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Credit Cards

Credit Cards: Chip Technology

Credit cards, debit cards, and contactless payment types are widely used throughout Britain and are the easiest way to pay for things. Visa and Mastercard are the most common type of cards, while American Express and Diners Club cards are less commonly accepted. Another option is using a pre-paid travel money card such as a Cash Passport or TransferWise. 

Some small shops, guesthouses, markets, cafés, and takeaways (to go) may not accept cards or may have a minimum spend (usually around £5), so always check in advance of your purchase. Cards that are accepted are often displayed in the windows so you can check before you enter. 

You will probably also incur a currency exchange fee if you use an ATM to draw money out - just check with your bank for details.

Request chip credit and debit cards from your bank before arrival for easier transactions on the economy. Currently, there are 2 types of chip cards:

  • Chip and Pin Cards (Europe & UK): Insert card into machine (rather than swipe) and input pin code.
  • Chip and Signature (US): These can be used just like a chip and pin card, but you must sign a receipt before the transaction is complete.
  • TIP: Some banks will allow you to set up a PIN on chip credit cards and can be used in European credit card readers.

NOTE: The Chip and Signature card may not work in some places off base.  One way around this could be to load your card on to your phone pay app and use that instead if you wish.  Depending on your phone, this could work for Google Pay, Android Pay, or Apple Pay.

  • TIP: It can be useful to carry your own pen and an ID with your signature on it as some cashiers may request this and be less prepared to deal with a signature card. 

Reduced Interest Rates

When deployed or on PCS Orders, Active Duty members may be eligible for reduced interest rates on credit cards. Contact your bank to ask about reduced rates.

Foreign Transaction Fees

When deployed or with a copy of OCONUS PCS Orders, some banks will eliminate the foreign currency transaction fee on credit and/or debit cards (usually 1-2% of purchase price). Contact your bank to learn more.