This week I’m “liveblogging” my trip to Ukraine. Unlike traditional reports, these posts will be shorter and more frequent.
When it comes to tap and pay, Poland is pretty advanced. But apparently, when it comes to buying public transport tickets in Warsaw, cash is king.
Polish Public Transport In Warsaw – Can I Use A Credit Card?
I’m trying to use public transport more when I travel, not such much for environmental reasons as because I hate crowded roads and highways and therefore using public transport, when available, contributes to that goal via the ethic of reciprocity.
Upon reaching Warsaw, my first order of business was to get to the central railway station to see if I could obtain a same-day rail ticket to Kyiv. Public transport (both trains and busses) connect the rail station to Warsaw’s Chopin International Airport and I thought I could save a few bucks and not even lose all that much time by using the train.
It is quite a walk from the terminal to the station, but eventually, I made it and tried to buy a ticket.
I tapped to pay and my card was rejected. I tapped another card…it was rejected. Then I stuck the physical card in the reader. Rejected. And another one. Rejected. And another one. Rejected.
Visa? Nope. MasterCard? Nope.
I had EUR, CHF, and USD, but no Polish Zloty (PLN).
Now, let’s see if I can find a currency exchange booth. The one next to the station is closed.
Perhaps public transport is not meant to be for me in Warsaw…
Glad to hear you are only using woke public transportation for selfish reasons and not “environmental” reasons. I don’t want to have Governor DeSantis ban your blog in Florida
Had the same issue in Copenhagen’s main station, of all places. Buying Online- X, using a credit card/debit card for ticket – X, using an ATM THEN using the cash to buy ticket – Yay! (This was at 6:30 AM so I can’t go to a booth to buy from a human)
Matt, I wish I had given you a phone number of a friend in Poland to advise you. Poles are generally very friendly and you could have flagged one down to help exchange a few bucks in currency. You might be out a Zloty but you’d get through but I don’t think that was the problem with that Kiosk. I’ve used by VISA and Mastercards there previously in those PKP kiosks without issue HOWEVER you may have had issue with the cards flagging your travel in Poland as suspicious or… perhaps the kiosk itself had issues. Did anyone else use it in your presence? Did you try using your Iphone wallet to pay?
Just 6 months ago, I went to pay on PKP’s website for tickets for my father-in-law from Krakow to the Ukrainian border and my mastercard got rejected. Darnit. It then tried my chase visa. Nope. But then I used google pay (tied to my mastercard!) and it went through.
I appreciate you probably didn’t think this through much in that you only intended to transit through Poland on the way to Ukraine…
I probably should have got your number in advance, but it all turned out okay.
Strange, i had no trouble at all when i visited the last time
Did you use a credit card or an EC card?
A few years ago I was in Milan and had to get the Malpensa Express (train from Milan to the airport) very early in the morning. Taxi dropped me off at the station and took off. I was the only person anywhere around. Got to the machine and it didn’t accept any of my credits cards. I had Euros but it would not give change. I decided to get into the train and try to pay inside otherwise I would miss my flight. Train too off, nobody showed up during the trip to check tickets or for me to pay. Go figure!!!
Banks can be overprotective at times. Fraud from various places is suspect. I check/notify before I leave home. Some credit cards require the notification. And I’ve kept an amenity bag with leftover cash of all sorts. Also when a first transaction is for a small amount, oddly that can be flagged as suspicious.
In Matt’s case, with constant world travel, it probably was a different issue
I had the same issue in Frankfurt with the trains. I had to use my debit card to get it to work.
Thanks for the heads up, I’ll probably have to purchase transport tickets for Warsaw if my current Europe itin holds.
When I was in Prague last year, the limitations were strange for some of the tram pass kiosks:
You can pay for the pass with cash… but not with bills, only with coins. OR You can pay for the pass with a credit card… but only with the wireless pay feature, not by sticking the card into a slot.
Did you try Apple (or google) pay? Does not seem to get declined like tapping the card does, and you likely dont have a PIN so inserting the card will not work.
Credit card system in the US is pre historical. You go to Europe and even Latam and they look at you like you are from other planet when you are prompted to sign the receipt.
That’s no longer an issue with contactless cards. I was finally able to go to Poland again last year in September after missing a few years because of the pandemic and all my credit cards now have contactless. It’s such a joy to be able to tap the card and have it work without having a receipt print and then having to sign. of course there’s a 100 PLN daily contactless limit on each card otherwise you’ll have to insert.
Depending on the PoS terminal you are still sometimes asked if you’d like to pay in PLN or USD so you do have to watch out for that. Always pay in the local currency wherever you are to avoid DCC charges.
No problems using a cc on our annual trips to Warsaw…I’ll see again in June! Hope you have a chance to visit the beautiful Raffles Warsaw on your way back.
Something was wrong, I’m living in Warsaw from 3 years, never used cash ! You can pay everywhere with card. Something was wrong with that machine or your card…
Have had this happen to me in Europe several times over the years….
– AMEX card would not work in Czech Rep for both rental car and hotel. However, used same card in Poland the week before for the same hotel chain and rental car company with no issues. Upon return to Poland to fly home, AMEX card worked perfectly at airport restaurant prior to departure.
– In Germany, CITI card would not work with Deutsche Bahn ticket kiosk. DB clerk attempted to manually key in card number to no avail. I made sure to thank the clerk for his efforts and ended up using Euros.
– On French Autoroutes, highway toll kiosk would not accept my credit card. Fellow passanger offered his debit card from a small US credit union which worked perfectly. Go figure!!
That looks like a you problem tbh. Certainly not something worth writing an article about
That’s just wrong – I lived in Germany and the Deutsche Bahn machines used to be the same (they no longer are). I am convinced that this was just an old machine that did not accept cards that were not chip and PIN.
Some of the European unattended terminals (gas stations in Italy or toll booth in Italy) will reject anything that’s not a true chip and pin card. Most USA issued cards are chip and signature. The only one I use that has saved me in those situations was the barclaycard mastercard which is a true chip and pin card that has saved me in Italy many times. Wonder if that was the issue here.
I need to get one of those, for sure.
Might be a great article topic for you to write about. And perhaps list the USA credit cards that are true chip and pin. There are not many unfortunately but they come in useful in Europe especially.
Had no issue in Warsaw a few years ago with my US credit card.
As you note elsewhere there are occasionally machines that require a chip and PIN – used to run into that a lot across the UK and Europe, but haven’t had that problem in years.
Similar problems a whole lot of places. That’s why I like London – no tickets needed at all. Just tap your credit card.
Too bad the US is way behind too.
Quite strange. Just arrived back from Warsaw last night having used public transit extensively while there. I managed to buy a 20 minute ticket, a 1 day ticket, and 3 day ticket from various machines across the city using a Chase Visa credit card via tapping and/or tapping with my iPhone using the same card with no issues whatsoever. I agree with your earlier comment it was probably machine-specific. Amex, however…not usually accepted for automated small amount transactions.
Put it in prospective, many of have UK Pounds and EU Euros laying around, but how many have a collection of Polish złoty sitting in the back of their travel pouch.
On a recent trip thru Paris and London, had to arrange for a batch of Euros and Pounds as pocket money.
Darn that Maggie Thatcher , the UK was part of the EU, but she refused to give up on the Pound….
………. No!!….No!!….No!! ………….
Rant post because a ticket machine had some card payment outage.
Travelling to another country and not even think about exchanging some currency to have pocket money for obvious reasons is surely not the ticket machine’s card payment outage fault.
In Warsaw you can pay by card virtually everywhere, do you *need* to bring cash with you to buy transport tickets? No.
Is it advised to exchange local currency before travelling? Yes.
Pro-tip, if you travel to Poland install Jakdojade app and your buying tickets issues will banish, also with a quick Google search you can get this info pretty fast and easy.
As a resident of Warsaw – what? This seems more like individual circumstances, than a reflection of payments system in Warsaw (or Poland really).
That’s what I thought too – but just wanted confirmation one way or the other.
For many years in Germany the machines were the same – would not take foreign (non-EU) credit cards. These days, it is easy to tap and go. Perhaps this particular machine was just an old one?
I use Warsaw’s public transport quite a lot, and I never had this issue. In fact, there are many machines which allows you to pay with card only. Most of the time I tap my phone to pay.
If you can’t pay by the machine at the airport, you can use the machines on the train (or any other public transport method), or buy it via an app, this just requires basic Google skills.
There are no machines on the train – I checked.