Well I have spent another week in Norway and it has been spent mainly at work. During the week I really will not have much free time I can tell. But that doesn't mean I can't take the time to notice the small things. Here are some of the things I have noticed, and a trip I took to a more remote region of Norway for work.
First thing is first. Europe, and the majority of the rest of the world, is on a different point of sale system than the US. For their credit and debit card transactions they use a "Chip and Pin" system. This system does not require you to swipe your card in order for the merchant to get your bank information. Instead a "Chip and Pin" card requires you to enter in your pin into a microprocessor that hashes it through a decryption algorithm to spit out a result. If the pin was the correct pin then it will release your bank information to the vendor. That of course is an overly simplified explanation of the system and infact may still be wrong. In order to be more educated you can read about the system HERE. To the point though this system drastically cuts down on "hackers" stealing your card information right off the magnetic strip. BUT being in the good old US of A we are late to the ship on this one. WHY? Because we were one of the original adopters of the point of sale system meaning our entire infrastructure (every gas-station, store, atm, and ice-cream stand) was built on older technology. In order to switch over it is going to cost billions of dollars. About $9 billion roughly.
So what is the point of me writing all of this? In order to tell you if you are an American planning on travelling to Europe or anywhere that uses the "Chip and Pin" system, plan ahead. Either get your bank or credit company to issue a chip enabled card, or get a pre-paid card that you can transfer money onto.
If neither of those are a viable option for you then there is still the possibility of using the traditional swipe and sign method. However most cashiers / places don't even remember how to do it from my experience. After many failed attempts to pay with card and having to resort to cash, I finally figured out the trick. Swipe your card as you normally would into the machine depicted below instead of sliding your card in like show.
|"Chip and Pin" reader or more formally EMV|
Then when the system asks you for your pin number..... don't panic. Simply hit the RED button telling the system that you are instead from america and laugh at danger. Then it will ask you if you really want to sign for the transaction instead. Hit the green okay button letting it know that yes you are aware you are susceptible to credit card fraud, and wallah! You can now tell the cashier how to handle the next American that walks through the door. Fear not though you will likely only have to worry about this until October of 2015 when a large portion of US companies are planning to switch over.