On July 23, Bank of America announced that many of its consumer credit cards will soon have chip technology, which is the standard in Europe and many other countries. I’m thrilled because I am a long-time Bank of America customer and a frequent traveler. I actually just returned from a week and a half in Ireland. Quite a few people working at stores and restaurants expressed surprise that we still use magnetic stripe cards and said they seemed so much less secure.
Learn more about that and read my roundup of my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week!
Last weekend, my fiance and I went and saw “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” Although the plot had a few flaws, I really enjoyed it. What took me by surprise was how current it is and how much of the plot it based on the beginning of our country’s recession.
The movie is a sequel to the 1987 film “Wall Street,” but this film is set just a few years ago, right when the economy first buckled. It shows the despair felt by the first major investment firm that realized it was going down and the panic it caused the stock market. It also shows the private meetings between the Fed and its board of bankers and investors who discuss the concept of “too big to fail” for the first time.
The movie concludes by making the case that much of our current economic system is unsustainable and will continue causing cycles of bubbles and bursts if left unchanged. The narrator reminds us that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I’m interested to see if President Obama’s Wall Street reform initiatives will produce different results.
On that note, I hope you will read on for my roundup of my favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week.
Nearly two years ago, I blogged on this site about some of the financial challenges I faced while on a two-week trip in Europe. Other than pay toilets and the large minimum amount required to use a credit card, an issue I frequently encountered in France was the lack of acceptance of American credit cards on the metro ticket machines.
Chip-and-PIN credit cards feature an additional layer of security. They work differently from the traditional magnetic swipe cards; rather than being swiped, they are inserted into a reader and the user enters a PIN number, much like they would for a debit card. They are so secure and widespread in Europe that, if you use an old-school swipe card there, they heavily scrutinize you.
Jim at NetBanker has a recent blog post about this very topic. He discusses the modern Velib bike-sharing program in Paris, which allows anyone to rent a bike through automated, unmanned kiosks across the city. You can subscribe for 5 euros a week or 29 euros annually, and that gives you the first 30 minutes of any ride free (and then it begins charging you hourly). The catch? They only accept credit cards and debit cards, and you guessed it — they only take chip-and-PIN cards. He suggests a new product that would allow financial institutions to capitalize on this need.
Longtime readers know that I travel often and have encountered many issues with credit cards and problems with money abroad. I’ve even seen a different type of plastic: the chip-and-PIN card. Most European countries now use chip-and-PIN credit cards, which involve an extra layer of security. They are processed differently and use different card readers.
While many institutions in Europe are still set up to accept payments from both old-school magnetic swipe cards and new chip-and-PIN cards, an increasing number are not. U.S. travelers carrying old-school mag stripe cards are increasingly confronted with mass transit ticket dispensers and parking meters that don’t take the cards and puzzled looks or outright suspicion from store clerks unfamiliar with them.
So when CreditCards.com learned that United Nations Federal Credit Union is going to soon be the first U.S. financial institution to issue a chip-and-PIN credit card, I it was interested, and I was ecstatic! UNFCU has told us that they will launch the Europay MasterCard Visa (EMV) toward the end of 2010.
I wanted to learn more about this major development, so I contacted Elisabeth Philippe, Business Development/PR Manager for UNFCU. She answered several questions for me via email. Read on to learn more about this exciting new product that will make it even easier for Americans traveling abroad!