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Million Mile Secrets reader, Peter, commented:
I am looking for a “true” chip-and-PIN card to use in Europe next year. I have a chip-and-PIN card issued by the Andrews Federal Credit Union. But I have had numerous customer dissatisfaction issues with them and would like to find another chip-and-PIN card, not just a chip-and-signature card.
Do you know if that is true?
As I discovered on my trip to Iceland, if you’re traveling to Europe, bringing a credit card with chip-and-PIN capability could be the difference between happily driving to your next destination and being stuck on the side of the road.
That’s because many vending machines, train stations, and gas pumps in Europe only work with chip-and-PIN technology.
What’s the Difference Between Chip-and-PIN & Chip-and-Signature?
When you pay with a chip-and-signature card, you’ll need to sign to verify your purchase. This works fine in the US, but many unmanned machines in Europe instead ask for a PIN to complete your transaction.
Chip-and-PIN cards require you to enter a pre-set PIN that’s coded into the chip of your card. This gives you added security and it’s more widely accepted in Europe. You can find a list of true chip-and-PIN cards here. Unfortunately, these aren’t the cards we use to earn miles and points.
However, the Barclaycard Arrival and Barclaycard Arrival Plus cards come with chip-and-Signature AND chip-and-PIN capability. This means you’ll still sign for your purchases. And at kiosks, ticket centers, or unattended gas stations in Iceland where a signature isn’t possible, you can enter your PIN.
Why the Barclaycard Arrival Plus Card May Be a Better Option!
When you sign-up for the Barclaycard Arrival card and spend $1,000 on purchases within the 1st 90 days of opening your account, you’ll earn 20,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles. That’s worth $100 in statement credits or ~$210 when you redeem for travel purchases of $25 or more.
Other perks include:
- 2X Arrival miles on travel and dining
- No foreign transaction fees
- No annual fee
But with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card, you’ll earn a larger 40,000 Arrival mile bonus when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. That’s worth up to ~$420 towards your next getaway (when you make travel purchases of $100+)!
Keep in mind, Barclaycard Arrival miles are worth 1 cent each when you redeem them for travel purchases. But you’ll get 5% of your miles back as a rebate when you redeem them.
That’s why the 40,000 mile sign-up bonus is worth ~$420 towards travel purchases (40,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles = $400 in travel, plus 2,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles = $20 from the 5% rebate).
Plus, you’ll get:
- 2X Arrival miles on ALL purchases
- No foreign transaction fees
So with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card, you’ll earn DOUBLE the sign-up bonus you’ll get with the Barclaycard Arrival card. And you’ll earn 2X miles on all your spending instead of in only 2 categories.
There’s an $89 annual fee, but it’s waived the 1st year. So Peter could give the card a try for ~10 months. If he decides it’s worth paying the annual fee, he can hang onto the card. I happily pay the annual fee on certain cards each year!
Otherwise, he can call Barclaycard to cancel. You won’t be pressured to keep the card. At most, the bank will offer to waive your fee or give you bonus miles to keep the card open.
Or he could downgrade to the Barclaycard Arrival with no annual fee. He’d miss out on the 20,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles sign-up bonus, but he’d keep his credit line open which can help his credit score.
Many unmanned kiosks in Europe such as train ticket centers, gas pumps, and vending machines only accept chip-and-PIN cards. And most US cards don’t have true chip-and-PIN technology, yet.
However, cards like the Barclaycard Arrival and Arrival Plus have chip-and-PIN capability. So when signature isn’t available, they’ll default to PIN. This worked very well for me during my trip to Iceland.
The Barclaycard Arrival card is great because it has no annual fee.
But it may be worth giving the Barclaycard Arrival Plus a try instead because you’ll earn a larger sign-up bonus and more Barclaycard Arrival miles on your everyday spending.
Plus, the annual fee is waived for the 1st year, so it doesn’t cost you anything to give it a try!
I hope that helps, Peter! Thanks for your question!