Chip-and-pin cards in the U.S.?
December 2, 2011 9:01 AM   Subscribe

How can I get a chip-and-pin card in the United States?

My spouse and I have had the worst time trying to get the European-style chip and pin cards (EVM?) in the U.S. Googling turned up the news that Bank of America offered them, so we applied for a credit card and requested the chip and pin cards for use overseas. We've each spoken to at least three people at Bank of America customer service who claimed to know what these cards were and said they would send them out to us. So far, we've gotten these little detachable chips (RFID?) that you can wave over a register point to pay for things. What we need are the cards that are compatible with European vending machines/credit card machines for when we are overseas.

We've also tried contacting banks overseas to find out if we could open an account there and get a chip and pin debit card, but most of the banks have told us we'd need to come into the branch office to open an account (mostly in the UK, since neither of us is proficient enough in French to explain our situation to the banks there). If it matters, my spouse has a French passport in addition to his USian one. Ideally, we'd prefer a credit card with chip and pin capability to maintaining a checking account overseas.

Are there any avenues we haven't explored here, hivemind?
posted by Kitty Stardust to Work & Money (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This is probably not that helpful but SECU, the North Carolina State Employees' Credit Union, just switched to real chip and pin debit cards. They are not the most progressive credit union out there so my guess is that some larger vendor is providing this service to credit unions. It might be worth checking with all your local credit unions to see if they offer them.
posted by ChrisHartley at 9:07 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have you tried TD Bank at all? They are Canadian but have American branches where Americans can open accounts. All of my cards through TD (albeit in Canada) are chip cards (debit and credit).

Another possibility, try to open an account in Canada? (I have no idea if this is easy or possible though sorry!)
posted by unlaced at 9:09 AM on December 2, 2011

Visa is really pushing chip and pin in the US, so it may only be a matter of time until banks switch over.

In the meantime, Travelex offers a reloadable chip-and-pin Cash Passport.
posted by zamboni at 9:48 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was coming here to say SECU as well, jinx ChrisHartley! They just switched to the chip card technology a few months ago. They also have a handy Switch Kit to get your bank account switched over, but I think you have to live/work in NC to get an account with them, or have a family member or spouse that does. But surely if a little bank like SECU has chip cards, your local credit union might too.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 10:04 AM on December 2, 2011

Depends on what you need it for but for occasional traveling the Travelex thing worked pretty well for me. You can just walk up to a booth in the airport and get one, it takes like 5 minutes.
posted by advil at 11:37 AM on December 2, 2011

If it's any consolation, the only time a chipless card is likely to be rejected is by a vending machine or for local transport, i.e. when the amounts involved are low and you probably have sufficient cash on you in any case. My experience as a resident of the UK and Germany is that restaurants, shops, cafes, bars, etc. are still all set up to accept signatures the old-fashioned way.
posted by caek at 12:15 PM on December 2, 2011

Travelex is the way to go. We recently went on a vacation to Paris and got two cards linked to the same preloaded account. Worked like a charm.
posted by plinth at 5:59 AM on December 5, 2011

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