Chip technology is the next generation of credit and debit card security and it's now the standard in Europe and other places around the world. This traveler just returned from a recent London adventure and found that while most merchants and many ATMs will accept regular American debit / credit cards, most automated systems will not. Automated systems are things like ticketing machines in train stations, public rental bikes and other places where travelers could be inconvenienced without a chip card.
What is a chip card?
Chip technology takes the standard credit (or debit) card and adds a small SIMM chip on the face. The chip has data which is accessed during the transaction process and the whole procedure is more secure. The cards (and embedded chips) are also much harder to counterfeit than existing cards. The chip card process also incorporates a second layer of security sometimes requiring the entry of the PIN code.
What if I don't have a chip card?
Most merchants can still swipe a credit card or can enter the numbers manually. Travelers will experience problems at some ATM machines and any automated systems such as those found at train stations. In peak summer travel season, this can mean a long wait in the long line to buy a ticket from a human being.
How do I get a chip card?
Most banks and credit card companies will begin to issue all customers chip cards over the next year or two. Currently, travelers should ask their card provider to send them a chip card. Wells Fargo is being proactive about the situation and sent this traveler an ATM chip card after noticing frequent international travel. The card was easily activated and works like a standard ATM card in the US and offers this traveler the features, security and convenience of a chip card while exploring the world.
Source: Travel Examiner