How to Use a Chip Card

Image via USA Today

Have you recently received a “chip card” from your bank? If you have, you might be wondering exactly what a chip card is and how to use it. Chip cards, also called smart cards and ICC cards, have tiny circuits embedded in plastic that contain certain personal data that help with authentication and security.

What are chip cards?

Image via QB Services

The United States finally accepted chip cards in 2014. Previously, the US believed that enough security measures were in place to prevent credit card theft. But, after a string of hacks and data breaches, chip technology was quickly approved. Target was one of the first stores to implement this technology, driven by the massive data breach that they experienced in late 2013. Another advantage to the smart cards is that other countries have already implemented the technology, making international purchases easier. In fact, because European nations were some of the first to adopt the technology, chip card systems are officially called EMV, which stands for the Europay, MasterCard, & Visa standards put in place when the first chip cards came out.

Why chips cards?

Image via USA Today

Chip cards help defend against hacks and data breaches by eliminating the need for retailers to store customer information on their servers. Criminals who hack a retailer that hasn’t implemented the chip technology can use customer data to create fraudulent cards. However, a merchant that has chip data stored on their servers will become a less likely target for hackers because chip data can’t be used to make fake cards. With chip cards, information isn’t stored on the magnetic strip located on the back of the card, but rather on the computer chip embedded on the front, which generates a unique, one-time code every time a purchase is made.

Image via World Now

Now that chip cards are becoming more and more common, and will eventually replace ordinary credit and debit cards, the public needs to know how to use them. There has been a lot of confusion at major retailers recently, causing holdups, setbacks, and delays. But consumers aren’t the only ones causing problems: retailers that are slow to get their systems up and running are also causing confusion among shoppers.

How do I avoid chip card confusion in the checkout line?

Image via Shopper Reception

First and foremost, determine what type of payment system you’ll be using. If there isn’t a slot beneath the pinpad, just swipe your card like normal. If you will be using a chip card reader, wait until your purchases have been rung up. Then, turn your card sideways so that the chip is facing the keypad. Insert your card into the slot, let go, and wait. After a few seconds, the screen should prompt you to remove your card. You’re done! Your purchases have been paid for.

(Sources: Wikipedia, USA Today)


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