Chip cards – Frequently asked questions

Chip cards – Frequently asked questions

Q. What is a chip card?

A. A chip card is a credit or debit card with a built-in microchip instead of a magnetic stripe that lets you make the same transactions. Because of their features and the way they work, chip cards are the most secure solution on the market to prevent card skimming.

Chip cards are not:

  • electronic wallets
  • pre-paid cards
  • gift cards
  • combined credit and debit cards

Q. What are the main differences between magnetic stripe cards and chip cards?

A. Chip card technology offers increased security because it reduces the risk of card skimming. The way chip cards are used differs slightly from magnetic stripe cards.

  • Chip credit card transactions are authenticated by a personal identification number (PIN) instead of a signature, which adds an additional level of security and speeds up transaction time at retailer terminals.
  • Chip cards must be inserted and remain in the point of sale terminal until the transaction is completed.  

Q. Are magnetic stripe cards no longer secure?

A. Magnetic stripe cards are secure and chip card technology will only step up this security.

Q. Just how do chip cards protect me against card skimming?

A. Chip card technology increases protection against card skimming. But it only does so if transactions are made entirely using chip card technology, meaning on chip-enabled point of sale terminals.

Q. Are chip cards accepted everywhere magnetic stripe cards are?

A. Chip card technology requires new equipment, which is being implemented on a gradual basis with retailers everywhere. For transitional purposes, your Caisse populaire Access cards will have both a microchip and a magnetic stripe so it can be accepted everywhere, whether chip card technology is available or not, including abroad.

Q. Do I still have to sign the back of my card?

A. Yes, you need to sign the back of your new debit or credit chip card, in the indicated area. You may still be asked to sign a receipt to authorize a transaction at retailer terminals that have not yet been upgraded to accept chip cards and PINs.

Q. Do I get to choose whether I use my PIN or sign the receipt for a credit transaction?

A. When you use a chip card at a chip-enabled terminal, you will be asked to follow the prompts to complete the transaction. You cannot choose to sign rather than enter a PIN. If the terminal is not chip-enabled, you will be asked to sign the receipt to authorize the transaction.

Q. Can I get a 4-digit PIN to be able to make transactions in Europe?

A. Since our chip card technology is the same as the one currently used in Europe, the cards are compatible with chip-enabled equipment on that continent.  In keeping with international agreements made by payment associations, your Caisse populaire has implemented a 5-digit PIN, which is more secure. Some institutions, however, have not yet conformed to the agreements.

Q. Will my magnetic stripe card still be accepted in ATMs throughout the world?

A. Magnetic stripe credit and debit cards will still be accepted at ATMs in the PLUS network worldwide and the Interac network in Canada.

Q. Is there a chance my chip card may not work outside the country?

A. Some retailers abroad may not be able to accept chip cards with 5-digit PINs for payment. If this occurs, it does not mean your card is no longer valid; it simply means the point of sale terminal has not yet been upgraded to chip card technology standards. Currently, Mastercard International standards require that MasterCard retailers throughout the world accept chip cards with PINs of 4 to 13 digits (except in the U.S. where chip technology is not yet available). If you experience a problem with your chip card in a retail outlet, keep your transaction receipt and contact your Caisse populaire with the details of the transaction. We’ll follow up with MasterCard to rectify the situation.

Q. Are retailers authorized to ask me for my PIN to be able to enter it themselves on the terminal?

A. Only you must know your PIN. Never share this information with anyone. You must therefore enter your PIN yourself at all times.

Q. Can my magnetic stripe card be skimmed while making a transaction on a point of sale terminal not yet upgraded to chip technology?

A. Yes. The best way to reduce the risk of card skimming is to use your chip card on point of sale terminals that have been upgraded to chip technology.

Q. Why are magnetic stripe credit and debit cards being replaced by chip cards?

A. Chip card technology is currently the best solution on the market to reduce the risk of skimming fraud. All Canadian financial institutions, including your Caisse populaire , are currently migrating to this proven technology. The changeover is inevitable.  Chip cards have been in use for many years in several countries, mostly in Europe.