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Don’t shop your credit card number around too much, either.

For example, as much as I love Prague, I wouldn’t pay any restaurant bill with plastic, because the waiters there are notorious for “borrowing” cards’ numbers.

So far, US banks have not committed to any conversion.

Chip-and-PIN cardholders don't sign a receipt when making a purchase — instead they enter a PIN (similar to using a debit card for a point-of-sale purchase in the US). It’s easy to withdraw cash from a nearby ATM (there’s no problem using magnetic-strip debit cards in European ATMs), or simply carry sufficient cash with you (in your money belt for safekeeping).

If you’re bound for Europe, be warned: Your US credit card won’t always work.

Unscrupulous merchants want you to pay cash so they can avoid reporting — and being taxed on — all of their income.

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.

What this means for Americans is that your magnetic-stripe credit card won’t be accepted at some automated payment points, such as ticket machines at train and subway stations, luggage lockers, toll roads, parking garages, and self-serve gas pumps.

It’s smart to carefully choose and limit how you use your plastic, whether at home or abroad.

You can safely use your debit card at ATMs to pull out cash, but using it to routinely pay for purchases at various shops increases the chance that a disgruntled employee could lift your number (which, if abused, draws money directly out of your account).

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