Europe’s automated machines will sometimes take your US credit card if you know the card’s PIN number. Freeway tollbooths and automated payment machines at parking garages often give you an option to pay cash.
Every card has one; ask your bank for the number before you leave on your trip. At train stations, you can stand in line at the ticket window and buy your ticket with euros, rather than try to charge it at a machine.
Businesses pay sky-high commissions to credit-card companies; the fees cut deep into the small profits of small places such as B&Bs and restaurants.
Much of Europe has started implementing a chip-and-PIN system, using credit cards that are embedded with a microchip and require a Personal Identification Number (PIN code) for transactions.
The chip-and-PIN system is most commonly used in the British Isles, Scandinavia, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands.Most of Western Europe should be converted to chip-and-PIN cards in 2012 (and Canada will complete its conversion in 2015).