If you live in the USA and travel around the world, you may be notice an increasing problem with using your US-based credit card to pay for things internationally, especially in automated situations like train ticket machines and at gas stations.
This is because the US still mostly uses “swipe” credit card technology – that magnetic stripe – while most of the world has gone to the “Chip and PIN” style, where a small chip on the side of the card is inserted into a reader and you enter a PIN to confirm purchase.
In a majority of situations, a human with a swipe reader can process the transaction for you “old school” with a swipe reader, but increasingly I’m noticing situations where a chip is required. Bike shares in Europe are one instance.
In the US now, we are seeing the introduction of what is called “Chip and Signature” credit cards. They have no PIN, but will work in almost all Chip-card required situations as long as the amount is under $50. Or with a human taking your card with no limit (you just sign).
When I was in Amsterdam recently, I wanted to buy a train ticket from the airport into town but the machine would not take a card without a PIN. I was able to use my card at a ticket window, but if it had been a bit later and that window was closed, I’d have been out of luck.
Here are two credit cards that offer a “Chip and Signature” version. Just apply for either card and then call up to request a “Chip and Signature” version.
The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card
(Two free weekend nights and HHonors Gold Status!)