Malaysia. Purchase Denied Updated

Malaysian Travel Advisory.

World Wide acceptance of MasterCard & Visa? I think not. Since I have been in the Kuala Lumpar metro area. I have been denied purchases from a grocery store up to a brand name outlet (Canon) at a mega mall. All accept MC & Visa, but if you do not have a “Chip” on the front of your card it will not be accepted at establishments that only have the “Passover” (Scan) method for your card. These chips seem to be only for cards (Credit / Debit) issued within Malaysia, which seems to be most if not all cards.

The establishments who use this method claim they cannot swipe your card. Maybe, but I find it hard to believe there is not a backup such as typing in your credit card number. Most establishments do not solely use the Pass Over method to charge your card though. But if they do, be prepared to have a wad of Ringgets in your pocket.

Well, I guess I will be buying that Canon on my next visit to the U.S. But what the hell, they are cheaper there as well as most electronics.

Is this method good for the Malaysian economy with the mass of Tourists who now visit MY? I think not.

This is the first country I have visited with this restriction.
Are all banks here owned by the Govt.? Hmmm…

As I mentioned, most shops do not employ this method, but be prepared for it.

Update to the Original Post:

As I entered ACE Hardware recently in Malaysia I noticed they had the device for reading credit cards via the Pass Over Chip method. Eager to test out another establishment, I proceeded to buy something I really didn’t even need. 🙂

Upon presenting my chipless MasterCard, the clerk asked for help on how to process it without asking me for a card that did have the chip. I liked this, the clerk was making an effort. The ACE employees, still unsure how to process the card, waved over a supervisor who seemed confused also and promptly disappeared into a back room “with” my card, didn’t like that part.

The store manager soon appeared and instructed the clerk on how to enter the card number manually by utilizing the 3 digit security code on the back. The backup method I have always seen in the past, U.S. or elsewhere.

It seems it is up to the establishments discretion on whether to go through the “hassle” of manual entry using a keypad to complete the sale. ACE did handle the process professionally and apologized for the inconvenience. This was a matter of training the staff and of an establishment desiring to make the sale and gain a returning customer.

I still carry a wad of ringgets though.

I would love some feedback on this from anyone.

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5 thoughts on “Malaysia. Purchase Denied Updated

  1. I occasionally use my Visa/Master Card from the USA here in Malaysia even though it doesn’t have a chip. It always gets suspicious looks. However, there’s a hefty foreign currency exchange fee, so I only use it as a last resort.

    The down side is that if I use it for a large purchase such as an iPhone, my credit card gets frozen and tagged fraudulent, even though I’ve told them I’m in Malaysia. Most of the time, a simple phone call clears it up.

    However, one time both my cards plus both my husband’s cards were all frozen (trying to buy the 2nd iPhone), leaving us with no working cards. A phone call didn’t work this time. I had to physically go to CitiBank with my passport and card to prove my identity. The local CitiBank branch was not cooperative, claiming they couldn’t help since it was a U.S. card. After much arguing, they finally called the U.S. office — and informed them that my signature on my TX Drivers License did NOT match the card, implying that it might be fraudulent. The only reason why it doesn’t exactly match is that DPS makes you use those electronic touchpads and stylus to sign your name. After 2 hours, I left with it unresolved and had to go back another day to finally clear it up.

    We ended up opening a Maybank account to simplify purchases. The U.S. cards only come out if the Maybank card is denied.

    • Hi Michele, yeah I have run into the signature issue due to the Touchpad Stylus issue myself, in addition, I usually do not sign the back of my cards as if they are stolen, then the thief has my signature also. I’ve never had a problem with an unsigned card in the U.S. or Internationally. In Malaysia however I was told I had to sign the card or they would not complete the purchase I was attempting.

      Credit Cards can have high International Fees and / or several, especially on ATM withdrawals. Capital One hit me with a $10..00 fee for an ATM withdraw and it also is considered a Cash Advance which results in an higher APR. 😦

      I’ve found my best options are using debit cards from my U.S. local banks which charge $2.00 for an International ATM withdrawal and just a few cents for the exchange fee. Paypal charges 1% I believe for Intl. ATM withdraws and no service charge for Purchases / Transactions. My U.S. banks haven’t charged any fees for Transactions either (debit cards). Luckily I haven’t seen any Malaysian charges deducted from my ATM withdrawals.

      As for U.S. Banks, I guess the fee schedule varies from bank to bank. Debit cards from your checking and PayPal’s Debit Card seem the best shot. Like you, my credit cards are a last resort. One note, Visa does seem to be more widely accepted in some countries. In Costa Rica, Mastercard was only accepted by the National Bank & a few establishments. PayPal only issues debit & credit cards under Mastercard.

      I learned to def. check out each country before slipping that card into the ATM. I now carry a wad of Ringetts with me. LOL 🙂


  2. Agreed Justine. I usually find most services, accomodations, food, etc… lower in price in developing and third world countries. But once you get into name brand items, there is no diff. than back in the U.S. & usually priced higher.
    My beef is the chip they put on Malaysian cards, I have heard all banks here are Gov. owned. That would explain a lot.
    Will find out next week when I go and inquire about opening an account.

  3. It’s such a fine line isn’t it? Does a country stay the way it is or does it change in order to suit its tourists? I too try to take a couple of different currency measures when I travel. I leave buying those bigger purchases for the shops back home or via duty free.