When news hit that the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® was being tweaked to include Chip & PIN capability, I dutifully ordered mine the minute the option became available on the website. At the time, I knew my next most likely opportunity to try the chip capabilities would be on a then forthcoming trip to Canada. Now, when you receive the card, the materials that come with it refer to the card as Chip & Signature with PIN capability. They also say that you must sign for your first transaction in an international location, but then you should be able to use your PIN.
After enjoying a first lunch in Canada, I used my Arrival+ to pay. The card machine had both chip reading and swipe capability, so I went for the chip slot. Having watched the patrons paying prior to me from a distance, I could see that all used chip cards, and no one signed receipts. I worked through the menu, and out came a receipt for me to sign. Worked like a charm. I thought the next transaction might offer the PIN option, but that did not happen, again, I received a signature slip. This repeated itself for each transaction during the weekend, and not once was I offered the PIN option when making a purchase. I experienced no issues with any merchant except one. On Saturday afternoon I was dispatched to the local store to purchase wine for dinner. It was clear that the clerk had not seen a signature slip for a card purchase in a long time. That led to a request for my driver’s license. After providing that, there were some strange stares at the merchant receipt, looking for what, I do not know, then I was told to have a nice day.
In the end, the trip went fine, and the card worked flawlessly, even if it never did default to the PIN when making a purchase. I do not know enough about EMV technology to understand why this might be the case. Our neighbors to the north likely see enough Americans in most cities to not be surprised when they see a signature slip. Nonetheless, chips are coming to a credit card near you very soon if they haven’t already. Here’s some interesting reading aimed at merchants faced with the conversion to EMV.
-MJ, July 9, 2014