True chip-and-PIN cards issued in the US

This item appears on page 40 of the March 2014 issue.
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Some banks in the US are beginning to issue credit cards with antifraud security chips embedded in them. The chips hold account information that is encrypted.

In the US, most of these cards are “chip-and-signature” cards with which you usually must provide a signature (and an ID) to complete a transaction. However, what are being used in a great many countries outside of the US are “chip-and-PIN” cards, each of which has a personal identification number (PIN) assigned to it that you punch into the credit card terminal’s keypad when asked for it. 

The terminals that accept chip-and-PIN cards use the security standard called “EMV” (short for “EuroPay, Mastercard and Visa,” the three companies that backed its development). While chip-and-signature cards can also be used in most of those terminals, there are certain locations which will require a PIN to be typed into the EMV terminal in order to complete the transaction. This can happen at automatic teller machines (ATMs), transit-ticket machines, gasoline pumps and kiosks.

Unfortunately, the chip-and-signature cards that are becoming more common in the US will not function in some of the devices requiring a PIN. For that reason, ITN asked to hear from any subscribers who had applied for and received a true chip-and-PIN credit card from a US-based financial institution and had used it overseas successfully at an unmanned pay point (by entering a PIN). We wanted to know which financial institution issued the card plus the name of the card and what some of the qualifying requirements were. Here are several of the responses received.

 

We have the Andrews Federal Credit Union GlobeTrek Visa® Rewards Card, a true chip-and-PIN card. It charges no international foreign exchange fees and no annual fee. 

If you are not a current or past federal employee or in the family of one, you still might be able to become a member. In the online application process, they explain how.

We used the card in Spain and France in September ’13. In some staffed locations, we signed the slip rather than input our PIN. At other locations, mostly restaurants, we input the PIN into the portable card reader and did not have to sign. 

At the Barcelona airport, we were able to use the card at an unstaffed ticket machine to purchase tickets for the airport bus and on the Barcelona Metro. In the Lot region in France, we used the card numerous times at unstaffed fueling stations, a couple of them very remote.

Tom Griffith
Vancouver, WA

 

I applied for a chip-and-PIN Visa card from Andrews Federal Credit Union in March 2012. On www.flyertalk.com, I followed the detailed instructions I found in their forum. (On the homepage, do a search for “Andrews FCU,” then click on the Thread title “Andrews FCU Chip & PIN card application process…”)

As I recall, before I could apply for the credit card, I needed to open a savings or checking account with a 5-dollar deposit. That part was done over the Internet by sending AFCU a payment from another credit card. 

Applying for the credit card was done mostly over the Internet, but I recall that I did need to have a telephone conversation with one of their agents for some aspect of the approval process. The card came a week or so later.

I used that card in the Baltics in August 2012. In shops, it operated as a chip-and-signature card, but at an unattended gas pump in Riga, Latvia, it required my PIN, which was accepted without a problem. 

I’ve used it since then in shops outside the US, but in those cases it has always been processed as a chip-and-signature card.

Jeff Krauss, Potomac, MD

 

We received a chip-and-PIN card from Andrews Federal Credit Union before we traveled to England in September ’13. We needed the PIN feature only twice, as most places could also accept just a signature. 

We applied for the card online, and the process was not complicated, although I did make one phone call to be sure I had a password correct. You are required to join an organization (free and online), becoming a member and opening a 5-dollar savings account. That was much more than paid back because the card adds no international transaction fees. 

The only drawback is that you must pay the credit card bill by check or transfer from your Andrews checking or savings account. This is unlike what can be done with my Chase United Airlines account, whose bills I can pay via transfers from other financial institutions. Not wanting to put money in such an account for such a limited purpose, I will be using the card only for foreign travel, not my normal domestic purchases.

Jerry Coleman
Sebastopol, CA

 

I obtained a chip-and-PIN card from Andrews Federal Credit Union a few years ago. Here is a link to their website’s current description of the card.

I believe that my wife and I had to open a savings account in order to be eligible to have the credit card. We did so with a deposit of $5. There have never been any service charges. 

The card worked as it is supposed to in Spain when we were last there, two years ago. I was able to purchase a train ticket from a machine using our PIN.

Joe Downey, Arlington, VA

 

I got a true chip-and-PIN card two or three years ago from Andrews Federal Credit Union. One of the card’s features is no foreign transaction fee is charged. 

In Venice, Italy, in September ’12, I used it successfully in the automated dispenser that sells tickets for the train to the cruise ship port. This is a very short train ride.

One thing to know — when you insert a chip-and-PIN card into a machine, you do not pull it right back out. It needs to sit there while you enter the PIN and maybe during the entire transaction.

Miles Abernathy, Austin, TX

 

I got a chip-and-PIN MasterCard from USAA Federal Savings Bank and in August ’13 used it at attended and unattended stations in the UK. Using it like a regular credit card, I bought train tickets and a Tube pass. No problems!

There are limits on who can join USAA, namely members of the military or veterans and their families. I served in the Navy.

Willis Frick
San Clemente, CA

Editor’s note: As shown below, a few readers wrote in that they were still able to use their chip-and-signature cards at some unmanned pay points in Europe during trips in 2013. Those cards may continue to work in some locations for a while, but, as more terminals continue to be upgraded throughout Europe, it is expected that there will be fewer and fewer unmanned pay points that will accept cards without PINs.

 

I obtained a BankAmerica Cash Rewards™ credit card with a chip at the beginning of 2013. This is a Visa Signature® card, and they did not give me a PIN, so I called them and got one.

In February 2013 I went to France. At CDG Airport, I was able to use this card to purchase an RER train ticket to Paris from a machine without entering a PIN. Also, I used the machines to purchase Métro tickets.

George Lauscher
Pocono Summit, PA

 

My wife, Sally, and I were glad to get what we thought were Bank of America Travel Rewards chip-and-PIN cards. However, in October ’13, the chip-and-PIN feature never worked in Belgium or Switzerland, although we could swipe the cards and sign, as usual. This was a disappointment at ticket machines, etc. On second look, the cards each had the word “Signature” under the Visa logo.

With these cards, B of A did live up to its promise of a very fair exchange rate, with NO surcharges on foreign transactions. Even credit unions, etc., take a teeny 1% or more per transaction, which adds up to not a little sum.

On our return, we converted our USAA Bank World MasterCards to chip-and-PIN cards. (I was in the Army Reserve in the ’50s and ’60s. All of my children are also USAA members, although they are not in the military.)

Milton Lilie, Rye, NY

 

Bank of America states on its website, under the heading “Credit Card FAQs,” “Bank of America does not offer chip & PIN technology.”

Like Diana Haynes (Dec. ’13, pg. 2), I got a new credit card for travel, thinking I was getting a chip-and-PIN card, only to find it was a chip-and-signature card. This was a JP Morgan Select card, which Rick Steves, in his “Great Britain 2012” guide, referenced as a chip-and-PIN card. 

Nevertheless, we had no problems at all traveling in Britain, Germany and Austria in September ’13. We used the card in transit system ticket machines in London but did not have occasion to try it at an unmanned terminal in a gas station. 

It worked in one case where I wished it hadn’t. By mistake, I used this card instead of my debit card in an ATM. When asked for a PIN, I used the PIN for my debit card… and the transaction went through!

I do appreciate having this card. The JP Morgan Select was intended only for high-end customers, but I embarrassed them into giving it to me (as in, “You mail me three or four credit card offers per week, and when I finally come in to ask for one, you turn me down!”). 

Whenever you call the number, a living, breathing person answers the phone. And when I expressed my concern about chip-and-signature, they gave me a special number to call collect if I encountered any problems while overseas.

Donna Pyle
Boulder, CO

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Some banks in the US are beginning to issue credit cards with antifraud security chips embedded in them. The chips hold account information that is encrypted.

In the US, most of these cards are “chip-and-signature” cards with which you usually must provide a signature (and an ID) to complete a transaction. However, what are being used in a great many countries outside of the US are “chip-and-PIN” cards, each of which has a personal identification number (PIN) assigned to it that you punch into the credit card terminal’s keypad when asked for it. 

The terminals that accept chip-and-PIN cards use the security standard called “EMV” (short for “EuroPay, Mastercard and Visa,” the three companies that backed its development). While chip-and-signature cards can also be used in most of those terminals, there are certain locations which will require a PIN to be typed into the EMV terminal in order to complete the transaction. This can happen at automatic teller machines (ATMs), transit-ticket machines, gasoline pumps and kiosks.

Unfortunately, the chip-and-signature cards that are becoming more common in the US will not function in some of the devices requiring a PIN. For that reason, ITN asked to hear from any subscribers who had applied for and received a true chip-and-PIN credit card from a US-based financial institution and had used it overseas successfully at an unmanned pay point (by entering a PIN). We wanted to know which financial institution issued the card plus the name of the card and what some of the qualifying requirements were. Here are several of the responses received.

 

We have the Andrews Federal Credit Union GlobeTrek Visa® Rewards Card, a true chip-and-PIN card. It charges no international foreign exchange fees and no annual fee. 

If you are not a current or past federal employee or in the family of one, you still might be able to become a member. In the online application process, they explain how.

We used the card in Spain and France in September ’13. In some staffed locations, we signed the slip rather than input our PIN. At other locations, mostly restaurants, we input the PIN into the portable card reader and did not have to sign. 

At the Barcelona airport, we were able to use the card at an unstaffed ticket machine to purchase tickets for the airport bus and on the Barcelona Metro. In the Lot region in France, we used the card numerous times at unstaffed fueling stations, a couple of them very remote.

Tom Griffith
Vancouver, WA

 

I applied for a chip-and-PIN Visa card from Andrews Federal Credit Union in March 2012. On www.flyertalk.com, I followed the detailed instructions I found in their forum. (On the homepage, do a search for “Andrews FCU,” then click on the Thread title “Andrews FCU Chip & PIN card application process…”)

As I recall, before I could apply for the credit card, I needed to open a savings or checking account with a 5-dollar deposit. That part was done over the Internet by sending AFCU a payment from another credit card. 

Applying for the credit card was done mostly over the Internet, but I recall that I did need to have a telephone conversation with one of their agents for some aspect of the approval process. The card came a week or so later.

I used that card in the Baltics in August 2012. In shops, it operated as a chip-and-signature card, but at an unattended gas pump in Riga, Latvia, it required my PIN, which was accepted without a problem. 

I’ve used it since then in shops outside the US, but in those cases it has always been processed as a chip-and-signature card.

Jeff Krauss, Potomac, MD

 

We received a chip-and-PIN card from Andrews Federal Credit Union before we traveled to England in September ’13. We needed the PIN feature only twice, as most places could also accept just a signature. 

We applied for the card online, and the process was not complicated, although I did make one phone call to be sure I had a password correct. You are required to join an organization (free and online), becoming a member and opening a 5-dollar savings account. That was much more than paid back because the card adds no international transaction fees. 

The only drawback is that you must pay the credit card bill by check or transfer from your Andrews checking or savings account. This is unlike what can be done with my Chase United Airlines account, whose bills I can pay via transfers from other financial institutions. Not wanting to put money in such an account for such a limited purpose, I will be using the card only for foreign travel, not my normal domestic purchases.

Jerry Coleman
Sebastopol, CA

 

I obtained a chip-and-PIN card from Andrews Federal Credit Union a few years ago. Here is a link to their website’s current description of the card.

I believe that my wife and I had to open a savings account in order to be eligible to have the credit card. We did so with a deposit of $5. There have never been any service charges. 

The card worked as it is supposed to in Spain when we were last there, two years ago. I was able to purchase a train ticket from a machine using our PIN.

Joe Downey, Arlington, VA

 

I got a true chip-and-PIN card two or three years ago from Andrews Federal Credit Union. One of the card’s features is no foreign transaction fee is charged. 

In Venice, Italy, in September ’12, I used it successfully in the automated dispenser that sells tickets for the train to the cruise ship port. This is a very short train ride.

One thing to know — when you insert a chip-and-PIN card into a machine, you do not pull it right back out. It needs to sit there while you enter the PIN and maybe during the entire transaction.

Miles Abernathy, Austin, TX

 

I got a chip-and-PIN MasterCard from USAA Federal Savings Bank and in August ’13 used it at attended and unattended stations in the UK. Using it like a regular credit card, I bought train tickets and a Tube pass. No problems!

There are limits on who can join USAA, namely members of the military or veterans and their families. I served in the Navy.

Willis Frick
San Clemente, CA

Editor’s note: As shown below, a few readers wrote in that they were still able to use their chip-and-signature cards at some unmanned pay points in Europe during trips in 2013. Those cards may continue to work in some locations for a while, but, as more terminals continue to be upgraded throughout Europe, it is expected that there will be fewer and fewer unmanned pay points that will accept cards without PINs.

 

I obtained a BankAmerica Cash Rewards™ credit card with a chip at the beginning of 2013. This is a Visa Signature® card, and they did not give me a PIN, so I called them and got one.

In February 2013 I went to France. At CDG Airport, I was able to use this card to purchase an RER train ticket to Paris from a machine without entering a PIN. Also, I used the machines to purchase Métro tickets.

George Lauscher
Pocono Summit, PA

 

My wife, Sally, and I were glad to get what we thought were Bank of America Travel Rewards chip-and-PIN cards. However, in October ’13, the chip-and-PIN feature never worked in Belgium or Switzerland, although we could swipe the cards and sign, as usual. This was a disappointment at ticket machines, etc. On second look, the cards each had the word “Signature” under the Visa logo.

With these cards, B of A did live up to its promise of a very fair exchange rate, with NO surcharges on foreign transactions. Even credit unions, etc., take a teeny 1% or more per transaction, which adds up to not a little sum.

On our return, we converted our USAA Bank World MasterCards to chip-and-PIN cards. (I was in the Army Reserve in the ’50s and ’60s. All of my children are also USAA members, although they are not in the military.)

Milton Lilie, Rye, NY

 

Bank of America states on its website, under the heading “Credit Card FAQs,” “Bank of America does not offer chip & PIN technology.”

Like Diana Haynes (Dec. ’13, pg. 2), I got a new credit card for travel, thinking I was getting a chip-and-PIN card, only to find it was a chip-and-signature card. This was a JP Morgan Select card, which Rick Steves, in his “Great Britain 2012” guide, referenced as a chip-and-PIN card. 

Nevertheless, we had no problems at all traveling in Britain, Germany and Austria in September ’13. We used the card in transit system ticket machines in London but did not have occasion to try it at an unmanned terminal in a gas station. 

It worked in one case where I wished it hadn’t. By mistake, I used this card instead of my debit card in an ATM. When asked for a PIN, I used the PIN for my debit card… and the transaction went through!

I do appreciate having this card. The JP Morgan Select was intended only for high-end customers, but I embarrassed them into giving it to me (as in, “You mail me three or four credit card offers per week, and when I finally come in to ask for one, you turn me down!”). 

Whenever you call the number, a living, breathing person answers the phone. And when I expressed my concern about chip-and-signature, they gave me a special number to call collect if I encountered any problems while overseas.

Donna Pyle
Boulder, CO