Use Visa Credit Card in Australia ~ Travel Currency Tips
VISA chip cards in Australia - Debit, Credit or Charge?
On a recent rip to Australia I had problems when trying to use my Visa chip card: it was declined in a chip card machine.
And that set off a time consuming chain of events that cut into my travel time and caused me no end of concern for a few days. Here's what happened.
I mention it here to save other travelers to Australia (and for all I know other countries as well) the hassle of using a Visa credit card if you aren't aware of the differences between Debit, Credit and Charge.
Visa Chip Card Declined! I had done everything right, IMHO: Before I left for a 2 month trip Down Under, so to speak, I had called Visa in Toronto to let them know where I would be using the card over the coming months, and that it was indeed me, and to please not Decline it.
When Visa chip cards were first introduced, they had some issues with being declined when used internationally. This had been resolved, I was told. I also arranged for a pre-authorized payment of statements while I was away, as I prefer not to access banking sites from computers not my own.
As well, the helpful Visa person also set a daily limit OTHER THAN HOTEL to further protect my account. I was good to go, I was assured.
What Went Wrong For a few weeks, I did not need to use my VISA chip card so I was blissfully unaware of what was in store. One fine Saturday morning in Sydney Australia, I offered my Visa card to pay for brunch for me and a friend.
Declined, says the cash person. Try again, says I, feeling a knot start to form in my stomach. Nope, Declined again. Hmmmmmmm. So I pulled out my AMEX card and the charge went through. And I was left to sort out on a long weekend what had happened in the intervening weeks that caused Visa not to accept charges to my card.
Contacting Visa After 3 days trying to get through to the Visa Call Collect number listed on the back of the card (this is a whole other issue - see Visa Call Collect USA- Canada international), I was told that no charge requests had come through to Visa.
All attempts to use the card are recorded by Visa, I was told, whether they are accepted or declined would be logged. As far as Visa was concerned, no attempts had been made to use my card, and all was well with my account.
Hmmm. Had the restaurant used the wrong security code? No, it would still have shown on Visa. So what the heck was happening with the chip card machines?
Debit Credit or Charge is the key on Visa Chip Cards in Australia: A week later, again in Sydney, I profferred my Visa card to another retailer with a chip card terminal, who asked me, "Is this debit or credit?" Hmm. Never been asked that before. It's a Visa credit card, so I said, "Credit."
Declined. Shoot! Not again! Visa said I was good to go, which gave me the confidence to say to the cashier, "Try again, I just checked with Visa and this card is good." With that, I went up to the terminal with her, and had a look at the options.
There were three buttons: Debit, Credit, Charge. I had never seen these options before, though I knew that some Visa cards could be preloaded and used as debit cards. The cashier had tried Debit, then Credit: both options returned a Declined message.
"Try 'Charge'," said I, assuming it's a charge card as far as I am concerned.
BINGO! The card went through. Apparently Visa cards in Australia (and again, who knows where else in the world this may occur) are set up for the three options.