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Old Jan 8, 08, 2:14 pm   #1
 
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Credit Card chip vs. magstripe?

Do any of the US banks who issue credit cards also issue cards (upon request) with the smart chip on the front of the card? I understand that the rest of the world uses this now and the only US card issuer that issues this kind of card are the AMEX Blue cards...

I was in a Tokyo cab recently where the card reader took 5 minutes of swipes to get the magstripe to read but instantly read my fren's smart chip card. Thankfully the driver was patient (and also was getting paid for a Y7700 journey!) but there's no guarantee that the next one will be as patient!
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Old Jan 8, 08, 2:28 pm   #2
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My understanding is that there are not currently any US issuers of Chip/PIN Visa cards (I think the same is true for Mastercard, but I don't know for certain).

Visa has a page on their website with limited info:
http://www.usa.visa.com/personal/using_visa/european_travel_tips.html?it=c|/personal/using_visa/travel_with_visa.html|European%20Travel%20Tips%20
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Old Jan 8, 08, 2:29 pm   #3
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Since 2005 American Express Blue has used RFID chips, and these are available on other types of American Express cards, as well as various Mastercard and VISA products. I suspect that is not they type of chip you need.
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Old Jan 8, 08, 2:30 pm   #4
 
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See Chase Blink. I think most of their cards are "blinkable". A lot of fast food restaurants have the RF readers, I would assume more and more companies issue them now.
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Old Jan 8, 08, 2:54 pm   #5
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RF chips are embedded into the card and aren't visible from the outside of the card. They work on a contact-less basis.

What the OP is referring to are contact-required chips--unrelated to the RF payment systems.
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Old Jan 8, 08, 7:22 pm   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soitgoes View Post
RF chips are embedded into the card and aren't visible from the outside of the card. They work on a contact-less basis.

What the OP is referring to are contact-required chips--unrelated to the RF payment systems.
Correct... I believe there are plenty of cards with RF systems, like amex express pay, which is in the starwood card...
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Old Jan 9, 08, 11:54 am   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soitgoes View Post
RF chips are embedded into the card and aren't visible from the outside of the card. They work on a contact-less basis.

What the OP is referring to are contact-required chips--unrelated to the RF payment systems.
They are related. They are both "smart cards" systems. Some systems still use the original contact based spec (ISO/IEC 7816) However, most systems have converted or are converting to ISO/IEC 14443 contactless spec.

What isn't related is the RFID system, which are unsecure and can be read from up to 25 feet away (compared with the typical 4 inches of contactless smart cards).

From the standpoint of traveling in Japan there are both contact and contracless based systems in use there. Heck, for some things you can just wave your at the machine to buy something.
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Old Jan 9, 08, 12:06 pm   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motytrah View Post
They are related. They are both "smart cards" systems. Some systems still use the original contact based spec (ISO/IEC 7816) However, most systems have converted or are converting to ISO/IEC 14443 contactless spec.
Sure, the technology is related.
Their use is not related. The chip cards becoming widespread in Europe have to do with Chip/PIN systems that require the entry of a PIN to authorize the transaction. That is completely unrelated (in some ways the opposite of) the chips that are being embedded in some US cards that enable the use of contactless readers for payment.
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Old Jan 10, 08, 3:44 am   #9
 
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Smart cards, the ones with a true computer chip on them, never really took off in the US, at least not for credit cards. They are very popular in Europe. The primary reason is that way back when, the US telecom landline system was much more advanced than Europe's when credit cards were becoming widely used. So it was easier for a US merchant to verify the authenticity of the card via phone than for a European merchant.

Instead, European companies like Gemplus created smart cards with a tiny computer chip on it that could be used to verify the validity of the card (via PIN). So for transactions up to a certain amount (set by the card issuer and merchants), this PIN validation would be satisfactory and not require a phone call. Anything above that amount would require a call, thus drastically reducing the number of calls.

The primary US companies to try smart credit cards were the Amex Blue and the Target Visa. The Amex Blue was popular only because of its unique look, not really the smart chip on it. I don't think Target Visas have the chip on them any more.

As you can imagine, a smart card is many times more expensive than a traditional magstripe card. They have not taken off in the US as credit cards b/c of the massive cost in infrastructure that would have to occur (new readers to all merchants, etc.) Rather than pay this cost, the issuing banks would rather deal with the higher amount of fraud that occurs with magstripe cards. They lose billions of $ a year to fraud, but feel that is less expensive than paying for the infrastructure. And this doesn't even factor the demand, or lack thereof, for smart card readers on home PCs. In fact, I have a reader in my laptop, though I have no idea what I'd ever use it for.

The one place where smart cards have been successful in the US is for SIM cards for cellphones. If you have a GSM phone, you have a SIM card. Changing the SIM card completely changes the user and phone number of the phone.

Smart credit cards, b/c of the sophistication of the chip, are many times more expensive than SIM cards too.
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