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US Banks are Finally Issuing Some Chip-and-PIN Credit Cards

May 11, 2011 at 8:44 AM | by | ()

The USA isn't all that bad when it comes to adopting the latest technology. After all, we’re always the first ones to get iPhones and iPads while the rest of the world has to sit there and wait! However, the one area where America is behind the times is when it comes to credit cards. The folks overseas—especially in Europe—have magical little chips in their cards that add a little more security to each transaction. It’s really not that great, but it is frustrating when we can’t do stuff abroad because we don’t have the chip dealies.

Some of the biggest travel issues arise at places like public bicycle rentals, parking lots, and other kiosks where the payment machines are set up for these chip-and-pin systems. Some credit cards—like those from the nifty fifty—won’t work as we’re lacking the extra little silicon tidbit embedded in our cards.

Finally US banks are catching up to the rest of the world, as Chase and Wells Fargo are starting to roll out the new pieces of plastic. The only bummer is that they’re both doing so in test markets, so things aren’t available to all customers just yet. If you bank with someone else there’s no need to rush out and transfer your balances—yet.

Wells Fargo is apparently choosing customers that they feel already travel overseas frequently, and they’re issuing around 15,000 of the new chip-and-pin cards. There’s no way to specifically request one, but maybe if you start traveling a bunch—and spending plenty of your cash—they’ll catch on that you deserve one. Over at Chase you’ll need to be one of their fancy pants Palladium card members—kind of like the black card—so again the fun comes at a premium.

It’s good news that the transition over to the newer system is beginning here at home, and we’re thinking that once a few banks make the transition, everyone else will be forced to do the same. We're just worried about another password to remember.

[Photo: Ciaran McGuiggan]

Archived Comments:

The real reason for those chips in Europe

American is behind the times? Nope. Fraud is much worse in Europe, and it's the reason for these chips. In the US, banks decided it's not worth the investment given the amount of fraud they have to deal with.

yes, hence "more security"

I was just in Switzerland and every time I went to charge something, the cashier had to bypass their usual CC machine and swipe it on a old monitor. "Oh you have a swipe card," they said disdainfully. I want a chip card ASAP!

The US needs to look beyond its borders

I just came back from 4 weeks in Europe and 5 weeks in Asia, and it is getting to be such a pain to use a US issued credit card. Over the past few years, the situation has gotten from bad to worse as fewer and fewer merchants accepts our cards. Our credit card issuers can keep saying that all merchants must accept the magnetic swipe cards, but the fact is that many merchants simply refuse. When they do, often there are delays because only certain checkouts can handle such cards or the supervisor has to be called. I am very disappointed that even huge multi-national banks, such as HSBC, do not issue cards with chips in the US. This is a huge opportunity for a bank lead the charge of offering cards with chips to the masses and differentiate itself from the rest. BTW, why are we still using miles and pounds instead of km and kg? Or C instead of F?