Finally a major US credit card with Chip + PIN!

Credit and debit cards with a chip in them have been the norm in Europe for years. In various travel situations (most notably automatic ticket machines) it can be downright maddening to have a wallet full of cards and none of them work. A few US card issuers started including the chips, but they opted for a slightly different standard called "Chip + Signature", whereby your card is authenticated with the chip, but a traditional signed paper receipt is required to complete the transaction. (NOTE: all of these cards include a traditional magnetic stripe so they can be easily used in the USA). While this helps out quite a bit, it still leaves you stranded at the ticket machines (which work ONLY with Chip + PIN cards).

Given that the USA is supposed to completely switch over by October of 2015, it's surprising to me that no major US credit card company has issued a Chip + PIN card until now. When the big commercial travel bloggers got wind of it, they knew EXACTLY what the "acid test" was: French ticket machine trauma :) Once I heard it had passed the test I got myself a Barclays Arrival card and can personally add to the list of battle-tested locations:
  • London Oyster card machine (pin)
  • London Emirates Sky tram ticket machine (pin)
  • Transport for London staffed window (sig)
  • Spanish Renfe long distance train ticket machine (pin)
  • onboard cafe on Spanish AVE train (sig)
  • Madrid metro ticket machine (pin)
It seems that the card only runs in Chip + PIN mode when there is no Chip + Signature option available. Basically everywhere I went that was staffed, I was offered a piece of paper to sign. 

While I've not seen any visible signs of the big transition to EMV Chip cards in the US next October, I did see this article today, saying that Square is now coming out with a chip-enabled reader. Square is popular with small, hip businesses but they recently added Starbucks as a major customer, so this transition may happen after all. 

Square is launching an EMV Chip-enabled reader


  1. Several credit unions have been doing chip and pin cards for a few years now. I have one from PenFed.


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