Traveling outside the U.S.? Take along an EMV chip credit card

August 01, 2014

By Paul Brucker

Traveling outside the U.S.? Take along an EMV chip credit card

If you are an American traveling outside the country with a standard magnetic stripe credit card, beware! You may encounter inconvenience and headaches when you want to pay for things. EMV smart chip-enabled credit cards (EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa) are designed to reduce fraud caused by skimmed or counterfeit cards. They have integrated circuits that perform enhanced cryptographic security functions and are becoming the norm worldwide. More than 2.36 billion people around the globe use them.

In Europe, as of December 2013, 99.9% of point-of-sale credit card payment terminals were chip-enabled, according to Smartcard Alliance. So were 84.7% of terminals in Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America; 86.3% of terminals in Africa and the Middle East; and 71.7% of terminals in the Asia Pacific region.

In many places outside the United States, you’ll be out of luck trying to use a credit card without an EMV chip, especially at gas pumps, parking lots and ATMs. Plus, many merchants at point-of-sale locations might deny a sale without the chip. This is particularly true in rural areas where many cashiers don’t know how to process magnetic stripe credit cards.

Fortunately, if you’re an Alliant Visa credit cardholder who travels outside the United States, you can simply request to be issued a new credit card enhanced with the EMV chip. Our EMV Visa cards still have a magnetic stripe, so you can continue to use them throughout the United States at non-EMV terminals.

American financial institutions and merchants have been slow to embrace EMV, but those days are numbered. U.S. banks have started issuing cards with EMV chips. An estimated 17 million to 20 million EMV cards have already been issued to U.S. consumers, according to the EMV Migration Forum, and that number is expected to jump by 100 million by the end of 2014.

The major credit card companies, Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, have given U.S. merchants a financial incentive to upgrade to chip-enabled terminals. If a merchant hasn’t shifted to EMV-compliant terminals by October 2015, the merchant – not the credit card issuer – will be liable for any fraud that occurs. Gas stations have until October 2017 to comply with this mandate at their “pay at the pump” fuel dispensers.

If you already have an Alliant Visa® Platinum or Platinum Rewards credit card, you will be issued a new EMV smart chip credit card automatically when your current card expires. But there’s no need for you to wait to get your EMV-enhanced credit card from Alliant. If you want an EMV card right away, request one today.


Don’t have an Alliant credit card and have been using our debit card during your international travels? Alliant plans to enhance its debit cards with the EMV chip in 2015. Meanwhile, consider applying for our EMV-enhanced Alliant Visa® Platinum or Platinum Rewards credit card today.

Traveling? If you plan to travel outside the United States, please call us at 800-328-1935 (24/7) and select Option 3 to speak to a Member Service Representative to let us know your travel plans so you’ll have uninterrupted service during your trip.

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