Stuck Abroad: My Credit Card Doesn’t Work

May 31, 2014

For Americans who like to travel, international credit cards are a headache. The classic magnetic strip credit card isn’t used in most European countries and in other highly developed countries around the world. Swipe and sign simply isn’t an effective option. Why does this happen to Americans abroad? The answer is straight forward and coming soon to a credit card near you.



Europay-MasterCard-Visa (EMV) Chip Technology

Most European countries now use EMV chip credit cards. These chips make duplicating credit cards for fraudulent activity far more difficult. Instead of using a magnetic strip they have a chip that a customer uses by ‘dipping’ the credit card into a reader. Then there’s an option of using a PIN number or signing to complete the transaction.


The EMV chip technology is far more secure than the classic magnetic strips, and in the wake of recent consumer data breaches at Target Corp. and other retail giants, these EMV chip credit cards are coming to the US. In 2015 the liability for a fraudulent transaction will shift as a result of the EMV chip technology. This means merchants and customers will need new terminals and new replacement credit cards to complete a retail transaction.


Replacement Credit Cards

This new shift in technology means that Visa and MasterCard will have to re-issue millions upon millions of credit cards already in circulation. The good news is that when your old magnetic strip card is replaced with the EMV chip card, you will have no problems traveling abroad and using your credit card. Yet, this replacement could still cause problems for travelers who are abroad at the time of the switch. As Visa and MasterCard replace your credit card, your current card will be deactivated. If you are already traveling and unable to access your new card you could be unable to complete any credit transactions.


Those who travel frequently are encouraged to contact their credit card provider to access information about the new cards being issued. Care will have to be taken to plan that you will be able to access your new credit card as EMV technology goes ‘live’ in the United States.



The EMV chip credit card technology will improve security for American consumers. Visa and MasterCard are both leading industry initiatives to improve security across the board in electronic transactions. Yet, for travelers, when one aspect of international travel becomes simplified, another becomes more complex. Be sure to contact your provider to know when the EMV chip cards will be activated for your account and plan accordingly. Finally, it is important to remember that even though you may have an EMV chip technology, they won’t protect you from card-not-present transactions such as purchasing an item on the internet. Always take care to protect your sensitive credit card information online.


About the Author


Hi, my name is Blair Thomas and I’m a passionate electronics payment expert who started, where we specialize in setting up your Adult Business with an Adult Merchant Account. My company helps high risk businesses lock down the high risk merchant account they need to do business. Check out the eMerchantBroker YouTube Channel for more info on their services.


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