As the deadline for EMV chip availability looms closer, some issuers already have begun offering EMV chips in their credit cards. One such issuer is Citibank, which is putting chips in all of its new consumer and college credit cards and offering free upgrades to existing CitiCard cardholders. Here’s what you need to know about EMV chip credit cards and the issuers offering them.
What’s an EMV chip, and why is it important?
EMV was created by Europay, MasterCard and Visa. Cards with EMV technology contain a secure microchip for transmitting data. This EMV chip processes dozens of pieces of information between the card, terminal and acquiring bank’s host, whereas the typical credit card magstripe processes only limited data.
EMV transactions are more secure, and identity theft is less likely to occur. An EMV chip keeps your information from being easily skimmed and transferred to prepaid cards.
In recent years, EMV cards have been used heavily overseas. They are the global standard for credit and debit card transactions, and those countries that have adopted EMV technology have seen a drop in domestic fraud.
The United States is following suit. Starting in October 2015, U.S. issuers and merchants who don’t support EMV will be held liable for any occurrences of related fraud. To prepare, some issuers — like Citi — are making EMV cards available well before the deadline.
Chip-and-signature vs. chip-and-PIN: What’s the difference?
EMV cards have two different types of card verification methods (CVMs) — chip-and-signature and chip-and-PIN. Chip-and-signature cards are verified with a signature, while chip-and-PIN cards are verified with a four- to six-digit PIN.
Chip-and-PIN cards have been more prevalent in Europe, while the United States tends to favor chip-and-signature. Citibank cards use a chip-and-signature CVM. Critics of chip-and-signature point out that a chip-and-PIN CVM is more secure, but chip-and-signature is cheaper and easier to implement, so it will have to do for now.
Which CitiCards have chip options?
All of them! If you apply and are approved for a new CitiCard, it will have a small silver chip visible above your card number. If you already have a CitiCard, and it doesn’t have an EMV chip, you can click here to upgrade your card for free at any time and still retain the same cardholder benefits and account number.
Recommended CitiCards for travelers
Traveling overseas soon and need an EMV card? Here’s one of our favorite CitiCards that’s particularly popular with international travelers:
Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card cardholders enjoy bonus points for travel purchases and an awesome signup bonus: Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio after you make $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening*.
Chip image via Shutterstock