Chip and Pin credit cards issued in the United States have been on the wish list of international travelers for quite some time now, and I, for one, am ready to sing hallelujah at the announcement that Chip and Pin cards are being introduced by several US banks.
I’ve just ordered an update of my British Airways Visa card issued by Chase Bank that will come equipped with Chip and Pin technology. In additional to Chase, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank have introductory programs for Chip and Pin cards as well. I particularly like the British Airways card because it has no foreign exchange fee, earns mileage points on British Airways, and now will be accepted by merchants and automatic machines all over the world.
If you’re not familiar with the Chip and Pin dilemma for US travelers, let me explain. Several years ago much of the world adopted Chip and Pin technology where a microchip is embedded into the credit card. Rather than swipe and sign like US credit cards, the Chip and Pin cards require users to insert their card and then enter a four digit pin number of approve the sale. No more forged signatures, no more cloned magnetic strips, no more letting your credit card out of your sight! According to reports in Wikipedia, France has reported an 80% drop in fraudulent credit card activity thanks to the microchip technology.
With the adoption of Chip and Pin technology across the globe, US travelers found themselves at a disadvantage while traveling abroad. The older style magnetic strip cards where not accepted by all merchants and did not work at all in automatic machines at toll booths, at train ticket kiosks, or at petrol stations. This has been a frustrating experience for quite some time now and has resulted in a ground swell of American travelers asking, “Why can’t we have Chip and Pin cards?”
Thank goodness we now have the opportunity to secure a Chip and Pin card for international travel. As the new cards roll out, I can only expect that more large banks will jump on the band wagon and offer microchip cards of their own.