Categorized | Money, Tips

Smart Chip Credit Cards You Can Apply for in the U.S.

Posted on 12 June 2012 by David

Smart Chip Credit Card - Gold
Smart chip credit cards are finally coming to the U.S.  In yesterday’s post, we discussed why you need a smart card for your travels.  What we didn’t tell you was that there are two major types of smart chip cards you should be aware of.

Don’t worry, figuring out which one works best for you is not as confusing as you might think.  Let us explain.

Not all smart chip credit cards are created equal

When looking for a smart card, you need to know that there are “chip-and-pin” and “chip-and-signature” cards.

  • Chip-and-pin cards allow you to use automated kiosks that require you to enter a pin number at point of sale.  No signature required for any purchase.
  • Chip-and-signature cards on the other hand, require a signature for purchases but no PIN.  They’re just like your typical magnetic strip card.  However, since these cards do not require a PIN they may not function on some automated kiosks that require you to enter a PIN.
    Tip: If prompted for a PIN by a kiosk, just pressing enter may work on some machines.

Which one do I need?

Either card will work for most purposes since merchant point of sale devices can generally handle both types of cards .  However, to be extra sure that you’re not going to be stranded at an automated kiosk, you may want to carry a chip-and-pin card, just in case.

Below are a few consumer cards that you may want to take a look at.

We do not have all of the cards below.  So if you end up getting one of these cards, please tell us your experience.  We would love to hear them!

Smart Chip Credit Card - Blue


Chip-and-signature cards

A detailed comparison of chip and signature cards here.

Chip-and-pin cards

There are not that many personal credit cards with chip-and-pin.   I found two.  If you find any not on this list let us know!

Tomorrow, we will share with you some tips on using credit cards around the world.
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9 Comments For This Post

  1. Janet Hoover Says:

    THANK YOU! This is so helpful! We’ll be trying to get one of these asap as our trip to France is next month. Keep your fingers crossed we get it in time!.

  2. Danica Says:

    Thank you. If you want to expedite, trying calling the bank (application line), tell them you have a trip coming up, and you want to put all your travel spend on the new card, and see if they can expedite the process. We have done it with some of our cards before, some banks are willing to do it and will even fedex your card the next day (yep, the card comes in a nice fedex envelope). Good luck and let us know your experience when you are back.

  3. Janet Hoover Says:

    FYI – I tried to apply to both The Andrews Fed Credit Union & The UN Fed Credit Union – you have to be a member or employee to apply –

  4. David Says:

    The good news is that Andrews allows anyone to become a member by first becoming a member of the American Consumer Council Membership Application ( Membership is free for ACC. Once you have that you can join Andrews. $5 gets you membership for life. Then you’re able to get the card.

    phew. Who knew you had to go through so many hoops to get a credit card?

    I’ll be applying for the card this in the near future and I’ll do a writeup on the process.

  5. onthegroundtravel Says:

    @Janet That’s correct. The UN Fed Credit Union requires you to be affiliated with UN to apply. It seems like you will be forced to be pre-enrolled into their term life insurance product with their credit card. So we don’t actually recommend it. See post here on our review of the UN credit card here.

    On the Andrews card, it will take a few more steps, but you can be a member for free. Here are the steps:

    To join Andrews Credit Union, please
    1) click “Join Now” on top
    2) click “Personal Membership” on the right side
    3) then click the “ACC” link in the middle
    4) Fill out the form
    5) After that, you will need to open a savings account and deposit $5 (there is no ongoing fees, but you must make 1 transaction a year to maintain the account)
    6) You are done! Process should take 2-3 business days.

    * Before you open the savings account, you should kickstart the credit card application after the ACC step (#4 above), this will get you the pre-approval while your savings account is in process. Once the savings account is set up, then call Andrews Credit Union to finish the application. Once you are approved, you will get the card in 7-10 business days.

  6. Sean Says:

    The State Department FCU announced the debut of their EMV card which I’ve heard is chip and pin and has 0% foreign transaction fees. Like the Andrews FCU, membership is required and can be obtained via membership affiliation with the American Consumer Council.

    I read on that a representative from the SDFCU will call you to verify information and it is then that you request the EMV chip and pin card.

    Have you had an opportunity to evaluate this one yet? I was hoping getting it may be less involved than the Andrews FCU process.


  7. onthegroundtravel Says:

    @Sean – Thanks for the tips. We haven’t had a chance to review this card yet, but will do and report back shortly! Stay tuned.

  8. Sean Says:

    No problem. I had just returned from Stockholm and was unable to rent a storage locker using my swipe credit card. I also couldn’t buy tickets at unmanned kiosks. It was very frustrating! I won’t be going overseas again until next year, but when I do, I intend to have a chip and pin card. I will wait a bit to decide just in case one of my existing credit cards or my credit union begin to offer one.

  9. pam Says:

    I have not seen these machines in my town when I go shopping, do they work in a striptype machine??

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