Credit Cards Are Now More Secure — and Confusing

Photo (cc) by Aranami

Using a credit card in stores is now more secure. But for a little while, you might be better off paying with cash, or avoiding shopping altogether.

That’s because today is the credit card industry’s self-imposed deadline for providing cardholders with upgraded cards that contain a computer chip. They’re called EMV cards and also known as “chip cards.”

The microchip is intended to help reduce fraud. But some customers have yet to receive an EMV card, and those who have are discovering it often takes longer to check out when paying with an EMV card.

“EMV” stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, and the technology is becoming the new global standard for fighting credit-card fraud, CreditCards.com reports that the magnetic stripes on traditional credit and debit cards contain unchanging data:

Whoever accesses that data gains the sensitive card and cardholder information necessary to make purchases. That makes traditional cards prime targets for counterfeiters, who convert stolen card data to cash. …

Every time an EMV card is used for payment, the card chip creates a unique transaction code that cannot be used again. If a hacker stole the chip information from one specific point of sale, typical card duplication would never work.

But a survey by CreditCards.com found that more than 6 in 10 U.S. cardholders have yet to receive a microchip-enabled card.

People who are using EMV cards — and the people in line behind them — are learning that it takes a few seconds longer for stores’ credit-card terminals to process the new technology compared with the magnetic strip.

Cardholders also face a learning curve after receiving their upgraded cards, which are inserted into the front of the terminal rather than swiped on the side.

Justin Guinn, a market researcher at Software Advice, a company that advises businesses on payment software, tells CNN Money:

“Until consumers and retailers get used to dipping the credit card as opposed to the autonomic swiping, shoppers (and retailers) can probably expect checkout processes to take a bit longer.”

Have you experienced any issues with EMV cards? Or are you among the majority of cardholders who have yet to receive one? Sound off in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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