Chip Cards: EMV, Chip and PIN, and Chip and Signature

Credit cards with chip technology are mostly the same as the magnetic strip cards used in the U.S. every day. The difference is that EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) cards are instead embedded in the card with an electronic chip, containing information usually stored in the card’s magnetic strip. In some cases a PIN is required to complete a transaction as an added security measure.

There are two main kinds of EMV cards: Chip-and-PIN and Chip-and-Signature. If you use a Chip-and-PIN card you will need to enter a PIN, similar to the way you would with a debit card. With a Chip-and-Signature card, you use your signature as verification instead of entering a PIN.

Chip-and-PIN vs. Chip-and-Signature

  • Chip-and-PIN and Chip-and-Signature are both forms of EMV technology that offer enhanced security against counterfeiting. Chip-and-Signature requires a signature as opposed to typing in a PIN. Most United States issuers only offer Chip-and-Signature.
  • EMV eliminates some of the ways data is stolen or replicated because the chip technology is more difficult to clone than a magnetic strip.
  • In the case of Chip-and-PIN, the PIN is required to complete the transaction.
  • With Chip-and-PIN, any data stolen from a merchant is useless because the data is expired after it leaves the merchant’s reader.
  • It is important to remember theft is still possible, and there are breaches in countries who use this technology, but EMV technology makes a security breach much more unlikely.

Check out the video below to learn more about the difference between Chip-and-PIN and Chip-and-Signature.

Where Can I Get A Card With A Chip?

We’ve put together this list to show you what issuers offer Chip-and-Signature cards. Most issuers in the U.S. only offer Chip-and-Signature, but there are a few that offer Chip-and-PIN. For Chip-and-PIN cards, see here. This list is constantly updated as new cards become available. If your card is in the chart, but doesn’t have a chip, you can request a new one from your issuer.

Chip-and-Signature Cards in the U.S.

Currently, most chip cards in the U.S. are chip-and-signature only. A few have PIN capabilities, which means you can set a PIN, allowing the card to be used in situations where a PIN is required. Note: many chip-and-signature cards will still work with most international merchants, except in the case of unmanned terminals (tollbooths, gas stations, kiosks).

American Express

Bank of America

Barclaycard

Note: The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard is Chip-and-PIN sometimes and Chip-and-Signature other times. If it is a manned terminal (person at the checkout), it uses chip-and-signature. If it’s an unattended kiosk, it uses chip-and-PIN. To obtain the PIN for your card, call customer service or go to barclaycardus.com, create a login, and request a PIN.

Capital One

Note: Capital One has plans to implement chip technology on most of its cards by the end of 2015.

JP Morgan Chase

United MileagePlus Club Card *Will be chip-enabled, and existing card members will be able to request a replacement EMV Chip Card.

Citi

Note: You may request a replacement card with a chip if your current card does not have one.

Discover

  • Discover chip cards started becoming available in December 2014 and cardmembers will be issued chip cards throughout 2015.

Synchrony Bank

Note: The non-MasterCard version of the Walmart card does not have an EMV chip.

USAA

Note: USAA members are eligible to request a Chip-and-PIN Card if they plan to work or travel overseas.

US Bank

*U.S. Bank became the first in the United States to issue a dual EMV chip and contact-less payment card for retail customers with its FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card.

Wells Fargo

All Wells Fargo chip cards are enabled with Chip-and-PIN technology.

Chip-and-PIN Cards In The U.S.

The U.S. currently does not offer many Chip-and-PIN cards. However, there are a few available to consumers now and there will be more options in 2015.

Prepaid Chip-and-PIN

Prepaid Chip-and-PIN cards offer the security of chip technology, but they often aren’t linked to your personal information and require you to pre-load the card with funds. You can get these with low or no credit because there is typically no credit check to qualify. Prepaid Chip-and-PIN Cards can also be beneficial for college students studying abroad because they can’t spend more than the loaded amount.

Best Chip Cards For You

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Complimentary FICO score
  • Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 20% off travel
  • 2X points on travel

Marriott Rewards Premier Card

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline
  • $85 annual fee is waived the first year

 Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Points aren’t capped and don’t expire
  • No pre-set spending limit

Chip Cards With No Annual Fee

News About Chip Cards and Security

In response to its massive data breach in November 2013, Target has replaced its store registers to accept Chip-and-PIN cards. Starting in 2015, Target will issue its branded credit and debit cards as MasterCard Chip-and-PIN cards. In addition, Target’s existing branded cards will be reissued to cardholders as MasterCard co-branded Chip-and-PIN cards. This is part of the retailer’s renewed commitment to customer security after one of the largest retail breaches in 2013. For more information on Target’s transition, check out this article from the Wall Street Journal.

On April 7th, 2014, Bank of America Merrill Lynch announced that it is expanding its Chip-and-PIN technology offering to all purchasing and travel credit card products available in the United States. Additionally, on September 30th, 2014, Bank of America announced that beginning in October, it will include chip technology on all new and reissued consumer and small business debit cards. At merchant locations accepting chip transactions, customers will insert the card into the chip-enabled terminal. The cards will still include the traditional magnetic stripe – allowing customers the option to swipe their cards. Bank of America is the first major U.S. bank to add this chip technology to debit cards.

View our insider post on Chip Cards to see why the U.S. lags behind in developing this technology: The Cost of Fraud Versus the Cost to Upgrade: Why Doesn’t the U.S. Use EMV Technology?

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