What is an EMV Card?

June 2, 2016
Adrienne H., Financial Expert

You may have received a new debit or credit card recently and noticed something different. Now debit and credit cards are becoming equipped with the latest fraud-preventing technology—an EMV chip. With large amounts of fraud occurring around the world, Europay, MasterCard, and Visa created EMV to better protect consumers and retailers.

What is EMV technology?
It is enhanced security for you, making it difficult for someone to gain access to your information. Unlike traditional cards with only a magnetic strip that can copy and store sensitive information, when you use your card at a chip-enabled terminal, the chip generates a single-use code that cannot be duplicated. 

Unique codes make it nearly impossible for your card information to be copied during in-store purchases, providing you with greater security. For instance, if someone stole your chip information from one purchase, they would be denied if they tried to use that same chip data for another purchase. 

How do I use an EMV chip card?
From now on, when you use your EMV card for in-store purchases where chip cards are accepted, you will be prompted to insert or “dip” your card as opposed to swiping your card. However, “dipping” is not the only option to using your EMV technology. Contactless card readers such as digital wallets on your mobile device also allow to you to make a secure payment from the embedded computer chip. While processing your transaction, you may still be asked to sign for your purchases or enter your PIN.

Chip technology is common in other areas of the world, especially European countries, making your card easier and safer to use worldwide. As chip technology becomes standard in the United States, you’ll see many merchants accepting chip cards. If a retailer does not accept EMV, you may still make purchases using the magnetic strip on the back of your card.

Will EMV cards protect me from all fraud and breaching?
While EMV is a step forward in improving financial security, there are still ways for fraudsters to access your payment information. Right now, EMV technology only protects your physical card from in-store purchases. If you make online purchases, your credit or debit card numbers and personal information can still be at risk for being stolen, as they are no longer protected by the single-use chip code. As always, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to your transactions and bills in case of any suspicious activity.

Tags: Credit Cards, Tips and Tricks, Security