Banks Launch Credit Cards That Work Better Overseas

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Courtesy Bank of America
A chip-and-PIN card

Americans traveling outside the US often find that their credit and debit cards don't work at many places, such as gas stations and ATMs.

That's because most other countries have switched from magnetic stripe, signature-based cards to "chip-and-PIN" technology, which means that their cards come with a microprocessor chip that adds additional security.

Last week, Bank of America began issuing credit cards with chips embedded in them, making them easy to use when traveling abroad. Not to worry: These cards still have the magnetic stripe and will be accepted as usual in the US.

All new BankAmericard Travel Rewards, BankAmericard Privileges, Virgin Atlantic travel credit cards, and Merrill Lynch credit cards will now come with the travel-friendly technology.

Customers who hold the following cards will be able to visit banking centers or call BofA to ask to receive replacement cards with the chip:: BankAmericard Cash Rewards, BankAmericard Power Rewards, BankAmericard, AAA Members Rewards, NEA, Asiana Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Other banks will copy the move, as the production costs for the chips are dropping -- currently down to $3 a chip.

Visa has told businesses they have until 2015 to switch to card-reading machines that accept chip-and-PIN cards. After that date, merchants will become liable for any fraud that may result from a fake signature.

In related news, the new Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve has a chip. So does the Travelex Chip and Pin Card.

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