What Is EMV Technology?

EMV stands for “Europay, MasterCard, and Visa,” the three groups who began this initiative.  EMV is a new standard for storing information in credit cards. It’s an upgrade to the magnetic stripe traditionally found on the back of cards in the United States.

Instead of the stripe, your personal and account information is stored in a small electronic chip embedded in the card, where it can be read by EMV terminals.

EMV is a more secure way to store information, providing better protection against identity and credit card theft; and it will soon replace the magnetic stripe as the preferred Card Verification Method (CVM) for card-present transactions in the U.S.

Today, almost any credit card you get will include at least Chip-and-Signature technology, and may also use Chip-and-PIN. As time goes by, more and more retailers will be using terminals that accept chip cards.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Chip-and-PIN and Chip-and-Signature?

Chip-and-Signature cards require you to sign the screen or a slip of paper to authenticate the transaction. They are not as widely accepted as Chip-and-PIN outside the U.S.

Chip-and-PIN cards require you to enter a PIN with the keypad to authenticate the transaction, much like a debit card.

How do I use an EMV card to make a purchase?

Rather than sliding your card through a card reader, you will insert it into a terminal slot and wait a few moments for it to process. This has been nicknamed “card dipping.” In some cases, you may be able to use near field communication (NFC) to pay for your purchase, which allows you tap your card against the terminal and transmit data wirelessly.

Will my EMV card still have a magnetic stripe?

Many EMV cards currently include a magnetic stripe, but this will probably change as that technology is phased out.

Can a card be both Chip-And-Signature and Chip-And-PIN?

Yes. Some cards have both Chip-and-Signature and Chip-and-PIN capability. Usually, one will be the preferred method of authentication. The issuing bank determines the features of a card, whether it includes a magnetic stripe, is Chip-and-PIN, Chip-and-Signature, or some combination.

How do EMV cards help eliminate fraud?

EMV eliminates some of the ways data is stolen or replicated because the chip technology is more difficult to clone than a magnetic stripe. Any data stolen from a merchant is useless because the data is expired after it leaves the merchant’s reader. It is important to remember theft is still possible, and there are breaches in countries that use this technology, but EMV technology eliminates some of the possible ways data breaches happen.

Are Chip-and-Signature or Chip-and-PIN Cards more common in the U.S.?

Most credit cards issued in the U.S. are currently Chip-and-Signature, which is not always accepted by strictly Chip-and-PIN terminals, like some unmanned train ticket machines in Europe.

Will I be able to use my EMV card when I travel outside the U.S.?

It depends. Most countries in Europe support Chip-and-PIN cards, so if you have a one of these, you’ll likely be able to use your card wherever you go. But if you have a Chip-and-Signature card, you may run into confusion at the checkout counter or a request for additional identification.

Will debit cards switch to EMV technology?

Since consumers are accustomed to entering a PIN with debit card transactions, many banks are issuing debit cards as Chip-and-PIN, while using Chip-and-Signature for credit cards.

If I want to use my card at a retailer that doesn’t support EMV technology Yet, will it work?

Yes. All credit cards in the U.S. currently still have magnetic stripes because merchants still need time to adjust to this new technology