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Don’t have a chip card yet? Call your issuer

Sienna Kossman

The nationwide Oct. 1 EMV migration deadline is less than two weeks away, and I don’t have a single chip card in my wallet.

I have four credit cards from four different issuers, but since the news broke that the U.S. would switch to EMV payment technology, none have sent me any details about the upcoming changes, let alone new chip-equipped cards.

Friends and co-workers received their chip cards months ago. I’ve had all my cards for at least a year, have an excellent credit payment history and would love to use and benefit from this technology upgrade, but alas, I’m still swiping mag stripe cards.

To find out what the deal is, I called all four of my card issuers and got a variety of responses. Here’s what I learned:

Regions Bank – Regions Platinum Visa
According to a bubbly customer service representative, I would not automatically receive a chip card until my card expires, which is not until March 2017. However, the rep said she could submit a request for a chip-equipped card, which I could then expect to receive within 30 days. I asked that she do so because a year and a half is an awfully long time to wait.

U.S. Bank – U.S. Bank College Visa
This issuer call was super straightforward. I was told all cardholders should receive chip cards by the 20th of this month and by Oct. 1 at the latest. No special request needed.

American Express – Gold Delta SkyMiles card
I was informed that all American Express cards are being issued with chips in batches, not all at once. The customer service rep told me she’d have to check to see if my card is scheduled to be reissued soon. After I shared all my card details, I was told my card has not been assigned a reissue date yet. However, I could request an immediate upgrade, if I wished. I said yes and will now have this card with a chip within days. I got an email Friday notifying me that my new card was already in the mail!

(Update: I got this chip card on Wednesday, a day later than it was supposed to arrive, according to the shipment email. I was slightly underwhelmed by the card’s appearance when I opened the envelope, as the chip is nothing fancy — it almost looks like a sticker. But it’s my first chip card and I’m excited to use it!)

Synchrony Bank – American Eagle retail card
I’ve dubbed this call “the EMV fail.” After navigating through an overly complicated customer service answering system, when I finally spoke with an account representative, she said that because my card is not a use-anywhere, co-branded card, they aren’t going to issue it with a chip. I have the store-only version of the card. Only the version of this card that is co-branded with Visa is getting upgraded. The rep then asked if I wanted to apply for the co-branded card and get the chip benefits that way, but I said no. I’ve been thinking about ditching this store card for a while now, so this EMV news may be incentive to do that sooner rather than later. I just have to find a good replacement card first.

It’s clear issuers’ strategies differ on the EMV card migration. Some are automatically issuing chip cards to existing cardholders before the Oct. 1 deadline, while others are taking their sweet time and reissuing cards as need be when they expire — or in batches like American Express. As a consumer who holds a variety of cards, I found it confusing that not all issuers are following the same process.

I’m still stumped as to why some cardholders have chip cards in their wallets and others have only a few — or none, like me. My income level may have something to do with it, based on a CreditCards.com poll conducted earlier this year, which found that wealthy international travelers are getting chip cards first. I’m not a wealthy international traveler. But I am a young college graduate, which are two other factors that may increase the likelihood of holding an EMV card, according to the poll. Issuers must be considering other things, it seems, although no one wanted to volunteer such information during my customer service calls.

Regardless, if you don’t have a chip card yet and want one, I recommend calling your issuer. It may be able to speed up the process. If not, you’ll at least know why your cards are quickly becoming outdated pieces of technology.

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