Understanding Chip Cards

What are chip cards?

Chip cards, already in use in much of the world, use a security standard originally developed by Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) as a way to fight card fraud resulting from theft, skimming and counterfeiting.

A chip card - also called a chip-enabled card, a smart card or an EMV card - is a debit or credit card that contains an embedded microchip that enhances the security of cardholder information during point-of-sale transactions.

Unlike traditional credit cards that store data on a magnetic stripe, chip cards store card data in tiny integrated circuits and are authenticated when the cardholder inputs a PIN into a point-of-sale terminal.

Enhanced Security for your Debit and Credit Cards

The embedded computer chip provides more security and wider international acceptance.

The microchip adds a new layer of protection against fraud for purchases made at the point of sale. Information programmed into the chip is personalized for your account and each transaction generates a unique code, adding an extra safeguard against unauthorized use and counterfeiting.

Chip cards with EMV technology are now the standard for debit and credit card security.

When will the change happen?

Santa Cruz County Bank currently issues chip-enabled credit cards and will begin to issue chip-enabled debit cards beginning in 2016.

Even though chip cards have started being issued in the U.S. and some merchants have already installed chip-enabled card terminals for payment, the entire conversion process is expected to take several years to complete.

All chip cards will also include a magnetic stripe on the back so if a merchant's terminal or an ATM is not yet chip-enabled, your transaction can still be processed using the magnetic stripe as it is today.

When will I get my chip card?

Credit Cards: All newly issued Santa Cruz County Bank credit cards will be chip cards. If you already have a Santa Cruz County Bank credit card, a new chip card will be issued to you as your current card expires.

Debit Cards: Chip-enabled Santa Cruz County Bank debit cards will be issued over time beginning in the spring of 2016. If you already have a debit card issued by Santa Cruz County Bank, there is no need to request a new card. A new chip debit card will be issued to you as your current card expires.

Once your new debit or credit card arrives, be sure to activate it for use and then destroy your old card.

There is no extra charge for the new chip card; however, a fee may be assessed for replacement cards.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use my chip card anywhere?
Yes. Your chip card can be used virtually anywhere this brand of card is accepted in the U.S. and around the world. If a merchant has a chip-enabled card terminal, you will insert your card during the transaction. In the U.S., you will still be able to swipe your card to make your payment if a merchant has not upgraded to an EMV compatible terminal. You will need a PIN to be able to make a transaction at an ATM.

Can I still use my current card?
You can use your current card until you get your chip card. At that time, activate your new chip card and start using it. Be sure to destroy your old card by cutting it up or shredding it.

Do I need to sign the back of the card?
Yes. You still need to sign the back of your card.

Can my card information still be stolen?
The chip alone does not make your card more secure. A chip transaction adds another layer of security to cards by requiring the chip to produce a single-use code to validate the transaction. This process makes your chip card information more difficult to steal, and therefore prevents counterfeit fraud. You should continue to use the same precautions you use today, like covering the keypad when you enter your PIN, to safeguard your card and information from theft.

Can I use it to make purchases online or by phone?
Yes. You can use your chip card to make these purchases as you do today. Since chip technology is activated by a chip-enabled terminal, the chip does not provide additional security for transactions made online or by phone. Chip card security measures work only for in-person or card-present transactions.

Online transactions using your chip card do not offer the same safety and security because the technology only works if a machine can physically read the chip on your card.

What is the difference between chip and signature and chip and PIN?
You may be asked to provide your signature or enter your PIN to complete a transaction when you use your card. You will need to use your PIN at ATMs and it may be required at some unattended terminals such as fuel pumps and payment kiosks.

When using the chip card at a point-of-sale terminal, consumers should use the PIN, instead of a signature, to verify the transaction. This fully utilizes the security features built with the EMV card.

What if my card is lost or stolen?
It's important to report a lost or stolen card immediately. Keep a record of the telephone number on the back of your card and call it if necessary.

Contact us for more information

Call us at 457.5000 or stop in if you have additional questions about chip cards, or if you are interested in opening an account.

Follow these steps to use your card at a chip-enabled terminal:

  1. Insert your card, face up and chip end into the chip-enabled terminal.
  2. Leave the card in the terminal during the entire transaction.
  3. Follow the instructions on the screen and either sign your name or enter your PIN as needed. Be sure to remove your card and take your receipt when the transaction is complete.
  4. If the merchant isn't using a chip-enabled terminal yet, you will swipe your card.

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