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BoA Amtrak Rewards MC - chip and pin


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#1 JeanA

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 05:13 AM

Hi, all -

 

The forum search feature doesn't seem to be working so please forgive me if this has been asked before.  I have the Amtrak rewards credit card and have just set a pin # in my account.  Am I good to go for use at terminals in Europe and Canada?  All my research on chip and pin credit cards has only mentioned the Bank of America Travel Rewards Visa card as chip and pin enabled. (Trying the collective experience here before I have to get on the phone with the bank.)

 

Jean


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Home station: NYP

Trips: Sunset Limited LAX-NOL, Crescent NOL-NYP; Southwest Chief ABQ-CHI, Lakeshore Limited CHI-NYP; Crescent NYP-NOL; Maple Leaf NYP-SAR, Ethan Allen Express SAR-NYP;  Vermonter NYP-HFD-NYP; Adirondack NYP-WSP-NYP;

Often: Acela, Northeast Regional, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad

Also Ridden: Saratoga & North Creek Railway, ThamesLink

 


#2 jis

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 06:55 AM

AFAIK the AGR Card is not a Chip and Pin Card. The PIN that you set up would work at ATMs for cash withdrawal only, cash for which you will be paying huge interest rates.



#3 CHamilton

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 08:31 AM

I did some research on this a couple of months ago, in preparation for an upcoming European trip. Jean, jis is correct. There are very few US financial institutions that offer chip and pin cards. Many of the ones that do are credit unions catering to military personnel. Here's a short list.  and here's a more complete database. 

 

I went with First Tech. I've tried it out here in Seattle, and it works as pin only. I'll let you know how well it works in Europe when I return from the trip in a few weeks.


Edited by CHamilton, 06 July 2017 - 08:33 AM.

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#4 JeanA

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 09:43 AM

Thanks - I had a feeling that would be the case.  I'm checking out the FCUs now.  Also, have read that Barclay's rewards card is a true chip and PIN.

 

 


Jean

 

Home station: NYP

Trips: Sunset Limited LAX-NOL, Crescent NOL-NYP; Southwest Chief ABQ-CHI, Lakeshore Limited CHI-NYP; Crescent NYP-NOL; Maple Leaf NYP-SAR, Ethan Allen Express SAR-NYP;  Vermonter NYP-HFD-NYP; Adirondack NYP-WSP-NYP;

Often: Acela, Northeast Regional, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad

Also Ridden: Saratoga & North Creek Railway, ThamesLink

 


#5 PRR 60

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 10:18 AM

Barclay cards, including American Airlines affinity cards, are now true chip and PIN.



#6 SarahZ

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 12:15 PM

AFAIK the AGR Card is not a Chip and Pin Card. The PIN that you set up would work at ATMs for cash withdrawal only, cash for which you will be paying huge interest rates.

 

Correct.

 

My AGR card works fine in Canada. The chip readers don't have any issues.

 

I also make sure to set a Travel Alert on my profile so BoA doesn't decline the charge.


Amtrak Miles: 39,318

 

Amtrak Routes: Blue Water, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Carl Sandburg, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Illinois Zephyr, Lincoln Service, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Wolverine

 

Metropolitan Rail: Chicago Metra, Chicago L, Dallas TRE, Detroit People Mover, New Orleans RTA, San Francisco MUNI, Seattle Monorail, South Shore Line (NICTD), Toronto Subway & RT, Washington DC Metro


#7 jis

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 12:22 PM

Oh yeah. My Chip Cards all worked fine in Europe, Middle East and South Asia. They operated as Chip and Signature Card just as intended. There never was any problem reading the Chip in a Chip enabled terminal. They were just not accepted at Chip and pin only terminals.

 

Of course I prefer to use only those card abroad that charge no exchange fee.


Edited by jis, 06 July 2017 - 12:27 PM.


#8 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 02:23 PM

There are very few US financial institutions that offer chip and pin cards.


In the US there is a continuing profit motive for ignoring credit card fraud. If credit issuers and clearing houses substantially reduced credit fraud it would be much harder to make a case for our punitive credit rates and severe penalties for relatively minor events.

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#9 SarahZ

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 05:04 PM

Of course I prefer to use only those card abroad that charge no exchange fee.

 

I've never even thought about this. Thanks for the heads-up. I'll check my various T&C again.


Amtrak Miles: 39,318

 

Amtrak Routes: Blue Water, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Carl Sandburg, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Illinois Zephyr, Lincoln Service, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Wolverine

 

Metropolitan Rail: Chicago Metra, Chicago L, Dallas TRE, Detroit People Mover, New Orleans RTA, San Francisco MUNI, Seattle Monorail, South Shore Line (NICTD), Toronto Subway & RT, Washington DC Metro


#10 PRR 60

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 05:13 PM

 

Of course I prefer to use only those card abroad that charge no exchange fee.

 

I've never even thought about this. Thanks for the heads-up. I'll check my various T&C again.

 

 

The Bank of America AGR card does not have foreign transaction fees. 



#11 SarahZ

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 05:55 PM

Thanks, PRR 60.

 

I just checked my Chase cards. The Sapphire does not have a fee, but the Freedom has a 3% fee.

 

Now I know which one(s) to leave home. :)


Edited by SarahZ, 06 July 2017 - 05:55 PM.

Amtrak Miles: 39,318

 

Amtrak Routes: Blue Water, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Carl Sandburg, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Illinois Zephyr, Lincoln Service, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Wolverine

 

Metropolitan Rail: Chicago Metra, Chicago L, Dallas TRE, Detroit People Mover, New Orleans RTA, San Francisco MUNI, Seattle Monorail, South Shore Line (NICTD), Toronto Subway & RT, Washington DC Metro


#12 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 06:55 PM

The card issuer is not technically capable of avoiding foreign transaction fees. Those fees are assessed by the transaction processor and not the card issuer. What some banks do is simply absorb the foreign transaction cost in exchange for an annual account maintenance fee and/or an altered currency exchange spread.

If I had a tumor I'd name it Marla.


#13 zephyr17

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 07:49 PM

The BOA Guest Rewards card does not charge or pass through a foreign transaction fee.  Whether it isn't charged or BOA absorbs it is immaterial to me, as long as I don't have to pay it.

 

The card works as a chip-and-signature card, and works fine almost everywhere in Canada.  I said almost because it does not work at the Montreal Metro ticket kiosks, which only work with a true chip-and-pin.


SP Coast Daylight, AT&SF San Diegan, AT&SF Super Chief, D&RGW Rio Grande Zephyr, Southwest Limited/Chief, San Diegan/Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin, Cascades, California/San Francisco Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Sunset Limited (LA-Orlando), Desert Wind, Pioneer, City of New Orleans, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Lake Shore Limited, Cardinal, Hoosier State (Amtrak),  Hoosier State (Iowa Pacific), Ann Rutledge, Adirondack, Maple Leaf, NE Regional, Capitol Limited, Via Canadian (CP route), Via Super Continental, Via Atlantic Limited, Via Hudson Bay, Via Skeena, Via Canadian (CN route), Via "Corridor" (Toronto-Montreal), BC Rail Cariboo Dayliner, Eurostar, Thalys, DB, Netherlands Rail, Austrian Railways, BR, Korail (conventional), Korail KTX


#14 willem

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 08:13 AM

The card issuer is not technically capable of avoiding foreign transaction fees. Those fees are assessed by the transaction processor and not the card issuer. What some banks do is simply absorb the foreign transaction cost in exchange for an annual account maintenance fee and/or an altered currency exchange spread.

 

Please say more about "an altered currency exchange spread." I was under the impression that Visa has an exchange rate (changing periodically, perhaps minute by minute, but fixed at any instant) for a given pair of currencies, and a card with with the Visa logo used that rate (and similarly for Mastercard). If true, then every Visa card would have the same exchange rate for purchases processed at the same time. Did I misunderstand? If so, wouldn't a bank be free to use the "altered currency exchange spread" on a premium card? How would the consumer, before applying for a card, find what currency exchange a bank chose to use?



#15 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 11:33 AM

The card issuer is not technically capable of avoiding foreign transaction fees. Those fees are assessed by the transaction processor and not the card issuer. What some banks do is simply absorb the foreign transaction cost in exchange for an annual account maintenance fee and/or an altered currency exchange spread.

 
Please say more about "an altered currency exchange spread." I was under the impression that Visa has an exchange rate (changing periodically, perhaps minute by minute, but fixed at any instant) for a given pair of currencies, and a card with with the Visa logo used that rate (and similarly for Mastercard). If true, then every Visa card would have the same exchange rate for purchases processed at the same time. Did I misunderstand?


Many people assume that a foreign currency transaction will be processed at the public interbank rate in effect for that date and time. The reality is that 99.99% of consumer transactions are far too small to be exchanged on their own. Foreign exchange markets typically handle transactions priced in the hundreds of thousands of units, so unless you just purchased a yacht or supercar your card transaction starts out as a synthetic event that is recorded and timestamped and then set aside to be grouped together with thousands of other transactions. The foreign currency exchange can occur on the open market or as part of a private interbank transaction. It might happen seconds after you walk away or it might sit in a queue for hours or even days until an algorithm decides it's time to move the money around. You control the timing of your purchase or debit but your bank is able to control the time and venue of the actual exchange. This divergence between what you see and what actually happens behind the scenes is partly due to practical considerations but it also allows the bank to manipulate the outcome in their favor if they play their cards right.

The lowest possible international transaction fee for customers with bank accounts priced in a primary exchange currency is around 1%, so the amount the bank needs to recover from the spread is minor by consumer standards but huge in the context of the financial industry. Most of the world's currencies do not have a direct exchange mechanism between them, so if you're moving money between Mexico and Malaysia you're actually exchanging money twice with an intermediary currency in the middle. If you live and work in a country like that you may have difficulty finding a credit card that is willing to absorb all of the foreign transaction fees. The bigger the bank the better the opportunity to manipulate the spread. Consider a large multinational bank with pending transactions of similar amounts heading in both directions between two currencies. A bank of this size may only need to exchange the variance while the bulk of the money remains right where it started without ever being exchanged at all. The rules about this are tricky and tedious and vary from country to country but this is just an example to help you understand just how deep this rabbit hole can go.

 

If so, wouldn't a bank be free to use the "altered currency exchange spread" on a premium card? How would the consumer, before applying for a card, find what currency exchange a bank chose to use?


So far as I am aware it's not possible for an American consumer to know this in advance. It's not even possible to know precisely what happened after the fact. All you have to go on is how much money you received (or was paid on your behalf) and how much was taken out of (or charged to) your account. Everything else is mostly opaque and largely unknowable. In fact it's possible that your foreign transaction might end up being grouped with a particularly advantageous exchange that occurred hours or even days prior to your arrival. I've been trying to figure this out for a while now and the more I dig the more I realize just how little we know about how this all works behind the scenes.

Edited by Devil's Advocate, 07 July 2017 - 08:28 PM.

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#16 me_little_me

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 02:04 PM

 

There are very few US financial institutions that offer chip and pin cards.


In the US there is a continuing profit motive for ignoring credit card fraud. If credit issuers and clearing houses substantially reduced credit fraud it would be much harder to make a case for our punitive credit rates and severe penalties for relatively minor events.

 

As much as I trust the banks as far as I can throw them, there are other reasons. If their level of loss is below that of the costs to change and maintain the new system, then justifying the change is tough.

 

If you owned a store and always came up a dollar short each day, but had to pay an auditor $1000, it generally wouldn't be worth the effort.



#17 desertflyer

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 02:32 PM

I've had quite a few problems with BoA declining transactions abroad on the AGR card. I've had intermittently blocked transactions transactions in Mexico, Colombia, and Vietnam. BoA never has any record of the transactions being blocked, but I literally never have a problem with my Chase Sapphire Reserve. Be sure to have a backup card.



#18 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 02:41 PM

There are very few US financial institutions that offer chip and pin cards.


In the US there is a continuing profit motive for ignoring credit card fraud. If credit issuers and clearing houses substantially reduced credit fraud it would be much harder to make a case for our punitive credit rates and severe penalties for relatively minor events.


As much as I trust the banks as far as I can throw them, there are other reasons. If their level of loss is below that of the costs to change and maintain the new system, then justifying the change is tough. If you owned a store and always came up a dollar short each day, but had to pay an auditor $1000, it generally wouldn't be worth the effort.


The US is estimated to be responsible for roughly one third of the world's credit card fraud. We're talking 5% of the world's population suffering 33% of the world's credit fraud. And it's only been getting worse over time. The tools to fix this problem are well understood and are relatively cheap compared to the cost of doing nothing. But being able to explain away loan shark level usury rates to a proudly ignorant populace is a powerful disincentive to doing anything about it. These days we're actually combining the worst of both worlds by deploying expensive new POS hardware for use with NFC devices and yet leaving most of the new security tools either half implemented or completely disabled.

If I had a tumor I'd name it Marla.


#19 jis

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 04:32 PM

Sometimes I wonder what proportion of the GDP of the United States is fraudulent transactions. ;) Certain parts of the society seems to pride itself in figuring out how to stretch the rules beyond the rbeaking point, and many of those seem to be in positions of power these days.



#20 JeanA

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 06:35 AM

 

it does not work at the Montreal Metro ticket kiosks, which only work with a true chip-and-pin.
That ^ is exactly why I went down the chip and PIN rabbit hole in the first place - I want to be able to buy my metro ticket at a kiosk at Trudeau.  I will probably wind up using cash since I'm in no rush to apply for a new credit card.

 


Jean

 

Home station: NYP

Trips: Sunset Limited LAX-NOL, Crescent NOL-NYP; Southwest Chief ABQ-CHI, Lakeshore Limited CHI-NYP; Crescent NYP-NOL; Maple Leaf NYP-SAR, Ethan Allen Express SAR-NYP;  Vermonter NYP-HFD-NYP; Adirondack NYP-WSP-NYP;

Often: Acela, Northeast Regional, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad

Also Ridden: Saratoga & North Creek Railway, ThamesLink

 





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