Credit cards with chips

Closeup of a credit card with a gold chip

Closeup of a credit card with a gold chip

The end of the credit card swipe is upon us. Starting this month, more and more consumers will dip their new security-enhanced cards bearing shiny computer chips into the slots of just-as-new card readers on the counter. That’s if merchants and credit-card issuers meet this month’s deadlines.

 If you haven’t received a new credit card bearing a shiny computer chip by now — and especially if you have no idea what we’re talking about — don’t worry. You can still swipe your old card to buy stuff for a little longer. But here are some common questions and answers you’ll need to know going forward. What is happening with credit cards and why now?

The massive shift to cards that you dip instead of swipe into a card reader at the store comes from an agreement among the large credit card companies and issuers, such as banks and airlines, according to Randy Vanderhoof, head of the nonprofit Smart Card Alliance in New Jersey. Although Europeans have been using chip-cards for years, the impetus for bringing the technology to America is an explosion in counterfeiting and fraud, most notably the notorious theft of credit card numbers from Target department stores two years ago.

How do I know if I already have a chip-card?

 You can actually see and touch the silver-colored rectangular chip — it has criss-crossing geometric lines — on the face of the card, immediately above the first numbers.

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