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This article was last updated Jan 16, 2014, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
The relatively new innovation of pin and chip credit card technology is finally coming to America, even though it was introduced to the majority of the rest of the world several years ago. The banking industry in the U.S. has been slow to invest in the technology, mainly because bankers did not want to spend the money to upgrade their current credit card systems. A new and advanced technology is available that has the ability to process pin and chip enabled credit cards.
Consumers have a right to pin and chip, though, because these cards are much less vulnerable to hacking, identify theft, and fraud.
Why Pin & Chip Is Superior
A pin and chip card uses an embedded microchip that automatically converts and powerfully encrypts all of your confidential and valuable credit card account information into a unique code each time you use the card. That feature makes it very hard to copy or duplicate pin and chip credit cards, and removes most of the incentive for criminals to attempt to do so
For more than 10 years the cards have been in use in other parts of the world with great success because they are safer and more secure than magnetic strip cards. Today they are used in more than 80 different countries. If you encounter a merchant whose credit card terminal cannot read a chip-enabled card, you can still swipe the card and sign it in the old-fashioned way. When buying anything online or over the phone the process is exactly the same as with a magnetic strip card.
Big Bank Options
- One bank that currently has a very large menu of pin and chip plastic for American (personal) cards is Citi, a CompareCards advertising partner.
- USAA, a financial services company devoted primarily to serving current and former members of the U.S. military and their families, also offers them. You will have to meet the USAA eligibility requirements through military affiliation in order to apply for a USAA card, but if you do qualify they have pin and chip cards available. To help ensure you get a pin and chip card from USAA you may want to mention that you need it for overseas travel.
- Chase Bank, an advertising partner, also offers a few options to choose from, largely those that are co-branded credit cards.
- Bank of America, an advertising partner, offers a small number of card options with pin and chip technology.
- Capital One has two of their credit cards currently available with pin and chip technology.
- Barclays offers travel credit cards with chip and pin.
A Credit Union Option
Credit unions tend to be much more user-friendly and earn high marks for customer service, whereas larger banks have recently been the subject of customer discontent and anger. Credit unions are more geared toward customer service for a reason; in the U.S., they are structured as nonprofit organizations. They have a core financial obligation to customers, not shareholders, so they charge lower fees and rates whenever possible – versus trying to maximize profits earned off of their customers.
Andrews Federal Credit Union is a bank that anyone can join by simply making a donation to the American Consumer Council. Andrews Federal Credit Union will sponsor your lifetime ACC membership at no cost to you with use of the promo code. Once your membership goes through (which happens within 24 hours) you can use your membership number to open your credit union account and apply for your pin and chip card.
When in Doubt, Ask.
These new cards are still being tested in American pilot programs by banks such as Wells Fargo. During these early stages, however, their availability in the U.S. is not always advertised – even though pin and chip may be available free of charge to those who ask for it. If you are interested in one of these cards you will need to contact your credit card issuer and make a special request. They may have one that they are not yet telling the general public about, but that they can and will issue to you. It never hurts to ask or to check.
To expedite service it never hurts to tell them that you need it ASAP because you are headed to Europe. If they have pin and chip cards to issue, banks would rather send you one than run the risk of losing your business because you decided to carry one of their competitor’s pin and chip cards instead.
After the 100 million people that have fallen victim to credit card fraud this past year, President Obama has signed an Executive Order called “BuySecure Initiative” that requires all government agencies, facilities, and properties to convert to pin and chip card readers. Beginning next fall, America will start to notice many more pin and chip cards in the hands of consumers. There has been a deadline set for October 1, 2015, for all merchants and retailers to convert to pin and chip card readers, and for all card issuers to deliver chip cards to their cardholders. The liabilities for fraud will shift from the card issuers to the merchants if merchants fail to update their card processing terminals to pin and chip technology. Bank ATMs and fuel dispensing merchants have until October 1, 2017, to make the necessary conversions. Even though Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover all have similar dates and deadlines for pin and chip conversions, as a consumer it is important to keep those key dates in mind as the deadlines start to approach.
*Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.
*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.