Posted by MegB MegB
Message 2 of 4 412 Views

Hey Tony, I'm very sorry to hear your card was unreliable while you were in Europe. This is definitely frustrating and I can appreciate the embarrassment declined transactions can cause.

 

From what you've described, it seems as though your card may be slightly damaged. If you could give us a buzz on 13 17 19 or log into your online banking and hit the 'Ask us' button (when using the app) or the 'Message us now' button (if logged into a PC/laptop) at any time, we can easily arrange a replacement for you and your additional card holder if needed.  

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Re: Card un-reliability in France, Germany and Austria

Posted by hillskill hillskill
Message 3 of 4 311 Views

Tony, we have experienced the same in Europe. I am at the moment in discussion with bankwest over the same issues with the unreliability of the platinum mastercard. Last year we could not get either of our cards to work with 2 car hire agencies on arrival in UK. Our cards reported "declined" or "not authorised" and yes there was credit available as we checked in case we had been hacked. We have had exactly the same experiences also in small and large shops in UK and Europe with either cards not working, or to having to sign, or adding pins, or pins and signatures etc. etc. etc. Bankwest keep telling me that it is the retailers' machines that must be at fault! We watched other customers at Europcar last year use their various type credit cards without any problem. We are due to head off to Europe again this year and we are seriously considering applying for a different credit card with a new bank (we have been Bankwest customers for over 25 years) as the inconvenience and the embarrassment is not worth the hassle especially after a very long flight!!!

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Re: Card un-reliability in France, Germany and Austria

Posted by TonyP TonyP
Message 4 of 4 279 Views

Thanks for the reply hillskill, very useful to know of your experience. Seems that, like my partner and I, you had two Bankwest cards and both were unreliable in the UK and Europe.

 

The Bankwest help suggested my card was damaged and I will follow that up and get a replacement and see if that behaves better here in Aust than does the current one.

 

However, this does not fully explain why my card would not work in France but worked most of the time in Austria and Germany, which I went to after France, whereas my partners card went from about 90% success rate in France to less than 50% in Austria.That doesn't seem like a damaged card issue, not least because happened across two cards.

 

This makes me think there may be some systemic issues with how the Mastercard system is reading and authorising Bankwest cards. Europe credit card systems are variable, a place in France where my partner got a refusal was a popup shop using a wireless terminal, tried it three times, each time a long delay and then a refusal. That said her Westpac card then worked like a charm after short delay. An old metro ticket machine on the edge of Paris also refused to accept her card. At other more modern machines, no problems.

 

But it really should not be the case that when shopping at supermarkets or department stores the cards would becoming up not authorised, wrong pin etc. The point of the card is to replace the need to carry cash and to do that it needs to be widely and reliably accepted.

 

I would certainly advise that you take a back-up credit card from another institution, if you can find one that offers the good exchange rates and no fees of the Bankwest card so much the better. Look forward to hearing of your future experiences in Europe.

 

I did notice a number of places in France were taking apple pay but it might a bit too early to rely on it replacing your card...

 

 

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