Travelling to the USA with Curve tips

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Here is some basic information for Curve users travelling to The United States of America:

Languages:
English is the primary language used with some usage of Spanish and French depending on the area.

Phone Coverage:
AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint are the main carriers with US Cellular also being major in some markets. Most European devices are not compatible with Verizon or Sprint (with the exception of Verizon for some newer iPhones). The vast majority of the United States has coverage but some carriers do not have data coverage in Alaska. Many European phone companies provide free or cheap roaming in the United States.

T-Mobile offers a tourist plan which includes 2GB of 4G data (and unlimited 2g data), Unlimited Texts (both domestic and international) for 21 days. The price varies by purchase date but it usually around 30$. Red Pocket Mobile also offers cheap plans (just make sure to select the GSM sim). Some T-Mobile plans also include roaming in Canada & Mexico which is useful is your also travelling to one of these countries.

Currency & ATMS:
United States Dollar (Some merchants may also accept Canadian Dollars near the border)

Almost every ATM charges a fee between 2$-5$. If you are withdrawing small amounts, I would suggest you use a Barclays debit card or Barclaycard credit card at Bank of America ATMs due to the Global ATM alliance. Credit Union ATMs are usually cheaper.

Using your card:
When asked, always say you’re paying by credit . Most American merchants will ask ‘credit’ or 'debit. While your Curve card is a debit MasterCard, debit actually refers to domestic debit cards and credit means Visa, MasterCard, AmEx etc.

Warning for Metal Curve Users: Beware of any parking machines that suck in your card as the card may get stuck.

Contactless is not all that prevalent. The limit varies by merchant but is usually around 50$ but you can still usually tap above this, you’ll just sign or enter your PIN. Beware - Many US merchants use the old standard of Contactless (magstripe based contactless), Curve does not support this technology and you may experience a decline. Insert your card or swipe your card instead.

Gas Station pumps can be problematic due them asking for a zip code (this is for security purposes). You may need to go inside to prepay. Cashiers in areas where Canadians frequent will be familiar with this issue, due to Canada using British style postal codes, The following trick may work depending on the station:

Take all the numbers from your postcode, then add 0s to make it a 5 digit number.

Card acceptance is wide and you are unlikely to come across anywhere that doesn’t accept credit cards, except food carts (which in many cases do also accept cards). Some tolls are also cash only but your rental car will generally have a transponder. Chip and PIN is not widely rolled out. In many instances transactions will either be Chip and Signature or Swipe and Sign. You may need to present ID when using your credit card, especially for higher value transactions.

These merchants can be an issue when using a Curve card:
Coke Vending Machines (Swipe down to up, this avoids the contactless reader which will decline with the Curve card).

New York MTA transit vending machines (When prompted for a zip code enter 99999 and press enter).

Other tips and facts:
Many national parks are either closed or partially closed in the winter, check ahead.

The drinking age is 21 but some states do have lower limits if you are purchasing alcohol in a restaurant with someone over the age of 21.

Dates are written MM/DD/YY

American’s ask for the ‘check’ when asking for the bill.

A gratuity is usually expected. In some states, waiters fully rely on tips. In New York City, the gratuity may already be added to the bill.

If you are within 100 miles of the Canadian or Mexican border, carry your passport due to random internal border checkpoints. These are also sometimes present in Southern Florida. If you do not have your passport with you, you may be detained.