Essentials > Money Matters > Credit Cards 

You'll get the best exchange rate by using your credit/debit card for purchases or cash advances from automated bank tellers (distributeurs de billets). Be sure you know your 4-digit code and the maximum daily withdrawal allowance before leaving home. Your own bank may charge €1-€2 per transaction. It’s also a good idea to notify your bank of your trip so they don’t think your card has been stolen and deactivate it.

Note: French cash dispensers accept most international bank cards. If yours doesn’t seem to be working at any of the cash machines, don’t give up. Try the BNP Paribas Lutèce (72 Rue Monge, 5th M° Monge), which seems to accept even the most obscure cards. If you have a high withdraw limit (ie $1000) but can't find a cash machine that will give you more than €200-€300 at a time, try the BNP Paribas Vendôme (in the passage at 7, Place Vendôme, 1st, M° Tuileries or Concorde).

Carte Bleue (French affiliate of Visa) and MasterCard (aka EuroCard) are the most widely accepted credit cards in France, with JCB and Diners Club also widely accepted. Because of the high commission fees, American Express is usually only accepted in larger stores and expensive restaurants; always ask in advance.

French credit cards work differently than American cards when making purchases (they have a microchip that recognizes their PIN instead of the “swipe and sign” method), so don’t be surprised if cashiers take a bit longer figuring out how to ring up your purchases.

Lost Cards

  • MasterCard, 08 00 90 13 87 (France)
  • Visa, 08 00 90 11 79 (France) or collect 1 410 581 9994.
  • American Express, call collect 1 336 393 1111.
  • Diners Club, call collect 1 303 799 1504.

Traveler's Checks 

These can be cumbersome to exchange and commissions are high in the Bureaux de Change found in airports, department stores and near major tourist sights. If you want an emergency back-up in case your credit card doesn’t work, exchange them at the American Express Office (11 Rue Scribe, 9th M° Opéra, Tel 01 47 77 77 58; also at both Paris airports). They exchange traveler’s checks from any issuer without commission, and are open Monday-Saturday 9am-6:30 pm (until 5:30pm on Saturday).

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