Solutions for Buying Train Tickets for France in Spite of Credit Card Rejections from Ouigo and SNCF Connect

by  Mose Hayward
LAST UPDATED ON  2023-11-06
PUBLISHED ON  2022-07-28
Trouble with a foreign credit card and the French train system? You’re not alone, but there really are solutions that don’t involve aggravation, nor travel agents and their extra fees. Photo credits Tomas Depenbusch and ccPixs.

Your Train Guide

Mose Hayward

Hexagonal Rail Nut

The French train operator’s websites SNCF Connect and Ouigo are notorious for rejecting bank and credit cards from outside of France. Those from Brazil, Eastern Europe, the United States, Australia, and Canada in particular report problems with payments not going through or getting rejected.

We’ve been carefully researching the best alternatives for foreigners looking to purchase French train tickets ahead of their travels or while in the Hexagon. We’ll discuss the complaints and what to do about them, but basically our advice boils down to the following.

What to to do about rejected international credit cards with Ouigo or SNCF Connect

  1. By far the easiest way to buy French train tickets with a non-French credit card is Trainline. It accepts Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, American Express, Maestro, Diners Club (UK only), Google Pay, and Apple Pay. Trainline charges the same as SNCF for any particular route but adds on a surcharge, generally about 3%.
    Trainline is also sometimes cheaper as it comes up with better routes than the SNCF itself (and other official operators in Europe), particularly if you’re crossing between countries on the trip.
  1. If you don’t have a French credit card, don’t use the Ouigo’s website (which is in French only, by the way). This is by far the most likely to reject non-French credit cards. Ouigo trains can instead be booked via Trainline (above) or SNCF Connect. Trainline usually offers more success, especially if your credit card is from a country blocked by Ouigo.
  2. A Trainline competitor for France that plays nice with non-French credit cards is Rail Europe; in our overall comparison with Trainline it was just about as good in terms of routing and just as easy to use. But it charges a per-order booking fee of £5.95, €6.95, US$7.95, or CA$9.95, depending on the currency you’ve chosen, with no fees for orders under £15/€15/US$15/US$20. It doesn’t have quite as extensive coverage as Trainline does for France, notably lacking Ouigo trains, which can offer big savings. Rail Europe accepts MasterCard, Visa, Visa Electron, Maestro, and American Express.

Problems with Buying SNCF Train Tickets with American and Other International Credit Cards

The Easier Ways to Buy Train Tickets for France with Credit Cards from Anywhere

Ouigo Ticket Purchases Blocked from Outside Europe (and Even Parts of Europe)

2023 Update: SNCF Connect Again Rejecting a Foreign Credit Card

We hope this helps and happy travels in France! It really is worth it, believe it or not. We don’t much enjoy the official websites, but do love the French trains.

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