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Chip and PIN credit cards for Europe
Old 04-16-2014, 12:05 PM   #1
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Chip and PIN credit cards for Europe

I'm getting ready to sign up for a set of chip and PIN credit cards from PenFed.

We had a chip and signature VISA from BofA that worked very well in Europe last year EXCEPT for a few situations where you had to use a kiosk that required a PIN. Unfortunately, those few situations are kind of critical - being able to buy a train ticket or subway ticket in a small station, for example. It's a real hassle trying to work around that restriction.

FWIW - these cards also have no foreign transaction fee - another essential for foreign travel.
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Old 04-16-2014, 12:36 PM   #2
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I had issues in Belgium where I had to find an open window at the train station (not always easy) to purchase tickets with my non-chip credit card. Even the government travel CC from Citi that we're required to use isn't chipped. Seems dumb considering...

I agree that the US needs to get onboard with this, particularly with all the ways magnetic strips and numbers can be stolen these days. Not having any kind of requirement (CVV doesn't cut it) for a PIN is archaic.
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Old 04-16-2014, 12:58 PM   #3
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I'll be trying out my new chip and signature VISA from BofA in europe in about a week. Luckily, no train travel on the itinerary, so that won't be a problem.

When I was looking into chip cards last year it was unclear to me that all cards containing the security chips weren't created equal - i.e. pin and chip vs pin and signature. None of the articles I found talked about the distinction between the types of chip cards. Or maybe I just missed it.

Anyway, the BofA card I have is better than a non-chip card and the lack of foreign exchange charge (and no yearly fee) is actually the most important feature of this card to me, so I'm still fairly happy with it.

When did PenFed start offering their chip and pin card?
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Old 04-16-2014, 01:06 PM   #4
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Thanks for the reminder to do this. I'm hoping to retire/get laid off/quit sometime in the next year - and we've promised ourselves to spend the summer in Europe if this happens. Chip and Pin card was on my to do list...

I just joined PenFed (as a blood donor and charitable contributer to the American Red Cross I qualify.)
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Old 04-16-2014, 01:57 PM   #5
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I'll be trying out my new chip and signature VISA from BofA in europe in about a week. Luckily, no train travel on the itinerary, so that won't be a problem.

When I was looking into chip cards last year it was unclear to me that all cards containing the security chips weren't created equal - i.e. pin and chip vs pin and signature. None of the articles I found talked about the distinction between the types of chip cards. Or maybe I just missed it.

Anyway, the BofA card I have is better than a non-chip card and the lack of foreign exchange charge (and no yearly fee) is actually the most important feature of this card to me, so I'm still fairly happy with it.

When did PenFed start offering their chip and pin card?
Penfed had them available mid-2013 when I had to get a replacement. However, my replacement was obviously not C&P when it arrived even though I had gone through the process of selecting a PIN, so I recently requested a new C&P card and this one looks just like it should. I'll try it out in Canada in a few weeks, then Australia in July.

When you have logged onto the Penfed site there is an option to request a C&P down one side of the screen.
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Old 04-16-2014, 01:58 PM   #6
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Thanks for the reminder to do this. I'm hoping to retire/get laid off/quit sometime in the next year - and we've promised ourselves to spend the summer in Europe if this happens. Chip and Pin card was on my to do list...

I just joined PenFed (as a blood donor and charitable contributer to the American Red Cross I qualify.)
I requested the chip/pin card from PenFed a year ago. The confusing part for me was that you enter a PIN on the web site when you request the card, but I received a different PIN in the US mail a week later. Perhaps they were assigning different PINS for the legacy magnetic strip/ATM vs. the embedded chip.

The problem was that I had no easy way to test the embedded chip PIN while in the the US, short of trip to Canada, prior to my European trip.

As it turned out I came down with a nasty case of Kidney Stones including a blocked kidney prior to the European trip and thus did not travel.

If anyone has come up with a good way to test the PIN for the embedded chip in a chip/pin card in the USA I would be interested in hearing more about it.

-gauss
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:09 PM   #7
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I requested the chip/pin card from PenFed a year ago. The confusing part for me was that you enter a PIN on the web site when you request the card, but I received a different PIN in the US mail a week later. Perhaps they were assigning different PINS for the legacy magnetic strip/ATM vs. the embedded chip.

The problem was that I had no easy way to test the embedded chip PIN while in the the US, short of trip to Canada, prior to my European trip.

As it turned out I came down with a nasty case of Kidney Stones including a blocked kidney prior to the European trip and thus did not travel.

If anyone has come up with a good way to test the PIN for the embedded chip in a chip/pin card in the USA I would be interested in hearing more about it.

-gauss
That's frustrating. I just went through the same process and when the paper version of the PIN came through it did match the one I had entered on the website when requesting the card.

I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to test my card on a week long trip to Canada in May before the 4 month trip to Australia in July.
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:17 PM   #8
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Just got back from 8 weeks in Portugal and Spain. Being concerned about the need for a chip and pin card, I rushed to BoA for their chip card before leaving. It turned out to be a waste of time. My Capital One card worked in all the same places since the [B]BoA card does not have a pin. It is only a chip.

I went to the PenFed site and I am not sure they have a pin. I thought I was getting a pin with my BoA credit card when I applied. PenFed does not say on their site that they will provide a pin, just a chip. But, I have not called them and audrehy1, you may have already checked that out.

On other posts about security, I have been suggesting we call our financial institutions and tell them we would like two step verification. The pin credit card is an example. It is time the USA got on board with this and one way to make it happen is for folks like us to demand it or when an institution finally offers it, switch to them.
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:41 PM   #9
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I spent some time in the US this month and it felt like a blast from the past NOT to use the chip and PIN!
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:44 PM   #10
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I used a chip and pin card from SDFCU at metro terminals without a problem in Paris last year.
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Old 04-16-2014, 03:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gauss View Post
I requested the chip/pin card from PenFed a year ago. The confusing part for me was that you enter a PIN on the web site when you request the card, but I received a different PIN in the US mail a week later. Perhaps they were assigning different PINS for the legacy magnetic strip/ATM vs. the embedded chip.
Heh. Sounds a lot like my confusion with BofA. They sent me a PIN too. "Cool! I'm all set for Chip and PIN". But after rereading their ever so easy to read letter a few times, I realized that the PIN was for using it in an ATM for cash. Not for chip and pin operation. At least there isn't any foreign exchange fee.
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Old 04-16-2014, 03:26 PM   #12
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Chip and pin has been around for a few years now. We will probably see a new generation of card security soon. Perhaps the US financial institutions will skip a technology generation and just move to the next gen.
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Old 04-16-2014, 03:33 PM   #13
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I have a BofA chip card, but it does not have a pin. I used it on a trip to Canada and apparently, when swiped, it automatically defaulted to approved and no pin was required.
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Old 04-16-2014, 03:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpeirce View Post
I'll be trying out my new chip and signature VISA from BofA in europe in about a week. Luckily, no train travel on the itinerary, so that won't be a problem.

When I was looking into chip cards last year it was unclear to me that all cards containing the security chips weren't created equal - i.e. pin and chip vs pin and signature. None of the articles I found talked about the distinction between the types of chip cards. Or maybe I just missed it.

Anyway, the BofA card I have is better than a non-chip card and the lack of foreign exchange charge (and no yearly fee) is actually the most important feature of this card to me, so I'm still fairly happy with it.

When did PenFed start offering their chip and pin card?
Yes - the only thing the BofA card is missing is the ability to use PIN entry instead of signature. You push your card into the reader machines in Europe, and instead of prompting you to enter a PIN, they spit out an extra receipt for you to sign and give to the cashier. This works fine as long as there is a human attendant. But there are times you want to be able to purchase something at an automated kiosk, and without ability to enter PIN it's a no go.

There are also the occasional rude counter in the Amsterdam railway stations where they pretty much tell you "no PIN, no play" even though I suspect the chip and signature would work just fine, but they don't want to deal with you. At least the main counter for international tickets specified you had to have a "chip" card, but handled chip and signature just fine.

The BofA card has a PIN - but that is only for use in ATMs, for cash advances. And you really don't want to use it that way because there are pretty high fees involved.

PenFed has been offering these cards for over a year now. A couple other credit unions offer chip and PIN cards, but most regular banks are only offering the chip and signature, which is an annoying departure from the "norm" in Europe.
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Old 04-16-2014, 03:41 PM   #15
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I have a BofA chip card, but it does not have a pin. I used it on a trip to Canada and apparently, when swiped, it automatically defaulted to approved and no pin was required.
If you swiped it then it was the magnetic stripe that was in play. With the CHIP you push in the card to a different slot and leave it place while the details are read and PIN entered (if needed).
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Old 04-16-2014, 03:42 PM   #16
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Any idea why the the US banks are offering chip and signature and not chip and PIN? I woild imagine that the main reason to get one these cards is for use overseas and so why not go the extra step and offer the PIN version. If PenFed can do why can't the others?

All I can figure is there is an additional cost they don't want to pay.
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Old 04-16-2014, 03:45 PM   #17
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If you swiped it then it was the magnetic stripe that was in play. With the CHIP you push in the card to a different slot and leave it place while the details are read and PIN entered (if needed).
+1

About 1000 Walmart stores have chip and pin machines up and running, and if they detect that it is a chip card, they actually require you to push the card into the slot for chip and pin cards.

But they don't require the PINs for low dollar amounts. Someone recently said they paid $130 at Walmart, and they still didn't require a PIN to be entered. So it's kind of hard to test the PIN in the US if they don't require the PIN!
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Old 04-16-2014, 03:51 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by mpeirce View Post
Any idea why the the US banks are offering chip and signature and not chip and PIN? I woild imagine that the main reason to get one these cards is for use overseas and so why not go the extra step and offer the PIN version. If PenFed can do why can't the others?

All I can figure is there is an additional cost they don't want to pay.
One thing that may be going on, and Walmart has been fighting this, is that issuing banks are worried that with PIN technology implemented, merchants may insist on a lowering of the interchange fees that banks charge for processing credit card transactions in the US as the transactions will become more secure.

Walmart has been fighting to get the interchange fees lowered, and they've had chip and pin POS technology in their stores for a long time, just not all turned on.

Pretty funny, huh?
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Old 04-16-2014, 03:55 PM   #19
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Any idea why the the US banks are offering chip and signature and not chip and PIN? I woild imagine that the main reason to get one these cards is for use overseas and so why not go the extra step and offer the PIN version. If PenFed can do why can't the others?

All I can figure is there is an additional cost they don't want to pay.
I don't understand either, even a global company like Amex only does CHIP and signature. While PIN reading machines may be more expensive it surely can't cost much more to add the PIN feature for the banks customers who travel abroad, and there are many business travelers abroad who would welcome having the feature for their employees.
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Chip and PIN credit cards for Europe
Old 04-16-2014, 07:10 PM   #20
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Chip and PIN credit cards for Europe

Quote:
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If you swiped it then it was the magnetic stripe that was in play. With the CHIP you push in the card to a different slot and leave it place while the details are read and PIN entered (if needed).

I may have used the wrong word to describe the process. The server put my card into the same portable device used for Canadians, then made a surprised noise and it printed out my receipt. No pin was entered and I did not sign anything. But the handheld machine switched to French language for some reason. :-)
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