Soon, U.S. overseas travelers’ frustrations with credit cards could ease. Visa and MasterCard have issued an October 2015 deadline for the switch from the swipe-and-sign cards, the standard in the U.S., to a chip-reading system, which is used nearly everywhere else in the world.

New credit cards being sent to consumers from Visa, American Express and other credit card companies have information embedded in a microchip, instead of on a magnetic strip. How do you know if your card has a chip? Just look for a gold or silver square box on the front of the card.

Last time I picked up supplies at Target, I didn’t swipe my card. Instead, I slid it into a chip reader, since my card has a chip. I consider my Target checkout practice before heading overseas. Target recently announced that all of its stores are set up to accept chip credit cards.

One reason for the move: Chip cards are much harder to hack. Credit card fraud, including the Target breach, will be much more difficult to pull off. That’s good news for all U.S. consumers.

The shift could also be great news to overseas travelers, many of whom faced inconvenience when kiosks and businesses in far-flung places refused to accept their credit cards without chips. But one issue remains: Cards issued with a chip in the United States still require a signature. In other words, they are a chip-and-sign card. Overseas, the standard is chip-and-pin cards, which require verification with a personal identification number (PIN) instead of a signature.

Before heading to lands far and wide, check to see if your card can be used with a PIN. And, as before, be sure to carry at least some cash in the event your credit card won’t work.


Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.