Home Credit Cards Why I Was Wrong About Needing A Chip + PIN Card For Automated Ticket Machines

Why I Was Wrong About Needing A Chip + PIN Card For Automated Ticket Machines

by joeheg

I’ve read over and over about how it’s necessary to use a card with chip and PIN capability when using automated ticket machines in Europe. It was for that reason alone that I selected the Barclays Arrival+ as the card I would take with me if I could only bring one card with me when traveling internationally. My evidence for that decision was totally anecdotal, as I’d only heard that it was necessary to use a card with a pin for purchases from automated ticket machines.

We just spent a week in Austria and Germany and had to use several automated ticket machines on the trains. Here’s what I discovered when using a chip + PIN card, a chip + signature card and Apple Pay.

The first time I walked up to a machine, I was ready. I brought my chip + PIN card. When asked for payment, I inserted the card and the machine did exactly what I expected, I was asked to type in my PIN. After doing so, our tickets were dispensed. Easy peasy.


Using the Arrival+ card, I earned 2x points for the purchase, which I can use to offset any travel expenses.

However, when purchasing the ticket, I noticed that the screen said that the machine also accepts Apple Pay (and Android Pay). Instead of earning 2x Arrival points, I could be earning 3x Ultimate Rewards by using my Sapphire Reserve.

The next time we needed tickets, I tried to use my phone to pay for the purchase. It took a few tries, but I finally managed to get it to work.


3x Ultimate Rewards is better than 2x cashback. But what if I didn’t have a mobile payment device or a chip + pin card? Could I still buy a ticket from the machine? Might as well find out.

I attempted to buy tickets from the machine with my Citi Premier card. It would earn 3x ThankYou points for travel-related purchases, which subway/train tickets should qualify. I inserted the card when asked and after a few seconds, approved. No pin necessary.


Final Thoughts

Up until now, I had heard that the only way to pay for tickets from an automated machine was to have a card that is chip + PIN enabled. After using the machines, I can say that the newer ones accept contactless payments like Apple Pay or Android Pay. I was also able to use a card without a PIN and didn’t have a problem.

I was traveling in larger cities (Salzburg, Munich, Frankfurt), so I’m not as sure if this will work if you’re going to some smaller towns. I’m betting that most of the people reading this are also going to be visiting the major tourist sites. If that’s the case, you should be fine. If you’re renting a car and need to buy gas or taking a train to some smaller towns, having at least one chip + PIN card with you is still worthwhile. It’s just not the only way you’ll be able to make payments at most locations.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Rufuss C Kingston December 26, 2019 - 4:12 pm

More or less just a post of more anecdotal evidence! This post is only valid for those two countries….

Try this in the Paris subway… 5 years ago it needed a pin…..

Steve December 26, 2019 - 6:51 pm

Interesting. The Citi Prestige doesn’t get 3x on travel however, its the Cit Premier which does.

Morris December 26, 2019 - 7:14 pm

Assume you meant Citi Premier? Prestige does not earn 3X on all travel, nor does it display points accrued per transaction like that.

joeheg December 26, 2019 - 10:55 pm

Correct you are. thanks for catching that one. Fixed.

Will December 27, 2019 - 12:52 am

Recently when traveling through western Switzerland, Western Italy, and Southern France (in major cities and rural areas) I found that a non-pin chip card was sufficient in almost all situations. But there were a couple of parking lot machines that refused to accept anything other than a chip-and-pin card for payment.

So in short, most of the time, pin’s aren’t needed. But there are a few places that require them.

Paul Higgs December 27, 2019 - 7:59 am

The ticket purchase may have worked without the PIN if it was below a certain amount – at an attendantless gas station this would likely not happen.

Kyle December 27, 2019 - 9:37 am

For what it’s worth, my Chase Sapphire Reserve did not work at the automated ticket machines in Brussels last year.

DaninMCI December 27, 2019 - 1:07 pm

Machines all differ so you will have different experiences. Overall a Chip+pin card is the best bet in Europe.

lenin1991 December 27, 2019 - 1:33 pm

> I was also able to use a card without a PIN and didn’t have a problem.

This totally depends whether the kiosk is operating is Online or Offline mode. Kiosks in major cities are often going to be in Online mode, so no PIN needed. But if you need gas at an unattended station in rural Iceland, or in some metro station deep underground, the kiosks have no connectivity, requiring offline PIN support like Barclaycard provides.

Miles December 28, 2019 - 3:37 pm

Hasn’t “Android Pay” been renamed “Google Pay”?

BB December 31, 2019 - 3:39 pm

Well, you wrote “No pin necessary” for € 14.80. Right, but try to buy contactless something more than € 25 without the PIN.


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