Credit Cards

Tips, news, reviews, caveats, trends, updates and analysis related to consumer and business credit cards, and prepaid debit cards. From the interest rate specialists @

Monday, December 14, 2015

Where's My Smart Card?

Citi MasterCard with PayPass Sticker
Citi® MasterCar®d with PayPass® Sticker
I was so envious reading about people getting their new smart credit and debit cards from card issuers, and I was starting to wonder why the banks I deal with hadn't sent me new smart cards automatically (smart card, also known as smart chip cards, EMV cards and chip-enabled cards.)

The tiny chips in smart cards work together with smart-card terminals to create a unique and secure transaction at the point of sale, which makes shopping with these cards much safer than cards that only have a swipeable magnetic strip. 

I'm not interested in having a radio-frequency identification (RFID)-enabled chip in my credit and debit cards, because of this, but I am interested in upgrading to smart credit and debit cards without the RFID.

OK, so it seems that banks like +Citi® have figured how to keep wary cardholders like yours truly happy by separating the RFID from the EMV, via a sticker (pictured, top left.)  You can attach the sticker to your smart phone, or to your credit or debit card, or to anything you'd like to use for contactless payments (like your car's key fob.)  This system lets cardholders use contactless payment technology (either RFID or near-field communication [NFC]) if they want to, and opt out very easily if they don't.

I Just Ordered My Citi EMV Card

With my Citi Dividend World MasterCard®, I clicked the Account Management link in the top left navigation bar, which took me to a page where I found a link for Replacement Card/Chip Upgrade.  Alternatively, I could have waited for my current card to expire, at which point Citi would have sent me a new smart card automatically.

I'm looking forward to the arrival of this smart credit card, as it means no more handing over my card to strangers who may do bad things with it while it's away from my eyes.


Note that:

  • Even with smart cards that have no RFID technology in them, the system can still be hacked, but it's still much safer than the fading standard of magnetic-strip swiping.

  • I've read of people complaining that they can't execute a convenient cash withdrawal on top of a purchase when using their smart debit card.

  • Also heard that some merchants are rejecting the old magnetic-strip cards now, because if the transaction turns out to be fraudulent, it's likely that the merchant will have to eat 100% of the cost, whereas before the cost would often be shared between the card issuer and the merchant.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

How To Disable An RFID Chip In A Debit / Credit Card

Having an RFID chip in your credit or debit card can be a security risk, as posted here, so here's a YouTube clip explaining how to disable these chips permanently...

Cards that use RFID chips include Visa® PayWave®, MasterCard® PayPass®, American Express® ExpressPay® and Discover® Zip.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

RFID and Smart Credit Cards: Making It Easy for Electronic Pickpockets

RFIDI have a love/hate relationship with RFID technology.

Every time I ease through the E-ZPass lane at a toll both, and slip passed non-E-ZPass users who have to wait in line to pay their toll in cash, I'm thankful.

Love E-ZPass. But I'm not a fan of RFID chips in my credit cards.

Smart credit cards use RFID technology. They allow cardholders to checkout faster than ever, with a simple wave of the card in front of a card reader. My main debit card offers super-fast "Blink" checkout, but I never use it (at least, I don't think I have!) When I checkout at e.g. +Walmart, I'm perfectly happy to swipe my card then sign the electronic signature pad. It's fast enough for me, and keeps me from worry too much about becoming a target of an electronic pickpocket.

How easy for it for someone to read the payment cards in your wallet? Much easier than you probably realize. Check out this YouTube clip:

So, what to do?

One solution: call your credit-card bank and ask them to replace any smart cards they've issued you with good, old fashioned dumb cards (sans RFID chips.) Unfortunately, many credit-card banks are so committed to smart cards that your request for a de-evolved card will probably be met with resistance.

In my opinion, it's worth it to try. My thesis: If enough people make the request, banks will get the message and will probably move to improve current smart card technologies, sooner rather than later.

I could use a metal wallet, but I don't like the idea of using something that bulky. I guess I could buy a bunch of thin, protective sleeves for each card, but I'm not ready to do that yet.

Maybe I should be.

Back in 2008, my debit card info was stolen and used (or sold) by a waitress at a popular seafood restaurant. She used one of those pager-sized card readers to swipe my card. I'm pretty sure she sold the info, because the fraudulent charge was for $150-worth of flowers from a retailer in Eastern Europe. Hard to prevent this type of theft, because restaurant staff always take your card away from you and out of sight when you pay. Needless to say, I've been using cash to pay for meals more often than I used to.

And because credit card info is being stolen from websites more often these days, I've gotten into the habit of using PayPal to pay for goods online. Another decent alternative is to use Google Checkout.

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