EMV Credit Cards – Everything You Need to Know

Recently banks and credit card companies have reissued customers’ cards, replacing them with updated expiration dates — and EMV chip technology. EMVs were added to credit and debits cards to improve credit card security, but come with a bit of a learning curve. If you’re new to EMV chips, read on for a quick primer on EMV credit cards.

EMV Credit Cards - Europay Visa MasterCard

What Is An EMV Chip?

EMV is named after developers Europay, MasterCard, and Visa. Your EMV chip card looks exactly like a regular credit or debit card, except for the reflective chip on the front of the card, usually located on the left-hand side. EMV chips were created as a global standard to make it harder for identity thieves to steal your information. A chip card is not the same thing as Tap and Go technology.

Previously, criminals could simply walk by you and, use a special machine, could read your credit cards in your wallet and access your account and social security number. Though dishonest people will always find a way to steal, EMV credit cards are the first worldwide measure to fight identity fraud.

Why Do Cards Have Chips?

Your EMV chip card is an embedded chip that encrypts and stores data right on your credit or debit card, or even your mobile phone. It’s meant to replace the traditional magnetic stripe — the black or dark brown stripe that runs across the back top of your card. The chip stores information in a different, more secure way. EMV chip cards are meant to protect consumers against a credit card skimmer.

Think of the strip as a mirror; anyone passing by it can easily read your information. The chip, however, acts more like a pond that is constantly changing beneath the surface. EMV credit cards are currently the most secure way to pay, both worldwide and across the country.

How Does the Chip In EMV Credit Cards Work?

Specifically, how does chip-enabled card acceptance work? EMV chips work by interacting with the card reader. Instead of swiping your card through the magnetic strip reader, EMV credit cards are inserted into a slot at the front of the machine. The process is a bit slower than an old fashioned swipe but remember: EMV chips are worth the wait because they protect your credit card data.

Where the old strip method supplied the same authentication code for every single transaction, EMV credit cards generate a new code for each use. When the terminal is done interacting with your card, the reader will let you know that it’s safe to remove.

How Do You Use a Chip Card?

The card reader will walk you through how to use EMV credit cards. Simply follow the instructions on the screen. As described above, you’ll insert your card into the front slot. EMV chips must be face up to be read properly, or the machine will reject the read, and you will have to insert it again.

EMV credit cards take a few seconds longer than traditional cards and have to remain inside the reader for the transaction to be successful. You’ll be prompted on the screen to select a credit or debit transaction. Just like with traditional debit cards, you also have the option to request cash back. Transactions using EMV credit cards do not require your signature, as the chip itself acts as a digital signature using that unique code.

If the store you are shopping at does not have a chip-enabled card reader, you can just swipe it as usual, and follow the machine’s on-screen prompts. When using your card in an online transaction, you will simply enter your card number, expiration date, and security code as usual.

How Does the New Chip Protect My Information?

The authentication that EMV credit cards use has been around for over a decade and is already being used in over 80 countries around the world. Because the chip is a microprocessor — or tiny computer — it interacts with your financial institution and generates a unique security code during every transaction to protect and deliver your information. It will never use the same code twice, making it tough to duplicate or steal.

Will My Old Card Still Work?

Once your bank or credit card company has issued a card with an EMV chip, your old card will be automatically deactivated and you won’t be able to use it — nor will anyone else. To be safe, though, you can cut your card into pieces with scissors, or bring it into your bank to be properly disposed of.

If your new card is on its way, your bank or credit card company will more than likely keep your old card active for a limited time. Once you activate the new card, the old one will no longer work. Check with your financial institution for more details on their specific EMV chip and card replacement procedures.

EMV chips make credit and debit cards more secure. Giving your financial information and identity better protection against unauthorized credit card charges. This gives you peace of mind. Now that you know what an EMV chip is, how it works, and how to use it, you can take care of business confidently and securely.

Monica Kowollik


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