The Magic of Apple Pay
Here’s a tip, add your favorite travel credit card to your wallet on Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. It can save you a lot of headaches with PIN numbers and chip issues while traveling.
Chip and PIN vs Swipe and Sign
The USA still relies on the antiquated system of swiping and signing when most of the world has adopted the chip and pin. We are finally migrating to the pin, but there is still the useless act of autographing little strips of paper that really don’t secure anything. I entertain myself by trying to sign something different every single time and so far, no one has ever noticed.
This swiping, signing, chipping, pinning nonsense causes a lot of trouble when using a card overseas. Almost all the rest of the world used some type of chip and pin or even contactless NFC cards. Automated machines that can’t take a signature require a credit card PIN to complete the transaction. If you card doesn’t have a PIN, you’re out of luck and will have to use a debit card. I’ve had marginal success requesting a PIN for my credit card to use while traveling but not all cards will do that. Most foreign merchants are used to Americans having to sign.
I hate carrying cash and try to use a credit cards for everything. Why miss out on all those points!? I get a better exchange rate with a good travel card and don’t want to gamble with ATM fees and bank exchange rates. Even though my bank doesn’t charge me anything to withdraw cash, the ATM can add anywhere from 1-20% to my withdrawal, like a really shitty slot machine.
Apple Pay to the Rescue
Apple pay has been incredibly useful while traveling. For some reason I never feel compelled to use it at home but in other countries, I feel like I’m performing a magic trick when paying for things. Many places around the world use contactless cards or chip cards. Their credit card terminals allow you to pay either way. With Apple Pay, it solves the PIN problem because your phone’s passcode works as your PIN.
You can pay with Apple Pay or Samsung Pay anywhere you see a contactless terminal with the following icon.
All you do is put your phone near the card reader, enter your PIN and you’re done. Bonus points if the country you’re in has never seen Apple Pay before. A lot of countries use contactless cards but not Apple Pay or Samsung Pay yet. It can be a bit tough to convince a shopkeeper that the random American is going to pay with a phone. There’s usually a lot of skepticism as though you’re a con artist but as soon as it goes through, their face changes into shock and they look at you like a time traveler from the future. It’s usually followed up with a comment like “Wow, that’s so amazing, our country is so behind!” When in reality we are even further behind but Apple has kindly allowed us to pay like we’re in 2018.