So what happens when the United States lags behind in credit card technology? Does it really matter if the rest of the industrialized world is now using credit cards with chips instead of magnetic strips? Well, it does matter if you’re an overseas traveler.
As other countries have already adopted credit cards with chips and are done with or at least transitioning out credit cards with magnets, not all places abroad even have a “swipe” machine for magnetic strip credit cards, including places like train kiosk. In other places, businesses use both but U.S. travelers have been learning that cashiers are often very unfamiliar with how to use the seemingly obsolete machines.
The smart cards, called EVM cards, have an encrypted chip to tighten security. This EVM was a joint project of Visa, MasterCard and Europay.
Wells Fargo gave out 15,000 credit cards with chips earlier this year and reports that the response for international travelers was a huge success. Wells Fargo says they plan to offer more chip embedded credit cards for travelers. U.S. Bank also gave 20,000 select travel rewards customers smart cards this year as well.
Chase has a chip embedded credit card, co-branded with British Airways coming out after the Thanksgiving holiday. Chase believes this smart card will be more convenient and safe for traveling customers. This smart card has a $95.00 annual fee.
Most chip embedded credit cards do require a pin number as experts believe that the chip embedded credit cards requiring a pin reduce the risks of fraud which is important to us all but super important to overseas travelers who would find proving fraud across the sea an even greater challenge. The good news for U.S. smart card holders is that they will also have a magnetic strip so that they can be used at home as well and these cards will require a signature, not a pin.
“Chip-with-signature has the same security benefits as chip-and-PIN,” said a Chase Card Services spokesman. “In addition, the EMV-enabled cards also have a mag-stripe, so they can be used within the U.S. Ultimately, we want to provide our cardmembers with benefits that provide them the greatest ease while traveling abroad.”
Will this smart chip technology be coming to the U.S.? Visa says yes, by the year 2015. Visa has announced incentives for banks and stores to install and adopt the technology to use smart cards in the U.S. Since Europe and Asia have made the switch, security experts have warned that the United States could become a bigger target for fraud as other countries tighten security.