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USA EMV cards: Availability, Q&A (Chip & PIN or Signature) [2017>]

Old Jan 16, 2017, 11:23 am
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What is EMV?
EMV is a standard for smart (or integrated-circuit, or chip) cards and the devices that can accept them. The standards are maintained by EMVCo and based on ISO 7816 (or ISO 14443 for contactless).

These cards come in two flavours: contact and contactless. Examples below:
----------------------------------------------------------

Notice the contactless indicator on the right-hand side (it looks like a sideways Wi-Fi symbol). It may also be found on the back of the card (for example, on the back of the new Costco credit card).


Where can I get a chip card?

Hawaiian717 operates a website with crowd-sourced information about various cards. You can adjust the search parameters to see cards with contactless, have PIN-primary authentication, etc.

Which businesses accept chip cards?

tmiw operates a website, also primarily crowd-sourced, that tracks chip-enabled merchants on a map. You can see if a merchant supports PIN, contactless, Quick Chip, et al.

Why doesn't my chip card ask for a PIN?

This is likely because you have a signature-preferring card. At this time, PIN-preferring cards issued in the US are rare. Not many financial institutions offer them; most of them instead provide Chip-and-Signature cards, which are programmed to prefer signature over PIN, if the card supports PIN at all.

What is the difference between Chip-and-Signature and Chip-and-PIN?

To the cardholder, the only major difference is how they authenticate themselves at the point of sale. The cardholder inserts their card as normal; instead of signing a screen or receipt, they will be asked to enter their PIN on the keypad.

[spoiler]

A few financial institutions issue some form of Chip-and-PIN credit cards or prepaid cards. Prepaid EMV cards however are not recommended due to junk fees.

Why no PIN? (cont.)
American debit cards are unique because they are psuedo-PIN-preferring cards. which may work at many automated kiosks. However, bear in mind the word may is used above is a context where there is no absolute certainty of success for certain environments such as automated kiosks due to different natures of offline and online transactions.

What is the difference between Chip-and-Signature and Chip-and-PIN? (cont.)

Most cards issued in the US are programmed to prefer signature, so save very few instances, they will prompt for a signature (unless the merchant sets a signature waiver). A PIN may be necessary in countries with mostly PIN-preferring cards when using unattended terminals (such as pay-at-the-pump or mass transit). If the card has a PIN for backup verification or ATMs, then that PIN should work. Otherwise, the card will be rejected. If the card is rejected, then either a.) the transaction must be performed by an attendant or b.) an alternative payment method will be required.

Some credit union issued credit cards will have this CVM (Cardholder Verification Method) as secondary if Chip-and-Signature cannot be done. Chip-and-PIN is the more prevalent method of authentication used outside the US, especially in transaction environments where no human interaction is needed (i.e. automated gas pumps, toll roads, train kiosks, etc.).

One chip can hold a lot more data, therefore it is capable of doing multiple verification methods. That's one of the great things about EMV over the mag-stripe which can hold very little data.

I want to know for sure what my EMV chip does. Is there anyway I can test out my own EMV card to see what the CVM list is?
alexmt has written up a nice step-by-step procedure on Post #3615.

If most of the EMV cards in the US is the Chip-and-Signature type, doesn't that mean it's still useless abroad?
Depends if you see it as glass half empty or glass half full. See Post #3 for further details on how Chip-and-Signature has worked both successfully and unsuccessfully depending on the merchant transaction environment and use your best judgment whether which one is right for you.


I don't want a chip in my card. I heard horror stories all over the media saying hackers can steal my credit card info from a mile away.


There are two types of chips. One is contactless and the other is contact. Cards can be either one or the other, or both.

In the Google Docs spreadsheet, the cards that are capable of contactless payments are listed seperately under the "RFID or NFC contactless chip" column. If it says yes, then that means it has the ability to do contactless payments. If it says no, it doesn't have that feature.

The one that the media has overhyped about hackers "stealing your information wirelessly" was the contactless type like this:

You are worried about this happening, right?

You don't have to worry. EMV is a chip standard that can have both contact and contactless interfaces. With the traditional contact interface, this means you actually have to physically insert the chip into a POS terminal for it to be authorized, like this:

With the contact interface, nothing is wireless. No data is sent out in a stand-alone contact type EMV chip. With the EMV contactless interface, data is sent wirelessly.

Furthermore, contactless chip cards are required to show a symbol (looks like Wi-Fi symbol) somewhere on the card that to denote its capability as a contactless card. For example, here's an example of a Discover Card with contactless capability (in which Discover calls "Discover ZIP") showing the contactless symbol on the back of the card:

Don't believe everything that the media says. Besides, millions of people all over the world from London to Singapore, uses contactless payments daily in extremely crowded subways and mass transit with nary any problems. There are multiple layers of encrypted securities and keys that are needed to break the code.

Frankly, giving your physical card to a waiter/waitress who takes the card out of your view is much more susceptible to fraud than contactless payments.

Why should I care?
If you are an international traveler, you will want this because majority of the world has or in the process of converting to this payment format.

In fact, in 2012, even North Korea moved to the EMV format, leaving the US as one of the countries in the world that hasn't done so.

In addition, VISA, MC, AMEX, and Discover have all agreed to incentivize the USA shifting to EMV payments by 2015 by shifting liability for fraudulent transactions to merchants if they do not have EMV equipment and the cardholder has an EMV card. So if you travel internationally or would like to get one before the others, you might be interested in getting one.


BS! I had no problems using my card in [insert whereever country], [insert whatever point in time]
If you stick to the tourist path where they have lots of visitors from the US, you should have no problems using your mag-stripe only card in hotels and restaurants, at least for now. But as things can change as things go forward.

However, consider that once you start taking the off-beaten path, go to non-touristy places where they are not familiar with mag-stripes, rent a car and use toll roads, fill up gas, or try to buy train tickets you might end up into a trouble of the machine not recognizing your card because it lacks the chip. Furthermore, a lot of toll roads, gas pumps, and automated ticket machines lack any human assistance to help you when you need it the most.

But [insert credit card company] told me all merchants that display their logo must accept them! All I have to do is report them for violating their agreements, right?
There are several factors against this.

1. You can only speak English. The merchant representative, most likely a part-time clerk earning minimum wage, speaks in a different language, let's say French. If you have no French language skills, how are you going to get your point across? Are you going to whip out your cell phone at exorbitant int'l roaming charges and hope the customer service is going to translate it for you on the spot? Or maybe you might actually know French. But how about Swahili, Farsi, Balinese, or the multiple languages in mainland China?

2. Just like US, the rest of the world's businesses uses part-time minimum wage workers as cashiers to cut down on labor costs. Most of their SOP training manuals are written by MBA types to not to do anything they are not familiar with. Do not expect them to understand the intricate details of credit card mumbo jumbo. You don't expect Taco Bell employees to understand the minute details of Discover-JCB-Union Pay agreements, right? Same thing the other way around: be respectful as a guest in their country, prepare in advance in their ways, avoid being an "ugly American" stereotype.

3. You are a guest in their country. You are a minority. If 99.9% of their country's people and other tourists from around the world uses EMV, do you really think they are going to accomodate the 0.1% of American tourists who only have mag-stripes credit cards?

4. Again, you are a guest in their country. How would you, as an American standing in line, react if a Chinese tourist was clogging up the lines at a local Taco Bell because the clerk doesn't understand the Discover-Union Pay agreement and has trouble communicating between Mandarin spoken by the tourist and English spoken by the Taco Bell clerk? Same way the other way around. You do not want to clog up the lines for everyone. The less hassle, the better.

5. VISA and MC make tons of money from merchants in that country. Say SNCF French Rail. It's a billion dollar company in France. Do you think VISA is going to pull the plug of their relationship with SNCF because SNCF refuses to do mag-stripe processing at their unmanned train station kiosk? Of course not. Be realistic.

6. And lastly, if you're up against an unstaffed toll kiosk, gas pump or train ticket machine, are you going to yell curses at the machine?

But I want my credit card to be able to be used in the US too!
No worries. They have not gotten rid of the mag-stripe on the back of the card for backward compatibility reasons, just like we still have embossed numbers on our cards for backwards compatibility to using those old carbon copy imprinters.

[insert own Hyatt card image front and back together with red arrows pointing to all the backward compatibility features]

You use the chip on the front of the card abroad (for now), and the mag-stripe just like any other card for the US. Basically, you're increasing your credit card's acceptance rate by getting a card that both via the chip and the mag-stripe. You're getting a better deal for free.

And when 2015 comes along and US switches to EMV, you'll be way ahead of everyone else too!


So why did the rest of the world and the US moved/moving toward EMV?
Primarily, due to fraud concerns. You see, the mag-stripe has been with us since the 1950s. It may have been the most high tech thing back in the day, but with the technology that is available today, any shmo can pick up a $100 USB magnetic card skimming device off of eBay and get your credit card info.

And unlike skimming off contactless cards which actually need the person to have l33t programming skills, skimming off a magnetic stripe has become so ubiquitous that nary a day goes about skimming fraud going on somewhere in America, from gas pumps, Michael's stores (2011), Target breaches (2013), restaurant waiters/waitresses, to even McDonald's drive thrus.

https://www.google.com/search?q=skimming+fraud

These type of fraud used to be prevalent in Europe. But once they started switching over to EMV starting over 2 decades ago, this type of fraud went elsewhere. It went over to Asia, Canada and Mexico, Latin America, etc. etc. until they too began implementing EMV to combat skimming fraud. The US is practically the only country left that hasn't done so, therefore all the fraud that used to take place elsewhere is now happening here.


But EMV is old and it's not fool proof. Shouldn't we just skip over it and do something new instead?
Yes, EMV is old. It was developed in the 1990s, and its smart card payment predecessor was first introduced in France. But as of today, it has become the de-facto global standard of payments.

But then, what else is there? There is no other de facto global standard of payments alternative. For example, if we decide to skip over it and do something new, hypothetically like DNA matching technology, it still means US int'l travelers will continue to have problems abroad with useless plastic acceptance because no other country is using this DNA matching technology except the US.

Besides, nothing is fool proof. You can say that the bank vault isn't fool proof because you can crack it open if enough C4 is used. But your average low-life scumbag isn't likely to get military grade C4 easily either. But the bank vault does make it harder to get the bank's money over say a petty cash box. That's the point here. EMV is akin to a security tight bank vault, the old mag-stripe is akin to a petty cash box lying around inside the drawer.


I'm a business owner and I don't think EMV is going to take off. I'm not going to spend extra hundreds of dollars to upgrade my credit card machine. Convince me other wise why I should.
I can understand the added extra cost to your business once this switchover takes place. But before even saying that, look at your existing POS terminal. Does it have a slot somewhere to insert a card?

Most likely, if you had replaced your POS terminal within the past five years, you already have an EMV capable terminal. EMV is basically just not turned on yet from the processor and acquirer side.

If you have an EMV capable terminal, then a best bet would be to contact your acquirer to have the EMV feature turned on. You did your end of the deal already by having an EMV capable terminal, it is now the acquirers' responsibility to turn it on in accordance to the EMV switchover mandate.

And if you don't, you are going to replace your POS terminal anyway from common wear and tear. It isn't a hard switch-over. You can continue to use your POS terminal until it dies out because EMV cardholders will still have the mag-stripe on the back. And by the time your non-EMV capable POS terminal is up for replacement the market will be full with these newer POS terminals that can accept the mag-stripe, EMV, as well as contactless payments.

In addition, you may also want to check with your acquirer or processor about EMV capable terminals. Some of them are willing to replace your terminal for free in preparation for the US EMV switchover. Call and ask for details.


But what's in it for me? I'm the one that has to pay for the upgrade.
All the major card networks have given incentives for merchants for the upcoming EMV switchover.

If 75% or more of your credit card transactions are done on an EMV contact and contactless terminal, they are going to waive your annual PCI-DSS fees, which usually costs you around $5.00-$19.95/month per terminal. The overall long term cost savings of those compliance fees will be larger than the cost of an one time upgrade for the terminal.

The downside is that once EMV switchover happens and if you do not have a POS terminal that is able to accept EMV, the fraud liability shifts over to the merchant.
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USA EMV cards: Availability, Q&A (Chip & PIN or Signature) [2017>]

Old May 22, 2017, 3:31 am
  #1591  
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Originally Posted by JEFFJAGUAR
They can do anything they want with debit cards. I never use them for purchases so if they route them via debit or credit makes no difference to me.
Sure, but a lot of people do use them fairly often. Right now debit has fairly "consistent" behavior in that PIN is optional and not even asked for most of the time. Even a lot of merchants that haven't had customer-facing equipment before EMV (but now do) run all debit cards over Visa/MC.

However, imagine PIN being no longer optional, but only at some stores--and no way of knowing in advance if a certain store is going to let you skip entering it. That would become a mess extremely quickly, especially since some smaller banks have a habit of charging extra for debit transactions. The only way to salvage that situation would be to just pull the trigger and mandate PIN for all debit card transactions regardless of merchant.
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Old May 22, 2017, 3:38 am
  #1592  
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Speaking of PIN, I went to another business that uses EMV contactless but required signature with Apple Pay. This was probably due to a tip line being on the receipt but still.

Setup was an Elo POS with a VX805 attached as shown below:



Also, bonus pic with ID requirements for alcohol since that was talked about earlier. This may be overly strict due to its proximity to a university, however:



(Valid forms of ID since that may be difficult to read: unexpired CA Driver's License/ID card or passport as sole ID, or military/out of state ID with second form of ID.)
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Old May 22, 2017, 4:49 am
  #1593  
 
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Originally Posted by tmiw
The true risk is going to be dependent on a lot of factors, not simply the fact that fallback was used. There's a reason why the US didn't bother with EMV for quite a long time.



I suspect Walmart et al are going to eventually be allowed to force debit routing, thus creating a ton of confusion and inconsistency. PIN preference for debit cards may become unavoidable at that point.

Also, PIN is still going to be a topic occasionally brought up here as long as unattended terminals occasionally reject signature-only cards.
I think I would be happier if the United States would force PIN usage for debit cards. I really never understood the reasoning for allowing "credit" purchases with a debit card... It's not really credit; you aren't borrowing money to pay for the item(s). Debit cards are more vulnerable to affecting someone's financial portfolio, especially if they live paycheck to paycheck and won't receive a temporary credit for a a few days (and up to 5 business days). Credit is essentially virtual money while debit has "real" money. A big bank has a bottomless pit of cash while your back pocket doesn't.

I also noticed some banks' "debit" transactions are instantly pulled from your account and cleared and not "pending" for 1-3 business days... Not that it really matters if the card works and the item is paid for anyway, but it's just an observance.
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Old May 22, 2017, 5:17 am
  #1594  
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Originally Posted by mikesyr18
...I really never understood the reasoning for allowing "credit" purchases with a debit card...
The reasoning is that it benefits the card issuer and the network (MasterCard or VISA) because they collect a higher transaction fee on credit transactions. MasterCard and VISA increased their share of the debit transaction market by raising prices, and that's a topic for another thread.
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Old May 22, 2017, 5:21 am
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Originally Posted by mia
The reasoning is that it benefits the card issuer and the network (MasterCard or VISA) because they collect a higher transaction fee on credit transactions. MasterCard and VISA increased their share of the debit transaction market by raising prices, and that's a topic for another thread.
What about for smaller purchases like gum though? Wouldn't debit cards cost more than say a 3% fee transaction?
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Old May 22, 2017, 9:21 am
  #1596  
 
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Originally Posted by mikesyr18
What about for smaller purchases like gum though? Wouldn't debit cards cost more than say a 3% fee transaction?
It depends on the network and the larger shops negotiate their own rates. That's the whole theory of merchant choice.

As for why allow it? Well it isn't "credit" at all. That's stupid terminology. It just refers to the major international payment networks like Visa and MasterCard. Why would you NOT allow them to play in this space? If they couldn't, far fewer shops would accept debit cards.
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Old May 22, 2017, 9:31 am
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Originally Posted by mlin32
My local Harris Teeter just went to EMV transactions. Guess it is a region by region implementation; first experience was in CLT (pages back) and it has now migrated over to western NC. ^
Interesting. No EMV at Harris Teeter stores in the Raleigh area, yet. Though at least one store has contactless (NC55 and NC540 in Cary)
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Old May 22, 2017, 9:55 am
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Originally Posted by fliesdelta
Interesting. No EMV at Harris Teeter stores in the Raleigh area, yet. Though at least one store has contactless (NC55 and NC540 in Cary)
Still waiting in NoVA for them to get rid of the old swipe-only terminals. A few stores take contactless, even with the new terminals, but Kroger broke it a few months ago and only Amex will work now. I think it will be off fully come EMV.
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Old May 22, 2017, 10:02 am
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Originally Posted by tmiw
Speaking of PIN, I went to another business that uses EMV contactless but required signature with Apple Pay. This was probably due to a tip line being on the receipt but still.

Setup was an Elo POS with a VX805 attached as shown below:




Also, bonus pic with ID requirements for alcohol since that was talked about earlier. This may be overly strict due to its proximity to a university, however:



(Valid forms of ID since that may be difficult to read: unexpired CA Driver's License/ID card or passport as sole ID, or military/out of state ID with second form of ID.)
A coffee shop here uses an Elo touchscreen with a PC, but I don't know if it says anything about their POS. Contactless with their Vx 805 is MSD, and Online PIN is verified for Debit Mastercard. A tip line prints for contactless but not my chip card. They never check either tip or signature.
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Old May 22, 2017, 10:12 am
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Originally Posted by tmiw
Speaking of PIN, I went to another business that uses EMV contactless but required signature with Apple Pay. This was probably due to a tip line being on the receipt but still.

Setup was an Elo POS with a VX805 attached as shown below:



Also, bonus pic with ID requirements for alcohol since that was talked about earlier. This may be overly strict due to its proximity to a university, however:



(Valid forms of ID since that may be difficult to read: unexpired CA Driver's License/ID card or passport as sole ID, or military/out of state ID with second form of ID.)
At least it's for alcohol and not for using a credit card! And props to them for those Apple Pay stickers.
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Old May 22, 2017, 11:42 am
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A few thoughts on various topics:

Was at Boston Market a few days ago. They had cashier-facing VX805 (I think) connected to the POS and they ran cards on that, rather than using the magnetic stripe reader attached to the terminal. Still swiping though, no EMV.

There was some discussion somewhere about Disney theme parks. Disneyland Resort (California) is still using the magnetic stripe reader attached to the monitor, no EMV or contactless.

Regarding UnionPay and seeing stickers on US stores, I think they're making a global push for more brand awareness as more Chinese travel overseas, and possibly targeting overseas Chinese ethnic markets. Last year when I was in Spain there was a big banner ad on the front of one of the buildings near Puerta del Sol for UnionPay. But also I think we're seeing more branding in areas that are seeing increased Chinese tourism, so that Chinese tourists know that they can use their UnionPay cards at merchants without having to know that the Discover logo means their UnionPay card will work. I've also seen outlet malls in with various promotions for Chinese credit cards (like this one).

I think what we're seeing with UnionPay is similar to what's happened with JCB for a while, where a lot of business in places like Hawaii advertise JCB acceptance. I don't think we'll see big US banks issuing UnionPay cards, just like they don't issue JCB cards, but a handful of cards, like the ICBC US UnionPay and the Marukai JCB card, will be offered in the US primarily for the local ethnic communities.
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Old May 22, 2017, 11:51 am
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Originally Posted by Hawaiian717
A few thoughts on various topics:

Was at Boston Market a few days ago. They had cashier-facing VX805 (I think) connected to the POS and they ran cards on that, rather than using the magnetic stripe reader attached to the terminal. Still swiping though, no EMV.

There was some discussion somewhere about Disney theme parks. Disneyland Resort (California) is still using the magnetic stripe reader attached to the monitor, no EMV or contactless.

Regarding UnionPay and seeing stickers on US stores, I think they're making a global push for more brand awareness as more Chinese travel overseas, and possibly targeting overseas Chinese ethnic markets. Last year when I was in Spain there was a big banner ad on the front of one of the buildings near Puerta del Sol for UnionPay. But also I think we're seeing more branding in areas that are seeing increased Chinese tourism, so that Chinese tourists know that they can use their UnionPay cards at merchants without having to know that the Discover logo means their UnionPay card will work. I've also seen outlet malls in with various promotions for Chinese credit cards (like this one).

I think what we're seeing with UnionPay is similar to what's happened with JCB for a while, where a lot of business in places like Hawaii advertise JCB acceptance. I don't think we'll see big US banks issuing UnionPay cards, just like they don't issue JCB cards, but a handful of cards, like the ICBC US UnionPay and the Marukai JCB card, will be offered in the US primarily for the local ethnic communities.
I'll say this much, every time I get a set of those stickers to put up when we install terminals at a business, it says UnionPay on them. Our new ones even say "Contactless" and "Apple Pay" on them too! ^

As for Disney World, ones now have PAX PX7 (Same as El Pollo Loco) terminals with EMV, and NFC enabled (NFC mostly for the Magic bands, that you tap to the terminals now, rather than to a proprietary reader....apparently the proprietary terminal manufacturer went out of business)....You can still use a contactless card or Apple Pay on them too! ^

Still waiting on Disneyland to get any sign of customer facing equipment...coming soon I hope, judging by the PAX terminals in Florida.

It also seems that Boston Market has the OLD In and Out Setup. the new IN and out setup uses Ingenico readers that face the customer, with EMV enabled, but no NFC at all...at least hopefully just for now.
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Old May 22, 2017, 1:03 pm
  #1603  
 
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Quick FYI, Jos A Bank seems to have turned on EMV. Have not tried NFC yet. They are using the wide Ingenico terminals.
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Old May 22, 2017, 1:08 pm
  #1604  
 
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Originally Posted by MASTERNC
Quick FYI, Jos A Bank seems to have turned on EMV. Have not tried NFC yet. They are using the wide Ingenico terminals.
Last time bought something there was ages ago, but I remember hearing that they have contactless. They use iSC 480, right?
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Old May 22, 2017, 1:14 pm
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Originally Posted by AllieKat
It depends on the network and the larger shops negotiate their own rates. That's the whole theory of merchant choice.

As for why allow it? Well it isn't "credit" at all. That's stupid terminology. It just refers to the major international payment networks like Visa and MasterCard. Why would you NOT allow them to play in this space? If they couldn't, far fewer shops would accept debit cards.
I don't see any room for negotiating debit interchange rates from even the largest retailers after the Durbin Amendment passed as part of the Dodd-Frank Act.

It's obvious banks feel like $0.24 + 0.05% is too low with them taking away debit card rewards, raising fees, proposing $5/month debit card fees, and adding checking account maintenance costs on all accounts. I'm sure banks told retailers like Walmart to pound sand if they tried negotiating an even lower rate, so I disagree with you. I believe every merchant behind the scenes is paying the same debit interchange rate because the fee is capped at the above and banks don't want to lose even more profit.

I've noticed places like my local barber shop (no EMV, swipe only) don't even give you a choice to run your card as debit, because debit costs too much for transactions below $10.
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