Cultural Italy Blog: Art, Coffee & Love

Chip-and-PIN credit cards


Very soon, before traveling to Italy and Europe in general, you may want to take into consideration upgrading your magnetic-stripe credit cards to a chip-and-PIN card, as less and less merchants have been accepting the swipe and sign credit cards. This type of card looks and feels much like US credit cards, however, instead of using a magnetic stripe to store data, it stores financial information on the embedded microchip which is uniquely encrypted and therefore cannot be cloned.

Europe began adopting chip-and-PIN cards in 2004 and now more than 80 countries use them. 

Like magnetic-stripe credit cards, chip-and-PIN cards can be used in person, online or over the telephone. When in a store, you simply insert your chip-and-PIN card into a point-of-sale (POS) terminal machine and leave it throughout the transaction. Once the card is read, you are prompted to enter your PIN number to authenticate the transaction. As you can see, this a 2 way-process of card identification, and therefore more secure. Then a receipt is printed and no signature is required, as your PIN – just like for debit cards and ATM transactions in the U.S. – serves as your “digital signature”.

If you instead need to purchase something online or over the phone, you will be required – depending on your credit card company – to either key in the three-digit security code on the back of their card or a secure password provided by the card provider.

Are Americans are ready for the switch? U.S. consumers are thought not to be in a hurry to get the chip-and-PIN system cards, also known as the EMV cards, as users are almost never responsible for fraudulent charges if their card is stolen or lost. This policy regarding consumer liability will be implemented on the new EMV cards as well. It’s been said that by October 2015 Visa, MasterCard, AmEx and Discover will institute a “fraud liability shift”: this means that if a consumer’s card is involved in fraud, the party involved in the transaction (either the bank that issued the card or the merchant that accepted it) that didn’t upgrade to the EMV system will be held accountable.

The decision of credit card companies and banks to begin replacing magnetic stripe cards will be hastened partly by the growing need of many Americans travelling to Europe and discovering that their “normal” cards are no longer accepted. So here are a list of credit card companies now offering U.S. EMV card offering EMV cards:

•    The PenFed Visa is a true chip and pin – and they offer rewards AND no foreign transaction fee;
•    USAA now has a chip and pin MC with a 1% foreign transaction fee.
• has a chip card and no foreign transaction fees or annual fees;
•    American Express Platinum Card offers the AmEx Platinum with chip and pin; you can request this version after you’ve already been approved and received the regular version in the mail, but there is no additional cost for this request;
•    Bank of America issued BankAmericard Travel Rewards and BankAmericard Cash Rewards;
•    Citi Citi offers ThankYou cards, Hilton HHonors Reserve, AAdvantage;
•    Jp Morgan Chase: Sapphire Preferred, Marriott Rewards Premier, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, Hyatt Credit Card, JPMorgan Palladium, British Airways Visa Signature.

See more Money and tipping related recommendations here.

Happy Travels!

Nicoletta Lucia Paganucci