August 7, 2022

Bucks: U.S. Bank and Chase Add to E.M.V. Chip Cards for Travelers

U.S. Bank is joining the small-but-growing ranks of American financial institutions offering credit cards with tiny, secure microprocessing chips that are widely used overseas. But U.S. Bank’s card, aiming for maximum flexibility, uses technology that lets the card work with three different payment systems.

The bank, the main banking unit of Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, says its FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa card offers the embedded E.M.V. (for Europay, Mastercard and Visa) chips, which are becoming prevalent in Europe, as well as the older magnetic stripe technology, which is still dominant in the United States.

The U.S. Bank card also can be used in “contactless” payment systems available at some locations in the United States. These systems let the customer wave the card at a payment terminal to make a purchase, rather than sliding it through a reader at checkout.

That’s a lot of technology sitting in a little plastic rectangle. The bank says that will allow its customers to have the “best experience possible wherever they go.”

“While we believe E.M.V. is important for our international travel cardholders, we are committed to driving contactless mobile payments in the United States,” said Cliff Cook, chief marketing officer for the bank’s retail payments unit, in a press release.

Roughly 20,000 FlexPerks Visa cardholders will get the new cards this month. The bank plans to expand the card to other travel reward cardholders in the coming year.

E.M.V. technology is considered more secure than magnetic stripes and is widely used in Europe. Some American cardholders have had trouble using their magnetic stripe cards abroad, particularly at unattended kiosks used to sell train tickets and the like, as this Practical Traveler column discussed. The cards have been slow to catch on in the United States, in part because of the expense merchants will incur to install new, compatible card readers at their registers.

Recently, some big banks—Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase—as well as some smaller credit unions have introduced cards with E.M.V chips for customers who travel internationally. Chase has said it will expand its E.M.V. offerings in the coming months, and on Monday it introduced a second E.M.V. card, JPMorgan Select Visa Signature® card. Unlike some versions of E.M.V. cards, which require a PIN, Chase’s smart-chip cards use a signature, but you don’t have to sign at unmanned kiosks, according to the bank.

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