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I just got a credit card from Chase with a chip -- American banks are starting to offer them. I'd like to know if anyone has used such a card in the U.K. recently and how that all worked out.

According to the guy at Chase, the deal with this card is that the chip helps it be compatible with U.K. point-of-sale systems, but the system will prompt the merchant for a signature (whereas their U.K. cards prompt for a PIN).

He also said that in some train stations this card won't work at an automated ticket kiosk because there's no PIN and the kiosk doesn't have a signature pad.

OK, great. So that's the bank's story.

I'm looking for up-to-date first-hand information from anyone who has used this type of card in the U.K. -- where it worked, where it didn't, any other useful information.

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It sounds like you might have a "chip and signature" card. If so, these are rare, but not unheard of. Do you have a pin for the card at all, or is it only ever used for signatures? –  Gagravarr May 17 '12 at 3:17
Yeah, the card has a chip but there's no PIN and when I used it in the UK, they asked for a signature. I didn't have any major problems with it. –  Ethan May 30 '12 at 0:25
Note that "the chip helps it be compatible with U.K. point-of-sale system" is true, but the UK can also still handle strip-and-signature cards. We haven't phased them out in our POS systems, as so many tourists have them. –  Jon Story Jan 29 at 13:30

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Coming from New Zealand, when I arrived in the UK I had one of the credit cards that I hadn't gotten around to putting a pin on. But without fail, as long as there was a person there, they'd be happy to let me sign for it - and they'd usually request a form of ID to compare with.

In theory a pin is more secure, but signing is still perfectly valid.

I then got myself a chipped and pinned debit card while living there, so I didn't end up using my NZ one that often, but when I did, it worked.

I had a bit more trouble in Central Asian countries, but a bit of hand waving and you'd usually get the message across ;)

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"signing is still perfectly valid", IIRC Visa and MC guidelines are, to completely deprecate signing by end of 2012. –  vartec Oct 28 '12 at 23:44

I'm from Ireland (which is similar to UK in this regard). Here many many point-of-sale or ATMs will be chip and pin. I overheard some Americans recently in my local supermarket unable to use their swipe credit card.

However I've never heard of these chip cards without a pin. Here "Chip 'n PIN" is what it's called at. You may have to explain to people about the lack of PIN. I'd be slightly surprised if it were to work without the PIN.

You could always use your card in a bank to get cash and just spend cash there. Or to be on the total safe side, get a proper chip & pin card.

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Chip and PIN cards aren't expected to be available in the US for a few more years. –  Michael Hampton Jun 12 '14 at 19:23
Chip-and-Signature is what they are called in the UK. They're used in Europe by some disabled people who can't use Chip-and-PIN, so they should be accepted quite widely, as the various national disability-rights laws require them. Unattended devices (like parking machines, rail-ticket machines, ATMs) are the main exception. –  Richard Gadsden Jun 18 '14 at 11:06

Let's get a bit of history. Most of the cards that were in use in Europe for quite awhile now act as what in the US would be called a Debit Card, which means that you would be using it to pay for merchandise you would be asked to authenticate yourself by using a PIN essentially making a vendor an ATM machine. (For those of us who have been around awhile debit cards weren't VISA or MC)

The Smart Chip that you have in your card now will allow the reading terminal to authenticate your account possibly without the signature or PIN.

Chip like this have been available in Discover and AMEX cards for quite some time and if you are aware of Exxon's SpeedPass which is basically the same thing. You just wave your card in front of a reader and all the information is passed through automatically and shouldn't prompt a vendor or you for anything though depending on the system it may not be the case.

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You're describing two completely different chips. The EMV chip is a smart card that requires physical contact with a reader; the latter is an RFID/NFC chip which is contactless. They are not compatible. –  Michael Hampton Jun 12 '14 at 19:21

I have had a chip-and-no-PIN MasterCard, Visa card and American Express card issued by Malaysian financial institutions for ages and throughout my travels to London, Paris, Rome/Venice, Sydney/Melbourne, Hong Kong, Tokyo/Osaka - none of my transactions have been declined by merchants. What I observed while queuing up to pay was that the locals have to key in their PIN, but I have to sign my signature on the transaction slip.

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For credit cards you can sign, even if they are debit versions of the cards. This may not work for other kinds of cards (ones without MC/Visa/AMEX/Diners logos). –  hippietrail Oct 28 '12 at 9:30

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