Traveling Abroad
Credit-card acceptance varies around the world. For example, in some countries (including France), Visa and MasterCard networks have been merged so that all merchants who take one, take them both. On the other hand, the cash-advance networks have not been merged. So, if you are in France, for example, almost any bank or ATM (if you have a four-digit PIN) can give you a cash advance on Visa, but only a few banks and cash machines (and all post offices) can give you a MasterCard cash advance.

In other countries (such as Italy), Visa and MasterCard networks have not merged. So, if you're going there, you might need both.

American Express and other T&E; cards were originally aimed at an upscale market, catering to this group by offering check cashing, mail-holding and cash-advance services to traveling cardholders. (Now, Visa, MasterCard and others offer some of the same services.) AmEx and Diners Club are widely accepted in the United States, although not as widely as Visa and MasterCard.

In Europe, there are increasingly fewer places that accept only Diners Club or only American Express. In France, you can use American Express at more places than in the United States; in Italy, Germany, England and Greece, you can use it less, in general, except in shops with special appeal to tourists. Be sure to check out the credit-card situation before you travel.

For more information on credit cards and related topics, check out the links on the next page.