Welcome to the future: Fifth Third Bank becomes the latest credit card issuer to offer chip cards, while Discover makes it easier for its cardholders to use the new smartphone wallet from Google.
First up: Fifth Third announced on Monday that it's outfitting its corporate credit cards with EMV chip technology -- named for the developers of the technology standard Europay, MasterCard and Visa.
EMV cards contain a microprocessor chip that encrypts transaction information differently every time the card is used. That makes it infinitely harder for criminals to pick up useable data to make a counterfeit card.
These cards also are widely used in Europe and are quickly being adopted as the standard in Asia, Latin America and other parts of the world. They're so popular internationally that train station kiosks, unmanned gas stations, toll booths and merchants in rural areas abroad may not accept cards with the traditional, back-facing magnetic strip familiar to most Americans. And that could lead to inconvenient travel snafus.
The big four payment networks -- Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover -- have announced carrot-and-stick type efforts to get retailers stateside to accept chip cards. In the meantime, many major issuers are rolling out EMV chips on credit cards that cater to affluent globetrotters and business travelers.
If you're planning a trip abroad and worrying about traveling chipless, remember to carry other forms of payment to avoid sticky payment situations. Consider buying train tickets ahead of time and mapping out tolls if you're on the road.
Next: Discover last week installed a button on its cardholders' online accounts that uploads their credit cards to Google Wallet. The app created by the search engine giant transforms a smartphone into a payment method. Consumers can leave their cards at home and pay instead by tapping their phones at registers that accept that type of transaction.
Earlier this month, Google said MasterCard and Visa credit cards -- in addition to Discover cards -- could be added to its wallet. American Express has yet to sign on. Previously, Google Wallet only stored some Citi MasterCards and the Google Prepaid Card. The app is only available on six phones from Sprint and Virgin Mobile and the Nexus 7 tablet.
Have you used the latest credit card technology, either chip cards or a mobile wallet? Share your experience.
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