For decades, credit cards carried their data on a magnetic strip on the card’s back. Unfortunately, counterfeiting was fairly easy with magnetic stripe cards, so credit cards weren’t very secure.
Today, most credit cards come embedded with Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) microchips, which contain encrypted data that makes chip cards much more secure.
Though cards typically have EMV chip technology, there's a key difference between how most U.S. credit cards work vs. how credit cards work abroad. In the U.S., retailers generally verify the cardholder’s identity by matching up the signature on the back of the credit card with a receipt at checkout.
However, most cards issued abroad don’t rely on signatures — instead, cardholders have to enter a PIN, or personal identification number, when they pay — similar to what you'd experience with a debit card. These are known as chip-and-PIN credit cards.
Why chip-and-PIN cards aren't common in the U.S.
EMV chip-and-PIN cards aren’t common in the U.S. for a few reasons:
- Consumers are used to signing a sales slip when using a credit card, and entering a PIN could be a hassle.
- Credit card issuers don’t want to deter customers from paying with their cards by forcing them to enter a PIN.
- It’s not cost-effective for card issuers to issue cards with PINs to millions of customers.
Though these EMV cards aren’t that common, certain card issuers do offer them. Some offer PIN-priority cards, which means the default when you make a transaction with the card is to enter a PIN. Others offer PIN-capable cards, which means you can request a PIN and complete credit card transactions with a PIN, but the default when you put your card into a chip reader is to require a signature.
Suppose you’ll be traveling abroad, especially to Europe. In that case, you’ll likely want a card with PIN capability because self-payment terminals and credit card processing kiosks in foreign countries might not work otherwise.
4 chip-and-PIN cards you can get in the U.S.
If you want to make sure you’re able to use your card in countries where chip-and-PIN technology is the norm, here are five cards you can get in the U.S. with chip-and-PIN functionality.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®
- Navy Federal Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Card
- PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card
|Card||Do you have to request a PIN?||Annual fee||Best for...|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Yes||$695
|Travelers who enjoy luxury travel perks like complimentary airport lounge access (select benefits require enrollment)|
|Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard||No||$99||Frequent American Airlines travelers who can use free checked bags and discounted inflight purchases|
|Navy Federal Credit Union Visa Signature Flagship||Yes||$49||Navy Federal Credit Union members seeking an affordable travel rewards card with a low annual fee|
|PenFed Power Cash Rewards Card||No||$0||PenFed members interested in earning generous rewards with a no-annual-fee card|
The Platinum Card by American Express
- Annual fee: $695
- Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $8,000 on purchases on your new card in the first 6 months
- Rewards rate: 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
If you're a frequent traveler who enjoys top-notch travel perks, the Platinum Card by American Express may be a good option for you. While this card does come with a hefty $695 annual fee, the perks outweigh the cost in many cases.
Each year, cardholders receive up to $200 in Uber Cash for U.S. rides, up to $100 statement credit for Saks Fifth Avenue purchases, and up to $100 in hotel credits on qualifying charges at select hotels. The credits alone can help offset the annual fee, but frequent travelers can also benefit from earning up to 5X points per dollar spent on eligible purchases. Select benefits require enrollment.
Other perks and benefits of the Amex Platinum Card include:
- Complimentary access to airport lounges
- Statement credit for either a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
- Uber VIP status
- Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors
- Select benefits require enrollment
Read more about this card's benefits in our Amex Platinum review.
Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard
- Annual fee: $99
- Welcome offer: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you make your first purchase and pay the annual fee in the first 90 days
- Rewards rate: 2X miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, and 1X mile per dollar spent on all other purchases
If you’re a frequent traveler on American Airlines, the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard may be a great choice for you. Not only will you earn extra bonus miles when you shop with American Airlines, but you’ll also get a 25% savings in the form of a statement credit on all inflight purchases of food and beverages on American Airlines-operated flights.
While the card has a $99 annual fee, it also comes with some generous features that make it worth your while if you travel often. Other perks and benefits of the card include:
- Free checked bag on American Airlines flights
- Up to $25 in statement credits per year for spending on WiFi on American Airlines flights
- 25% inflight savings in the form of a statement credit when you buy food or beverages on American flights
- Companion certificate good for $99 worth of travel for a guest after you make your first purchase on the card within 90 days and pay the annual fee.
- Companion certificate good for $99 worth of travel for a guest provided each year if your account is still open 45 days after your anniversary date and you’ve spent at least $20,000 on purchases
- Travel accident insurance, baggage delay insurance, car rental insurance (secondary coverage), trip cancellation and interruption insurance; and 24/7 travel assistance services
- 0% on balance transfers for 15 billing cycles (on balance transfers that post within 45 days of account opening), then 21.24%, 25.24% or 30.24% (variable).
Navy Federal Credit Union Visa Signature Flagship
- Annual fee: $49
- Welcome offer: Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 90 days
- Rewards rate: 3X points on travel and 2X points on all other purchases
If you’re eligible to be a Navy Federal Credit Union member, the Visa Signature Flagship Card is a great travel rewards credit card. It has a $49, which is less than the annual fees charged on many other travel cards. The fee can be worth paying because of the advantages the card provides.
Some of the perks and benefits of the Navy Federal Credit Union Visa Signature Flagship include:
- Up to a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years
- No balance transfer fee, foreign transaction fee, or cash advance fee
- Worldwide Automatic Travel Accident Insurance
- Cell phone protection
- Extended warranty service
- Travel and emergency assistance
PenFed Power Cash Rewards Card
- Annual fee: $0
- Welcome offer: $100 bonus after spending $1,500 in the first 90 days
- Rewards rate: 2% cash back on all purchases for PenFed Honors Advantage Members; 1.5% cash back on all purchases for other cardmembers
The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Card offers a reasonable annual bonus and a generous rewards rate for a card with no annual fee. Cash back gives you the chance to use your rewards to save on everyday purchases, and if you use your card abroad, there’s no foreign transaction fee to worry about.
You may also qualify for PenFed Honors Advantage to earn bonus rewards if you have an Access American Checking Account or prior military service.
What are chip-and-signature cards?
Chip-and-signature cards are more common in the U.S. These credit cards have EMV microchips and require your signature instead of a PIN to verify purchases. The verification is done by matching the signature on the back of your card with your signature on a credit card receipt.
Apart from the difference in the verification process, both chip-and-PIN and chip-and-signature cards provide a similar level of security with EMV chips and are typically accepted widely. However, some might argue that chip-and-PIN cards are more secure because you need to enter a PIN to make a purchase.
Here are a few popular chip-and-signature travel cards:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- World of Hyatt Credit Card
- Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
Can I get a chip-and-pin card in the U.S.?
Yes, you can get a chip-and-pin card in the U.S. While chip-and-signature cards are more common, some credit card companies do offer chip-and-pin cards.
Which U.S. credit cards are chip-and-PIN?
The following U.S. cards are chip-and-PIN:
- Bank of America Travel Rewards card
- Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard
- JetBlue Plus Card
- Dining Club Premier Card
- Navy Federal Credit Union Visa Signature Flagship
- Penfed Power Cash Rewards Card
- Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card
- The Platinum Card from American Express
Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve a chip-and-PIN card?
No, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a chip-and-signature card, not a chip-and-PIN card. When you use your Chase Sapphire Reserve, you'll need to either swipe your card or insert the chip into the card reader to pay. This card also offers contactless payment. Then, depending on the vendor, you may need to sign a signature pad or receipt to complete your transaction.
Why doesn't the U.S. use chip-and-PIN cards?
Chip-and-PIN cards aren't common in the U.S. due to concerns around adding friction at the point of sale. Issuing a PIN to every credit card customer is also a costly endeavor for card issuers.
Does Capital One have a chip-and-PIN card?
Capital One does not offer chip-and-PIN cards. Instead, they offer chip and signature cards.
Each of these chip-and-PIN cards has its own unique perks and benefits, so just about anyone who travels abroad regularly can compare credit cards and find one that works for them. Just remember to confirm you know your PIN before departing so you can complete transactions with merchants that require you to enter this number for added security.
Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards
- Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
- Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
- Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
- No foreign transaction fees
- Apply Now
- Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
- 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
- Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
- Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
- 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee applies to all balance transfers.
- If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
- Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
- This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
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