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EMV Chip Security Explained and Which Credit Cards Have It

We stand as witnesses to a major change in how we pay for things with our credit cards. It comes in the form of a small chip called an EMV chip.

The chip, which select consumers already have on their cards today, is designed to better protect your information whenever you use your card at a store.

How does it work and where can you get an EMV-chip credit card? Let us fill you in.

emv credit cards image

What Does ‘EMV’ Stand For?

EMV is short for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the three global card companies that originally developed the new security standard for payment cards in 1995.

It is widely regarded as the safer card technology compared to the traditional magnetic strip that you see in most U.S. credit cards today.

Embedded in your cards, EMV chips are read by inserting a card at the payment terminal (similar to using a debit card at the ATM), as opposed to swiping.

Basically, the chip scrambles the transaction information when you make a purchase.

Even if someone stole that information, it would be extremely difficult to use the data to commit fraud, usually in the form of unauthorized purchases.

Considering the string of data breaches — having affected Target, Home Depot and more — that have plagued retailers, banks and consumers in the past year, think about the headaches that would have been saved by EMV chip technology.

EMV to Become the U.S. Standard

If EMV is the better way to go, why aren’t all our credit cards already equipped with it? Well, the U.S. hasn’t found a big enough of a reason to ditch the traditional magnetic strip on payment cards, until recently. Those data breaches surely played a role in emphasizing the need for a more secure card payments.

In fact, EMV chips are already the standard card technology for many foreign countries, especially Europe, where card fraud got out of control. The U.S. is just playing catch-up, after being criticized for being late to the party.

So, these are the two major reasons that we should switch over from magnetic strips:

  1. Safer in-store shopping
  2. Card acceptance when traveling outside the U.S.

Fortunately, we will soon see many more credit cards with EMV chips because of the concerted effort by the four big U.S. card processing networks.

In policies that will take effect in late 2015, American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa will make card issuers and/or merchants absorb the losses that come from fraudulent purchases if they don’t offer EMV-chip credit cards (card issuers) or don’t accept them (merchants). The rules will apply at a later date for gas stations.

Card issuers and merchants who don’t want to foot the bill for fraud would want to ensure that purchases were made through EMV-chip cards.

See the upcoming policy changes for each of these card payment networks:

Card networkRule for shift in fraud liabilityDeadline
American ExpressLiability for certain types of fraudulent transactions will shift away from the party (card issuer or merchant) that has the most secure form of EMV technology.Oct. 1, 2015 (Oct. 1, 2017 for gas stations)
DiscoverLiability for fraudulent transactions will shift away from the party (card issuer or merchant) that has the highest level of payment security.Oct. 1, 2015 (Oct. 1, 2017 for gas stations)
MasterCardThe party (card issuer or merchant) that made the investment to process EMV chip transactions will be protected from financial liability on card-present fraud losses.Oct. 1, 2015 (Oct. 1, 2017 for gas stations)
VisaThe party (card issuer or merchant) that is the cause of a chip-on-chip transaction not occurring will be financially liable for card-present fraud losses.Oct. 1, 2015 (Oct. 1, 2017 for gas stations)

Find an EMV-chip Credit Card

Many of the largest U.S. credit card issuers have begun to offer EMV-chip versions of their credit cards. American Express, Chase and Citibank are a few of the big names doing this.

You’re more likely to find the chips in travel credit cards because you’re more likely to find merchants that require EMV-chip cards when traveling abroad.

There are actually two types of EMV-chip cards: chip-and-signature and chip-and-PIN. The differences may be obvious. Chip-and-signature would require just a signature when making purchases. Chip-and-PIN would require you to enter a number that only you would know.

Since a signature is easy to fake, chip-and-PIN is considered the safer of the two types. Currently, most EMV-chip cards in the U.S. are chip-and-signature cards. People are calling for chip-and-PIN, however, because of the added security.

Some banks are picking up on the demand. Chase, for instance, issued chip-and-PIN credit cards in late 2014 — the bank has been handing out chip-and-signature cards for a few years already.

Below, you’ll find a comprehensive list of the EMV-chip credit cards that are currently available in the U.S. If you have a card that is available with an EMV chip, you should call the phone number on the back of your card and request an upgraded card.

Financial institutionCard(s)Type of EMV chip
Alliant Credit UnionPlatinum and Platinum RewardsChip-and-signature
American ExpressNearly all American Express charge and credit cardsChip-and-signature
Andrews FCUGlobeTrek RewardsChip-and-signature/chip-and-PIN
Barclaycard/Bank of HawaiiHawaiian AirlinesChip-and-signature/chip-and-PIN
BMO Harris BankDiners ClubChip-and-PIN
Capital OneVentureChip-and-signature
Charles SchwabCharles Schwab Bank VISA Debit cardChip-and-signature
ChaseChase Freedom®Chip-and-signature
ChaseMarriott Rewards PremierChip-and-signature
ChaseBritish AirwaysChip-and-signature
ChaseJ.P. Morgan SelectChip-and-signature
ChaseJ.P. Morgan PalladiumChip-and-signature
ChaseSapphire PreferredChip-and-signature
CitibankPlatinum SelectChip-and-signature
CitibankThankYou PreferredChip-and-signature
CitibankDiamond PreferredChip-and-signature
CitibankAAdvantage GoldChip-and-signature
CitibankAAdvantage Platinum (Visa)Chip-and-signature
CitibankAAdvantage Platinum (MasterCard)Chip-and-signature
CitibankHilton Honors ReserveChip-and-signature
CitibankThankYou PremierChip-and-signature
CitibankAAdvantage ExecutiveChip-and-signature
City National BankPlatinumChip-and-signature
City National BankSignatureChip-and-signature
City National BankCrystalChip-and-signature
Commerce BankVisa SignatureChip-and-signature/chip-and-PIN
FidelityAmerican ExpressChip-and-signature
HSBCPremier World MasterCard®Chip-and-signature
HSBCPlatinum with Cash or Fly RewardsChip-and-signature
NC SECUVisa Check Debit CardChip-and-signature
PenFedPlatinum Cash RewardsChip-and-signature/chip-and-PIN
PNCPNC Premier Traveler ReserveChip-and-signature
PNCPNC Premier TravelerChip-and-signature
Sam's Club/GE CapitalSam's Club MastercardChip-and-signature
Star One Credit UnionVisa ClassicChip-and-signature
State Dept. FCUPlatinum RewardsChip-and-signature/chip-and-PIN
US BankPerks+Chip-and-signature
US BankFlexPerks Travel RewardsChip-and-signature
US BankKoreanAir SkyPass ClassicChip-and-signature
US BankKoreanAir SkyPass SecuredChip-and-signature
US BankKoreanAir SkyPass SignatureChip-and-signature
USAACash Rewards World MasterCard®Chip-and-signature/chip-and-PIN
WalmartWalmart MasterCardChip-and-signature
Wells FargoPlatinumChip-and-signature/chip-and-PIN
Wells FargoRewardsChip-and-signature/chip-and-PIN
Wells FargoCash BackChip-and-signature/chip-and-PIN
Wells FargoPropel World American ExpressChip-and-signature/chip-and-PIN
Wings FinancialVisa SignatureChip-and-signature/chip-and-PIN

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