You can’t much pick up the paper or turn on the telly without hearing something about credit card fraud and identity theft these days. That’s why the UK credit card market started testing a new type of card back in 2003. By mid-2004, the new Chip and PIN card was declared a resounding success after a wide ranging trial in Northampton. There was already a good deal of evidence for using the Chip and PIN method to verify credit cards and users. A similar experiment in France showed that the Chip and PIN reduced credit card fraud by as much as 80%. The Northampton trial showed similar numbers. As of February 14 of this year (2006), Chip and PIN is the standard method for all credit card transactions.

What are Chip and PIN credit cards?

Instead of a magnetic stripe, Chip and PIN cards contain a miniature computer chip that stores information about your account. When you present your card to a merchant, or slide it through the card reader at the till, the cashier will ask you to enter a 4-digit PIN (personal identification number) to confirm that you are the proper owner of that credit card. That’s all there is to it.

How do I get my Chip and PIN card?

Many credit card companies have already started replacing old style credit cards with Chip and PIN cars. As of February, though, all new cards issued in the UK must be Chip and PIN cards. That means if you apply for a credit card, or if your credit card reaches expiry and is replaced with a new card, the card that you get will be one of the new Chip and PIN cards.

What if I can’t use a Chip and PIN card?

The Chip and PIN may be difficult for some people, specifically those who are blind or partially sighted. If you will have trouble entering a PIN number into the machine, you should notify your credit card company and request a Chip and Signature card. If you’ve already been issued a Chip and PIN card, you can request a replacement Chip and Signature card from the company that issued your card.

How will I know my PIN?

The company that issued your credit card will let you know your PIN. Many mail your PIN to you in a separate envelope on a different day from your card itself to ensure that only you will get BOTH the card and the PIN. You’ll be able to change your PIN at most UK cash machines if needed to be sure that you have a PIN that’s easy for you to remember.

What happens if I use the wrong PIN?

If you enter the wrong PIN three times in a row, your credit card will be locked and you won’t be able to use it to purchase things at the till. If that happens, you should contact your credit card company immediately for instructions on how to unlock your credit card.

What if I forget my PIN when I get to the till?

Simply tell the cashier that you can’t remember your PIN, and they’ll tell you what options you have to identify yourself. If you can’t use any of the options, you’ll need to use an alternative method for that transaction.

You can apply for a credit card with Chip and PIN technology through one of the many UK credit card companies listed on some excellent comparison sites where you find the very best credit card UK issuers have available.