What is an EMV Credit Card?

/ BY / Credit Cards

Beginning in October 2015, credit card users in the U.S. will soon start using a different type of credit card to make purchases.

EMV cards, sometimes called smartcards, are significantly more secure than magnetic strip credit cards. As a result, fraudulent purchases are expected to drop substantially.

As more merchants begin their transaction to EMV technology, here are a few things you need to know about EMV credit cards and how they work.

What is an EMV credit card? 

EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa. It's a type of credit card that has a computer chip rather than a magnetic strip common on most cards in the U.S. The embedded chip found in EMV credit cards encrypts the data for each transaction differently, making it harder for credit card fraud to occur. 

With an EMV credit card, you can either enter a PIN number or sign, just like you currently do with a bank-issued credit card. 

What are the benefits of an EMV credit card?

EMV credit cards have two main benefits over magnetic stripe cards: 

  • Security. Magnetic strip credit cards have been the cause of several major data breaches in the United States in recent years. The information stored on the card is static and fairly easy to steal for savvy thieves. EMV credit cards encrypt the data and provide unique transaction codes that provide much greater security. In fact, in the United Kingdom, credit card fraud fell by over 60% once EMV cards were implemented. 
  • Convenience. EMV cards are now considered a worldwide standard, and many countries won't even accept magnetic strip cards due to security concerns. An EMV card makes it easier to travel internationally. This is especially true for those who have "chip and pin" cards, which allow you to input a PIN instead of signing. 

How do I use an EMV credit card? 

Using an EMV credit card will be very similar to using a traditional debit or credit card. There are currently two different ways you can use an EMV credit card, depending on the device the business is using. These include: 

  • Tapping or waving the card in front of the card reader 
  • Inserting or "dipping" the card into the card reader, and then entering a PIN number to unlock the card's information.

Some cards will require you to provide a signature instead of providing a PIN. However, the "Chip and PIN" method is preferred as it is the most commonly-used method internationally. 

When will I get an EMV credit card?

Many banks and credit card companies have already begun issuing EMV credit cards for new customers or those whose cards have expired. However, they also include the magnetic stripe that you’re already used to using. Until the transition to EMV is complete, you’ll still be able to swipe your card at a credit card reader.

As the shift to EMV credit card use in the United States draws closer, your bank or credit card company will provide you additional information. 

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