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What is Chip and PIN technology? (And when does it come in handy?)

You may have heard the term "Chip and PIN" technology before, maybe on our site or elsewhere while skimming the morning news. Odds are, you had no idea what that was, and you may have just overlooked the whole term entirely. We don't blame you, but we are here to help.

Chip and PIN technology is essentially what credit cards have begun using to make them more secure and better protected against fraud. The "Chip" is literally a computer chip that's been imbedded into your card, and the PIN is your personal identification number - yes, the same type of PIN you use when ringing up your debit card.

The Chip part of the Chip and PIN technology actually replaces the magnetic stripe common on most American credit cards. Unfortunately, this has been known to get tricky for American tourists traveling abroad. Why? Because Chip and PIN technology has been common in Europe and other foreign countries since the mid 2000's.

Chip and PIN is more or less the metric system of credit cards; Americans have heard for years that it's coming, but we'll believe it when we see it.

That said, if you want peace of mind when traveling abroad this summer, it's worth considering a credit card that features Chip and PIN technology in case you find yourself in an emergency situation in which your semi-obsolete magnetic stripe credit card is just not an option. Most cashiers in Europe accept magnetic stripe credit cards, but you don't want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere at the one store that doesn't. It happens, people.

If you're in search of such a card (and if you're traveling abroad, we recommend you do), there are a handful of travel rewards credit cards that advertise this technology. The Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Card is one such credit card, as is the Chase British Airways Visa Signature Card (and no foreign transaction fees to boot). According to CreditCardForum.com AmEx Platinum members can also request this technology.

Chip and PIN cards allow you to be safe rather than sorry when traveling in a foreign land, and who doesn't like that kind of peace of mind?

on Tue, 2013-04-02 16:17