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My new credit card (Mastercard) has no magnetic stripe. It has a chip, Near Field Communication (NFC), and the 16-digit number along with validity date and CVV code. Will I encounter any limitations if I try to use it in the United States, for example to rent cars or hotel rooms? In 2019, do magnetic stripe payments still exist in the USA or has chip and PIN (or chip and sign) meanwhile become ubiquitous there as well? AFAIK the rest of the world uses chip and PIN (or no card payments at all), and if I remember correctly most payments I made in spring 2018 in the USA were with chip and PIN, but I'm not sure if magnetic stripe payments have disappeared like they did in Europe one or two decades ago.

This question differs from German credit card in the US because my card doesn't have a magnetic strip at all.

  • You just need chip-and-whatever, not necessarily chip-and-pin specifically, right? I seem to recall that chip-and-signature is supposedly not uncommon in the US. – Henning Makholm Jul 17 at 15:43
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    @HenningMakholm indeed, chip-and-PIN is almost unknown in the US. – phoog Jul 17 at 16:05
  • @HenningMakholm Chip and sign works, I've even done that in Germany a couple of times. – gerrit Jul 17 at 19:13
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    Are you sure the card does not have a magnetic stripe? I've seen some cards that have different colored stripes other than black now, so if your card, say, silver, and so is the stripe, you might just not be able to see it. – PhilippNagel Jul 17 at 19:30
  • @PhilippNagel Quite sure. There's certainly nothing visible in any color. I've read in various places that credit cards are delivered without magnetic stripes by default, only a minority of "world traveller" credit cards still have one. Card issuers are liable for losses due to fraud and fraud is too easy with the magnetic strip, so they by default issue cards without. This has been the default in Germany for the past 5 years or so. – gerrit Jul 17 at 20:59
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At this point in 2019, nearly every credit card terminal in the US is set up to read both chip and contactless. There are still some exceptions out there, (e.g. you can't use contactless at Walmart because they want to force people to use their own payment app) but while they're uncommon it's hard to predict where you'll run into one. Except for paying at the pump at gas stations, which seems to be the last place where chips aren't read, but these probably wouldn't have worked with your card even if it had a magnetic stripe. (But in that case you just pay inside.) You'll probably want to have some cash on hand and/or another card, just to be sure.

P.S. While you didn't ask, someone else who reads this will need to know: If you use a MC/Visa Debit card at a US payment terminal, and it asks you "Debit or Credit", always select Credit. "Debit" in the US is a completely different network that MC/Visa do not run on.

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    According to this infographic from Visa, 75% of US storefronts accept chip cards. It's a sizeable majority, but I'm not sure it should be described as "nearly every terminal". – Michael Seifert Jul 17 at 17:18
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    I run into quite a few stores in my area (town of around 75,000 people) that do have the chip terminals, but have signs taped over them indicating they are not activated. Tends to be mostly chain stores, I assume their IT processes for this conversion are just slow and cumbersome. – PhilippNagel Jul 17 at 19:29
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    Besides gas pumps, a lot of other self-service kiosk things don't yet accept chips either. Parking meters, transit ticket machines, vending machines, etc. And in these cases, there is often no attendant available to run the card manually. Cash is usually still an alternative at these, but you may need exact change. ATMs are another question, especially the generic ones in convenience stores etc, but hopefully OP is not going to need to use the card for cash advances anyway. – Nate Eldredge Jul 17 at 20:44
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    Here in California, I still see a lot of restaurants using POS terminals with mag stripe readers on the side of the screen. – DoxyLover Jul 17 at 23:48
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    Most food trucks and other family businesses still require magstrips, as well as any card reader built into something large and heavy, like gas stations or mid-age vending machines. – Mooing Duck Jul 18 at 0:27

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