Monday, October 19, 2015

Finally: the Chip and PIN in the US ... sort of.

In today's chapter of Brigid Remains Completely Culture Shocked by America...

Businesses around America (my own included) have been warned that, by the beginning of this month, we could be held liable for any transactions we do via magnetic swipe cards. By October 1, we were supposed to be set up to take the new EMV aka "chip" credit cards.

My faithful readers in Europe (about 30% of you) may spit out your tea or whisky at the thought that America -- yes, America -- is only just now, in October of 2015, switching to the Chip readers.

You see, it's been at least 15 years since Europe made the switch to those credit cards, while America has continued to swipe and sign. When travelling abroad, you'll even find that some places don't accept the swipe cards at all (generally because the shopkeeper has no idea how to complete such a transaction). If you do figure out how, you have to sign the slip. You had better have signed the back of your credit card and have your passport with you as ID, or prepare to have your card cut up and receive dirty looks as if you might be a criminal. (Personal experience.)

The chip & PIN cards are, indeed, more secure than the magenetic swipe & sign. When you "pop in" your chip card in Europe, you are prompted to then enter your PIN. Only then will the transaction complete. With the old swipe card, you can sign "Elvis" on the screen, and you can still completely your purchase (Again: personal experience.)

Anyway, the switch should be a good thing, overall, considering if someone steals your wallet, they theoretically wouldn't be able to go buy $700 worth of junk at Target because they wouldn't know your PIN!

Except here's the insane thing: the Chip card readers in America (at the four different establishments where I've used my new card) haven't actually asked for my PIN at all!

I have asked the store clerk, "Where do I enter my PIN?"

They either have looked at me blankly or replied, "You don't have to enter or sign anything."

I am generally a huge proponent for change, but ?!?!?!?!?

In happier times, I stopped doing my Saturday classes at Mama's Hip because I need my weekends back. But I'm still there on Wednesdays ... bring your littles in for some egg shaking and dancing:


  1. On my last European trip, I was warning everyone that Americans are about to bring down the world economy because the cashiers over here have no idea how to use the new POS machines and WE. CAN'T. BUY. ANYTHING. Two failed trips to Target in the last month!

    1. Ha! I like how at Target, when it DOES work, it makes this awful beep-beep sounds that totally sounds as if your card was declined. And then it's all good. But, yeah, I have had a few failed trips myself. So absurd. At least we have cards that won't earn us quizzical looks abroad (i hope?).

  2. nowadays, in scotland we can just wave the cards at the machines for up to £30- 3x a day!! woo- progress!

    1. That is excellent! A lot of places take Apple Pay here, so that's a fun pay-with-your-phone thing. But I am still baffled by the chip+no-PIN cards:)