How does chip and PIN work?
Using a chip and PIN credit card is much like using a traditional debit card at an ATM. Rather than swiping a magnetic stripe credit card, you insert a chip and PIN card into a payment terminal and follow the prompt to input your PIN. The PIN is then compared to information stored on the embedded computer chip and the transaction is either approved or denied. A transaction of this nature is most likely to occur outside the United States, as there are very few chip-and-PIN enabled payment terminals yet available domestically. That’s why chip-based cards still come with magnetic stripes. When using your card in the U.S., you will also be able to swipe it like any other credit card.
Are chip and PIN credit cards better than magnetic stripe credit cards?
Yes, chip and PIN itself provides superior fraud prevention compared to magnetic stripe technology due to the fact that chip and PIN credit cards are harder for fraudsters to replicate. However, there are a couple of reasons why the benefit is not yet pronounced for consumers who use their credit cards primarily in the United States.
For starters, all of the major credit card issuers provide $0 fraud liability guarantees to their customers. That means you won’t have to pay for unauthorized transactions if a fraudster ever gets his hands on your account information. Secondly, all chip and PIN credit cards currently have magnetic stripes in order to prevent usability issues in the United States, where chip-enabled payment terminals are not yet the norm. While special encoding on a chip card’s magnetic stripe renders a copied version useless at a chip-enabled payment terminal, according to Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance, that won’t necessarily be the case on a standard point of sale machine where your card is swiped.
With that said, chip and PIN credit cards are the only credit cards with which you can expect to encounter no difficulties when traveling around the world. Not only will they work at offline payment terminals, but they are also more familiar to foreign merchants who might balk at swiping a magnetic stripe card.
Where can I get a chip and PIN credit card?
Credit card issuers are gradually offering chip-based credit cards to their U.S. customers as the country continues its slow migration to EMV standards. You can find whatever cards are currently available on this page, and if we’re missing any please let us know! Furthermore, if you are interested in expanding your search to include chip and signature credit cards, check out WalletHub’s EMV credit cards page
. There are likely to be more chip and signature credit cards available than chip and PIN credit cards because the former are logistically easier for issuers to manage since they don’t require PIN maintenance.
When is the U.S. switching to chip and PIN?
The United States is currently in the process of migrating to EMV standards
and the chip-based cards that come along with it. There are a variety of deadlines that merchants must meet in order to avoid fraud liability shifts, but all you really need to know is that chip cards will be in ever greater abundance and the payment infrastructure will be correspondingly improved. Chip and PIN credit cards should be much more commonplace by 2015.