Chip-and-PIN dilemma

This item appears on page 16 of the August 2010 issue.

In Europe, my husband, Jim, and I use our US-issued credit union debit card to make withdrawals from ATMs. We seldom use charge cards and mostly operate with the local currency.

When the ATM is outside a bank, everything works perfectly, but when banks have the machines inside a vestibule between the sidewalk and the bank lobby — and the outside door is locked — the only way you can enter to access the ATM is if you have a chip-and-PIN card.

Our debit card, with a PIN but no chip, does not work on the vestibule door locks!

The last time this happened, in Greece in 2008, we had to stop a passerby and ask if he had a card which could open the door. Fortunately, he not only spoke English but thought the whole thing was a lark and happily gave us access to the ATM.


Tempe, AZ