Categorized | Money, Tips

Smart Chip Credit Card – Do I Need It for Travel?

Posted on 11 June 2012 by David

Smart Chip Credit Card - Blue






Smart chip credit cards are finally arriving in the U.S. and it’s about time.

Never heard of them?  Well, you should and here is why.

Merchants Are Increasingly Only Accepting Smart Chip Cards

If you’re planning an international trip to Europe, Asia, or even Mexico, you should consider having a card with a smart chip.  These cards have been around for years overseas.  More merchants are accepting smart chip cards only, and are refusing to accept the cards with a magnetic strip (yep, the ones we use in the U.S.).

Just imagine this scenario.

You walk into a train station 15 minutes before the next train to your dream destination.  You pull out your favorite VISA / MasterCard / American Express (choose your own brand).  The agent at the ticket window takes a look at your card and tells you they don’t accept it because it is not a smart-chip card.  And of course, you don’t have enough cash in your pocket to cover your ticket.  Needless to say, you miss the train, and are now stuck in the station for another 4 hours until the next train.  In the meantime, you also need to find out where you can get cash to buy that ticket!

The scenario above is more common than you may think.

So, before you take off, be a savvy traveler and keep a smart chip credit card with you.

The good news is U.S. banks have been slowly introducing smart chip cards.  We received our first smart chip card from Chase when it was first introduced in Feb 2012.  You are welcome to check them out, and we will cover the list of smart chip credit cards in the U.S. tomorrow.

Besides convenience, there is another reason why you should consider switching to smart chip credit cards.

Smart Chip Credit Card - Gold

Smart Chip Credit Cards Are More Secure

Many technology and payments experts agree that smart chip credit cards are more secure.

There are two reasons for this:
  1. Copying a chip requires a lot of sophisticated equipment versus magnetic strips which can be copied with readily available devices.
  2. The embedded security on the chip makes it extremely difficult for thieves to use the data on the card even if they manage to gain access and read the data. This prevents anyone from copying your card data at a restaurant, and racking up charges all before you arrive home.

I am planning a trip to South America to finish my around the world trip I started last year. (My last leg of the trip is waiting for me!) I have been looking around for smart cards and tomorrow I’ll share with you a few top cards with smart chip technology, and a detailed comparison of their benefits: chip & signature and chip & pin.  You should also take a look at our tips on using credit cards abroad.

Have you used smart chip credit cards before?  What was your experience like?


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