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What’s the deal with all the replacement credit cards?

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Many credit card companies have been sending cardholders replacement cards. Here’s what you need to know about these new Chip-and-PIN cards.

If you have credit cards, you may have noticed replacement versions recently sent in the mail. They have the same account numbers, same expiration dates and probably the same designs. But it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and increasingly, that’s become EMV or Chip-and-PIN technology.

What’s EMV (Chip-and-PIN) technology?


After you tear open the non-descript envelope with your replacement card(s), you’ll notice a new, small, metallic square shape on the front of your card. That’s the chip.

When you shop, you may start noticing that merchants are using new payment terminals. They insert these new Chip-and-PIN-enabled cards into a reader and ask you to enter your PIN.

The PIN is yours to create and is similar to PINs for ATM security, customer service account access and the like. Just like other passwords and PINs, you’ll want to create one you’ll remember, but it should also be unique enough to keep thieves guessing.

Though that chip-and-PIN process is supposed to replace the magnetic strip you’ve used to swipe and pay for ages, your cards will still have the magnetic strip as payment processors switch to the new, EMV-enabled terminals.

Chip-and-PIN is more secure, right?

It may be for specific, in-person transactions. The new cards are primarily designed to help fight credit card counterfeiters. The chip generates a unique code for every transaction you make with the chip. That, in turn, makes it much harder for criminals to create fakes based on your card. It also means if you lose your card or if it’s stolen, the thief would have to know your PIN to complete a transaction with it (where the only payment processing option is Chip-and-PIN).

Since the chip technology can’t be used for online purchases, it does nothing to make those transactions safer or less safe. Another thing to remember is you’re still not liable for transactions you didn’t authorize on your cards. So nothing changes for you there.

Why you shouldn’t let your guard down


Chip-and-PIN technology will be a welcome security step for everyone except the criminals. But it doesn’t mean you can let your guard down: Chip-and-PIN can create a false sense of security where pickpocketing, ID theft and skimming are still widely successful crimes.

That’s why something like credit monitoring is still vital in the Chip-and-PIN era. For example, with TransUnion Credit Monitoring you can still help fight fraud faster with:

  • TU Credit Lock, an exclusive feature letting you block all access to your TransUnion credit report with just a click or smartphone swipe.
  • TU Instant Alerts, sent the moment we find out someone’s applying for credit in your name
  • 24/7 access and UNLIMITED refreshes—at home or on the go—with our app.

The introduction of Chip-and-PIN is a good thing. At least in the short term, it’ll probably help reduce the number of costly fraudulent incidents. But that doesn’t mean it’ll help you save—that’s because someone else will still be picking up the tab.

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