10 States Where You Can Definitely Put Your Chip Card to Use

chip-card-to-use

You’re probably familiar with this situation: You’re at the register, get your plastic out to pay, and then wait for the store clerk to tell you whether you’re supposed to insert your chip-enabled credit card in the terminal or swipe the card.

Given new network fraud liability rules went into effect in October 2015, magnetic strip credit cards have been steadily replaced with EMV-enabled chip cards, so many Americans carry them now. However, that doesn’t mean we are using them every time we make a purchase, as not every retailer has flipped the switch on the updated technology yet.

But, according to the Visa U.S. Chip Update report for June 2016, the U.S. added more than 100,000 chip-enabled merchant locations in June of this year. With this increase, an estimated 28% of merchants now use this technology, making the U.S. the largest chip market in the world, the report notes.

And, even though Visa reports that our country is now chip-laden, all states are not equal when it comes to adapting to this technology. It is slowly rolling out nationwide, and cards can still be used in all states, but New Jersey is noted as having the largest percentage of chip-ready merchants followed by Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut and Florida, where one in three merchants are chip-enabled.

These are the 10 states with the most merchants who are chip-ready.

  1. New Jersey
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. California
  4. Connecticut
  5. Florida
  6. Michigan
  7. New York
  8. Delaware
  9. Ohio
  10. West Virginia

Methodology

Information about U.S. merchant locations is based on VisaNet data as of the end of June 2016. Visa reviewed operating certificate data from client financial institutions at the end of March 2016 to evaluate global card usage. Visa also compared chip-enabled merchants’ data from March 2016 to March 2015, using both U.S.-issued credit and debit cards, to review counterfeit fraud data.

The Visa report noted that chip technology may have played a role in decreasing credit card fraud, with chip-enabled merchants seeing a 35% drop in counterfeit fraud in March 2016 compared to the same month previous year.

Protecting Your Credit Card Information

Still, no matter whether your local merchants have upgraded to chip technology or not, nothing is fool-proof. EMV chips may provide extra security in-store, for instance, but they don’t guard against theft online. This is why it’s a good idea to check your credit card statements every month for fraudulent charges.

And, if you have reason to believe your personal data has been compromised, you can review your credit reports as well. When reviewing your reports you want to look for signs your identity has been stolen, like a sudden drop in your credit scores or new accounts showing up that you don’t recognize. You can get a copy of your annual credit reports for free at Annual CreditReport.com and you can see your free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.

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Image: Petar Chernaev

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What Do I Do If My Chip Card Breaks?

broken chip card

EMV chip-enabled credit cards and debit cards may be harder to counterfeit than the good, old magnetic stripe versions, but there is one thing the two payment methods have in common: They can break.

That’s exactly what happened to one woman who recently shared her chip card woes with WPTV, telling the Florida NBC affiliate that the chip fell out of her card after repeated use. (She said she super-glued it back on and used the card for a month before getting a replacement from her issuer, Chase.)

Dealing With a Broken Chip

It’s not uncommon for any type of credit or debit card to experience some disrepair. This is, after all, one of the reasons payment methods come with expiration dates. But, if your chip card happens to fall apart before its replacement is due to arrive, you should call your issuer to send a new one right away.

“In the rare instance this occurs, customers can contact us by calling the number on the back of their card,” a spokesperson for Chase said in an email.

“Our top recommendation is for the cardholder to call us and request a new card,” a spokesperson for Wells Fargo said in an email. “When their replacement card comes, it will have a different expiration date and CVV… so cardholders will need to update any recurring payments they have on that card.”

If you don’t update the information on bills set to auto-pay for recurring charges, like a monthly gym membership, you could miss a payment and ultimately hurt your credit score. (You can go here to learn more about what to do once you get a replacement card.) You can see how missed payments are affecting your credit by viewing your two free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.

A Security Issue?

You shouldn’t fret too much if a broken chip goes missing.

Under federal law, consumers may only be held liable for up to $50 in fraudulent credit card charges, and up to $500 in fraudulent debit card charges, but those limits apply only if they report them within 60 days. Beyond that window, losses could be unlimited. Most major card issuers, however, have zero-liability policies in place that can further shield consumers.

And, beyond these protections, a purported thief couldn’t use that chip to make a payment anyway.

“You cannot make a payment with just the chip,” Jason Oxman, CEO of the Electronic Transaction Association, said. For starters, you have to insert your card, not the chip, into a retailer’s EMV reader. And even if these devices were equipped to accept just a chip, the little microprocessor, which is responsible for providing a dynamic CVV code every time you dip, would be useless, since the code can only be generated if the original card and its chip are together.

“The gold contact on the front of the chip card is actually a contact plate to help power the chip when inserted; not the actual chip technology and it contains no data,” the Chase spokesperson said. “If the chip loses contact with the gold plate encasing it, it is rendered useless; if the chip is cut out or damaged, it no longer works.”

Of course, regardless of what payment method you use — and what state it’s in — it’s still important to monitor financial accounts for signs of fraud. Chips, after all, aren’t a failsafe when it comes to fraud, whether attached to cards or not. (They do little to protect your information, for instance, when you’re shopping online.) And the sooner you report suspicious charges to your issuer, the less hassles and potential liability you’ll face.

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Image: Martin Dimitrov

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