Video: Do I need a PIN for my EMV credit card?

By Dana Kochnower

New credit cards containing secure computer chips are being rolled out in the U.S. These EMV cards are sometimes called chip-and-PIN cards, which is confusing because you probably won't actually use a PIN like they do in other countries.

In our ongoing series of frequently asked questions about EMV cards, Randy Vanderhoof, the head of the Smart Card Alliance, explains that PINs get tricky with debit cards, which is why you'll probably be asked to sign for your transactions.

"All PINs are not the same in payment cards," he says. "There are what we call online PINS, which is what has traditionally been associated with your ATM card or your debit card, where you can pick your own four-digit PIN number and it is validated online, meaning by the bank prior to completing the payment transaction.

"What EMV brings is another type of PIN called offline PIN, where the PIN number is assigned and stored inside the chip and when the prompt asks you to enter in the PIN you are entering the matching PIN that is already stored inside the chip.

"The concern for the industry is, this is going to be very confusing for consumers, particularly if they have two different PINS on one card -- one for when they select debit as the method of payment, or when they select credit as the method of payment on a debit card. And for that reason along with other reasons, financial institutions seem to be leaning toward not going with the added offline PIN, but rather using signature, which is the way consumers are normally used to using their cards in those retail settings."

See related: EMV FAQ 1: Do I need to swipe my EMV credit card?, EMV FAQ 3: Will EMV credit cards protect my online purchases?, EMV FAQ 4: Will EMV chip cards work in NFC mobile wallets?

Published: April 16, 2015

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