Chip Cards Are Super Slow and Now Visa Is Trying to Fix That

chipping

If you’ve used a credit card lately, you’ve likely made the mistake of trying to swipe it (even though it has a magnetic stripe) because it also contains an EMV chip.

I do it all the time and feel like a dummy, especially as a credit card blogger that should know better. It’s a sense of pride and I always kind of chuckle to myself when I do it.

The other day I caught myself at the last minute and managed to impress the clerk by not swiping my chip card at a local CVS.

Still, I couldn’t help but notice it took so long for the transaction to complete. As it stands now, you kind of stand around awkwardly while the clerk kind of looks at their register awkwardly as 10 seconds or more go by.

Then you finally hear that welcoming, yet deafening alarm sound go off. Ironically, the alarm sound means your transaction was processed successfully!

[The Best Credit Cards to Use When Traveling Abroad]

Enter Quick Chip for EMV

Well, apparently Visa was aware of this long, awful process, and decided to do something about it, thankfully. This week, they launched the so-called “Quick Chip for EMV,” a technology that aims to speed up checkout times when using chip-enabled credit cards.

Instead of waiting for what seems like forever, you’ll soon be able to just dip your card in the slot and pull it out “typically in two seconds or less.” The trick is that you won’t have to wait for the transaction to be finalized before pulling out.

I think the current setup requires the entire transaction to go through before you can touch a thing – and it’s so hard to stand there without pulling the card out…no one likes to be away from their credit card for that long!

Even better, this “simple software update” to a merchant’s point of sale system will allow customers to check out while the shopping cart is still being rung up, similar to what you can do with the magnetic stripe credit cards (I still like to wait to see my total).

Visa says merchants can easily download the free software update to the payment terminal so the existing hardware can remain in place. And no change to the chip card is necessary either, fortunately.

[Debit vs. Credit: Which Is Better?]

This Only Applies to Visa Credit Cards

Now the bad news, at least for now. The Quick Chip for EMV software is only for Visa credit cards. Those with American Express, Discover, or MasterCard credit cards may continue to experience long waits at the counter when using a chip card.

I’m assuming the others will follow suit sooner rather than later, but in the meantime you might have to wait that brutal ~10 seconds for so.

Visa has already issued more than 265 million Visa credit and debit chip cards to U.S. consumers, which makes it the largest chip card market in the world (pretty amazing considering we had zero a year or so ago).

Additionally, the company said more than one million merchants have enabled chip card terminals, so roughly 20% of all merchant locations are now on board.

I’m still swiping and dipping, and I’ve come across some merchants that have the chip terminals with tape blocking the bay. Clearly some merchants all still figuring it all out…now if only they could do something about that startling alarm sound when a transaction is approved.

Author: Colin Robertson

Colin created this blog after spending several years in a job that required him to scour credit reports on a daily basis. His goal is to help individuals better understand their credit and get the most out of credit cards.