Motorcycle Travel Q&A: FUEL

Questions & Answers

Noah asks about Fuel:

Could you please advise me about finding fuel in Europe? I don’t read / speak languages like German, Italian, Polish, Danish, French, Czech, etc. Can I use my Visa credit card to purchase fuel?


Hi Noah,
I don’t know all of the words for fuel either but I know that “blei frei” and “sans plomb” both mean unleaded in German and French respectively. Most gas is lead free in Europe now. The octane will be shown on the pump as usual, at least most of the time, just like in the US. Yes, you can use your Visa to buy fuel. I suggest checking to see which of your cards do not charge a foreign transaction fee and use that one. For us it’s the Bank of America card. AMEX is accepted some places, but not as widely as VISA and MC.

I will tell you though that in order to use the card at the pump, you need a PIN, kind of like for an ATM card. It’s not the same PIN
as for cash advances on your credit card, and most USA credit cards do not have this feature. Not to worry though, just go in to the store and tell them which pump # and give them your credit card to fill up, like we used to do.

One IMPORTANT thing to note is that in Switzerland, and a few other countries, most gas stations are CLOSED ON SUNDAYS. That means fill up Saturday for your Sunday drive in some parts of Europe, just to be sure. The pumps may be operational on Sunday, but without that PIN feature, you’re out of luck. That does not apply in every country, and you may even find one or two open in a big city (for example Zurich) and the highway rest stop gas stations may or may not be open on Sunday. We haven’t found this to be a big problem thought if you plan correctly.

As in most places, the big city gas station attendants will speak at least some English and other patrons will be happy to help
Hope that helps.