Using the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite PIN Feature in Europe! OFFER EXPIRED!

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One of the big issues that travelers from the United States have historically had to face when they travel to Europe is that our credit cards were swipe and sign, but chip and PIN credit cards were predominately used in Europe.  Then in recent years many of the US credit cards that we know and love added a chip feature that made them easier to use in Europe, but that still left some situations where pins were required and most of our cards did not have that feature.  I know I have been stuck before at a machine in Canada trying to get a train ticket and I didn’t have a credit card with a PIN that would work.


On our most recent trip to Europe I finally got to pack a credit card that had not only earns 2x on everything and has no foreign transaction fees, but also has a PIN feature – this card was the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.

My experience using that card at most retailers in Spain was exactly the same as my other chip enabled US credit cards as the card would work fine in their machines, but it would still print out the slip for a signature as it isn’t a true chip and PIN card, but rather a chip and signature + PIN feature card.  That typically is no big deal, at least at the places I visited.  However, it was a problem once when a clothing retailer wanted me to promise it worked with a PIN before accepting it, which I said it did, but then the machine printed out the signature sheet anyway and the retailer was not amused.  Lesson learned – it only defaults to the PIN option only when the signature option isn’t available at all, such as at kiosks.

Heading to the Metro in Madrid

Heading to the Metro in Madrid


The real upside to PIN feature came when we needed to buy Metro tickets in both Madrid and Barcelona at the automated machines in the stations.  Both places accepted cards for Metro tickets, but they both asked for the PIN number which I (for the first time ever) finally had.  I know it is silly to be excited about something so simple, but after not having a good solution for that dilemma on previous trips, I was ecstatic to be able to use one of my everyday rewards credit cards at an automated machine in Europe thanks the PIN feature!

PIN Feature Success!

PIN Feature Success!


I hope that other popular rewards credit cards that are clearly designed with travelers in mind will adopt the PIN feature in the near future, but until then the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® worked great for me, and it is the card I recommend for international travel to destinations that use the PIN functionality!

I do want to mention that the Barclaycard site says that “if you choose to customize your PIN, your new PIN will not take effect for foreign transactions until you use your chip card at a chip-card terminal with a cashier. This first transaction will activate your customized PIN. You’ll then be able to use the chip-and-PIN feature at unattended terminals overseas.”  So, be sure to use it somewhere else first with the signature feature if you set your own pin number!

Have you traveled internationally with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite card?  How did the PIN feature work for you?



Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. What is the best way to get a metro ticket in Madrid or Barca if you don’t have a chip + pin card? Atm withdraw with a arm/debit card and use cash? Curious since I’ll be heading then at the beginning of next year.

  2. Yes! This is exactly why we got this card last fall. Our daughter and her family (husband and 2 year old) live in Germany and we visit fairly often and then travel around Europe on our own. We love trains and other public transportation- and you need a chip and pin card. Worked with signature most places and with the pin when needed. Fantastic! We need all cards to work this way!

  3. I really want to understand what is the value of a Chip+Signature card. I assume the chip is supposed to add security to the card but if someone get access to my card all they have to do is to swipe it and sign whatever they want on the signature sheet and the transaction will be accepted. With the Chip+PIN the card is useless if someone tries to use it but does not have the PIN. Am I missing something? Every time I use my US credit cards in Europe people look at me as I come from a different planet since signature for a credit card transaction is from the Stone Age.

    • I was actually just in Spain- most of them validated my signature against the back of my credit card (and a few checked an ID for another comparison).

      • @Brandon: Maybe that varies country by country. I spent almost 40 days in Italy this year in 4 different trips and used my US credit cards for almost everything. Not once someone checked the signature on the back of my card with the one I signed on the paper.

  4. On a similar note, the US Airways Barclays card is shortly getting automatically converted to the new Barclays Red Card, and my understanding is that that card is also Chip & Signature (with PIN as a backup). I guess I’ll know for sure when I get my new card sometime in the next few weeks. No foreign transaction fee and, through June 30, 1.5x AA miles.

    On an unrelated note, a few days ago I got 1.05 (Euro vs. dollar). Whee!

  5. I’ve always used my Wells Fargo debit card (without chip) at kiosks, gas stations, etc. in Europe and Oceanea. Using my ATM PIN works well, and the only drawback is the 3% or whatever foreign transaction fee. I’ve used the Barclaycard Arrival+ and had identical results to yours.

    I find the Arrival+ to be a reasonably decent card, but I don’t personally find it to be particularly rewarding. And since you’d have to spend just less than $3k in kiosks before the $89 annual fee is offset by foreign transaction fees, that benefit alone probably doesn’t make the card worthwhile.

  6. The Barclay’s Arrival saved our bacon in the middle of New Zealand where the only gas station we could find was a totally automated pump requiring a Card with a PIN. It would have saved us a lot of stress in France on a Sunday about 8 years ago when we couldn’t find an open ATTENDED gas station. We finally found one. In both cases, we probably would have made our destination but on fumes. So, for that reason alone, I’m keeping the Arrival card. It has made life at automated Train and Metro kiosks so much better, too.

  7. We were so disappointed that arrival didn’t work at all in Italy at small unattended gas stations. This was last fall. It just wouldn’t process since it’s not PIN by default. This was at 8-10 different stations.

  8. Has anyone tried the Barclay Arrival Chip + PIN (or a regular debit card) at a French motorway toll booth?? (Oh, the horror stories!!)

    • Just got back from France. Used the Arrival+ quite a few times at the automated booths on the A64. Worked great. Didn’t ask for PIN or anything else. I guess it was always below some minimum.

  9. I thought the pin was only if you wanted to withdraw money from an ATM overseas or if the charge went through with the pin, it would count as a cash advance?

    I am going on a family trip to London, Paris, Switzerland in April. I called Citi (Thank You Premier) and Bank Of America (Travel Rewards) and they both said I don’t need a pin unless i need to withdraw money which will count as a cash advance, and all I have to do is put the card into the machine to read the chip.

    Can someone please clarify? Do I need to set up a pin with the above 2 cards then? Or how does that Barclay Arrival card differ? Thanks!

    • This is a bit different as it is for use with chip and pin machines. Most U.S. Issued cards don’t have this option, but it is very useful when traveling overseas.

      • Hmm…not sure if you misunderstood my post. The cards I mentioned above (Citi Thank You Premier and Bank of America Travel Rewards) both have a chip on it. I called to ask about the pin and they said I don’t need it unless I’m withdrawing money. Hence, my question in the previous post inquiring how the Barclay arrival chip is ‘different’, if at all…

        • Before the end of the year ALL credit cards will roll out chips. The chip is not the special part of the equation (and your question). Simply stated there are 2 kinds of chip credit cards. One processes transactions by reading the chip (same info as on the magnetic stripe) but REQUIRES a signature to complete the transaction. Let’s call that the USA way – it’s replacing the current version of mag stripe cards which are ‘swipe and sign’. The Barclays Arrival+ is a “hybrid” version that complex with USA regulations by being a ‘chip and signature’ AND allows you to do ‘chip and pin’ when it is the only method of processing the transaction (like at non staffed train ticket kicks). It DEFAULTS to chip and pin in that scenario. Same card in a staffed kiosk would by default spit out a signature receipt. Make sense now? I was confused until I used mine last year in Europe and it just “worked”.

          • Thanks for the explanation. So, the cards I mentioned (Citi Thank You, and Bank of America) would not work in a European chip&pin kiosk, even if I went ahead and got a pin number from the bank?

          • Oh, so how can i find out which has the pin feature and which doesn’t? I have other cards with a chip. Unfortunately, i just cancelled my Barclay Arrival card last month…

          • You can call the issuer and ask, but the reality is most cards in the US don’t have this PIN feature yet, so odds are you probably don’t have a card with the feature outside of the Diner’s Club Card, the Barclaycard Arrival card I talked about, and a couple of others.

  10. We are living temporarily in Europe and I find the signature default quite tedious! Most checkouts do not even have a pen handy and I have to provide my own. It calls unwanted attention to me as a “tourist” and prevents me from using self checkout at the grocery store. I have even had retailers hand me the signed slip to keep! They should be able to program it to default to chip and pin once you are in Europe. I do not understand why they did it like this – if my card goes missing it is much more vulnerable than it would be if the person using it needed my pin.

    • Bethany – Have you found a solution to this? I’m running into the same thing. I’ve probably got 200 transactions under my belt in the last few months with this card overseas and every transaction is met with an eye roll? “Blue or Black Pen delivery to check out 6 please.”

      I have called Barclay and they can’t even comprehend my question, let alone answer it.

  11. For many years I have lived in Europe half time. I started to use cards with a chip as soon as they were available in the States and was very desirous of getting a card that would at least move from chip + signature to to chip + pin when a signature was not possible. At this writing the vast majority of American cards still will not do that.

    Because the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite PIN is purported to do such, I obtained one. I am happy to report that on a recent trip to France the card was accepted by two machines on the freeways without any pin input at all, it was accepted by kiosks in parking garages twice with pin input, and it was accepted with pin input in a store where the merchant refused to accept a signature. It has also been accepted with pin input by parking garages and self-checckout at supermarkets in Poland.

    This does not mean that the card will make travel in France easy. The French, in all their inimitable Frenchness, have little or no interest in accommodating themselves to foreigners of any type. Machines, especially on the freeways, frequently will not take any but French issued cards, though the signs give no indication of that. Also, the French are making new kiosks — and replacing or repairing older kiosks — with machines that accept only contactless credit cards. On the freeway during my recent trip there was a place where people were taking money. I handed the woman my credit card but it was refused because it wasn’t contactless. So, as always in France generally (unlike other countries), and especially on the very expensive freeways, one must travel with at least fifty euros in small bills and coins since most toll areas have no humans available.

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