What You Need to Know About EMV Chip Credit Cards

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

If you’ve been reading about the changes in credit card payments lately, you might be wondering how it’s going to affect you. Merchants are now required to provide EMV-capable card readers at their point of sale areas. But just what is an EMV chip card? Here is what you need to know about these cards, and how to use them.

• What does EMV stand for? EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard, Visa – the original three companies that started making these cards. They are also called chip-and-PIN cards, chip-enabled cards, or just chip cards. They contain a small chip, embedded in the card, that has all your payment information on it. It’s encrypted, so it’s safe. When you make a payment with one of these cards, your payment information is sent securely, using a temporary code that will expire if it isn’t used within a certain timeframe.

• Why are these cards better? One word: security. These cards protect you from credit card fraud, identity theft, and other criminal activities. They keep your sensitive payment data safer than traditional magnetic stripe cards, which keeps you, your money, and your information safer as well. It’s in the best interests of consumers, merchants, and banks, all of whom deal with losses of money and time when data breaches leave consumers’ information vulnerable to thieves.

• Why are we switching now? In fact, most of the rest of the globe has already adopted EMV cards as the standard. This is one area where the United States has lagged behind the rest of the world. People who travel frequently and don’t have an EMV card have probably already encountered difficulty when they try to pay at parking meters, on buses, and in other situations where payments are automated or done my machine. There have been many credit cards available with EMV chips already, particularly travel rewards cards, but not all cards came with the chips. Now, it’s important that everyone have at least one.

• What kind of cards can have EMV chips? This isn’t just for credit cards; debit cards can have EMV technology as well. Any kind of payment card can be equipped with an EMV chip. Some cards have both a magnetic stripe and an EMV chip, so they can be used with any type of card reader.

• How is using these cards different? Instead of swiping your card in a card reader that picks up information from the magnetic stripe, you’ll wave, tap, or dip your card into the EMV card reader. It isn’t hard, and the clerk or salesperson should be able to help you if you can’t figure it out. If you are frustrated, just remember that having your payment information compromised and dealing with credit card fraud or identity theft would be much more difficult.

EMV cards are here to stay. They are useful for travel, highly secure, and easy to use. If you don’t have one, get one. If you don’t know how to use it, there’s one simple way to figure it out: go shopping! You’ll adapt soon enough.

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