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AAA adopts chip cards

By Janna Herron ·
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Posted: 4 pm ET

AAA credit cards are becoming even more travel-friendly. The country's largest travel organization is outfitting its co-branded credit cards with EMV chip anti-theft technology that's widely used abroad.

The organization said Monday that current cardholders simply need to call customer service to request a new card with the chip. The card will still feature the familiar magnetic strip on the back that's commonly accepted in the U.S.

EMV cards -- an acronym for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the developers of the technology standard -- have an embedded microchip that encrypts card and transaction data uniquely each time it's used, making it harder for thieves to clone. EMV cards are common throughout Europe and Canada and are quickly becoming status quo in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

"Chip-enabled cards will expand purchase options, add convenience and transaction security for Americans traveling abroad," said Siobhan O'Donnell, director of AAA's financial services, sales and marketing, in a company press release. Cardholders will be able to use their AAA cards where magnetic-strip cards would be rejected, such as some foreign tolls, train station kiosks, unmanned gas stations and merchants in rural areas.

AAA issues credit cards through its partnership with Bank of America, which has also rolled out chip cards. The bank began offering chip versions of its corporate cards last November, and then expanded its offerings to regular credit card holders in July.

Other major U.S. banks have started to provide chip cards as well, including Chase, Citi, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo along with several credit unions, especially to wealthy globetrotters and business travelers.

The major payment processors -- Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover -- also have been instrumental in ushering chip cards stateside. Led by Visa, the processors have announced initiatives to persuade U.S. retailers to accept chip cards over the next few years.

It probably won't be long until a chip card is in your wallet. Or, do you have one yet? Like it?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron

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