The following is based on own experience with added research and user feedback. It’s purely anecdotal and using the information you find in this guide is at your own risk. Your own mileage may vary!
The one takeaway for this: You are going to have to enable magstripe transactions.
- Currency: Dollar
- ISO 4217 Currency Code: USD
- Symbol: $.
Card acceptance is as high as you would expect in the US. Most stores, even those that are quite small will be happy to take payment in plastic form.
You’d also expect that chip and pin and contactless payments would, by now, be as ubiquitous in the US as in the UK. Unfortunately, and inexplicably, not so much.
Swipe and sign is still by far the primary method of settling card transactions.
Most stores and automated checkouts have all-in-one swipe/chip-and-PIN/contactless terminals fitted, but more than likely you’ll find that only the mag stripe reader is enabled.
Debit and credit cards in the States tend not to be contactless enabled so where contactless payments are accepted it’s likely cashiers will assume payments will only work on Apple/Google Pay. If you wave your card over the terminal and payment is accepted, the cashier will likely assume you are a witch.
Don’t be surprised if some transactions are authorised by swipe-without-signature or chip-without-PIN. It freaked me the hell out, but apparently, this is normal in America.
At some stores, the terminal may ask if you are paying by credit or debit card. You should choose ‘credit’, even if you are using a MasterCard/Visa debit card. Choosing ‘debit’ will attempt to route the payment through a rag-tag bunch of US regional bank payment networks and eventually fail.
If you are paying for petrol, you’ll likely be prompted for your Zip Code - the American five-digit postal code system. If this happens, you can try 99999 or 10001. If that is not accepted, you’ll need to pay in the kiosk.
Most ATMs in the states will charge you for making a withdrawal. Expect to pay anywhere between $1 and $6, depending on whose machine you are using.
You may receive fee-free withdrawals from Wells Fargo, TDUSA, Citibank. If you have any more up-to-date info on this, please let me know.
Macy’s You may find Chip and PIN now works here. They were quite proud of this ‘new’ tech in the store I used. Mag Swipe if it doesn’t.
CVS It’s officially a ‘pharmacy’ but looks more like a supermarket. They have automated checkouts, but don’t expect contactless to work.