Question: Please advise me which credit card I should send with my two college-age kids, who are going to travel in Europe this summer. Ideally, I would desire a card with no foreign transaction fee, no currency conversion charge, ATM-usable, and with the chip required by many European countries.

Answer: As you probably know, Europeans have started phasing out support for traditional magnetic stripe credit cards. In city centers and other places frequented by American tourists, shopkeepers use universal pads with both swipers & chip readers. (Some of them will use your swipe as an excuse to charge you their own bad conversion rates.) The further you go off the beaten path, the more likely you'll find chip readers exclusively.

If you want your kids to have the maximum flexibility on their trip, you may have to talk an account representative into letting you sign up for one of these still-rare chip-and-PIN credit cards designed for traveling executives.

However, if you know your kids will stick to mostly cities and well-traveled tourist areas, they could get away with some of the most popular magnetic strip credit cards for leisure travelers.

Another option is to purchase a prepaid debit card from Travelex that includes ATM access and a European chip. The exchange rate might not be as nice as that of a true credit card, but you'll have peace of mind knowing that the card should work fine throughout Europe and that its pre-loaded funds can be replaced if your kids lose the card.

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