Best EMV Credit Cards: Which One Should You Get?

Best EMV Credit Cards: Which One Should You Get?

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Choosing the best credit card that is also EMV-compliant is dependent upon a number of factors that range from where you plan on using the card, to what your personal spending profile looks like. Before choosing a card, weigh both your options or needs. For example, while chip & pin credit cards are more universally accepted, you may not be travelling to countries where they are a necessity. In our analysis, we looked at some of the most broad and encompassing categories consumers will fall into. For a more personalized list of best EMV credit cards, that is catered specifically to your spending habits, check out our tool at the bottom of this page.

Best EMV Credit Cards For Those Seeking…

If you aren't quite sure which of the above EMV credit cards is right for you, look to our section below, briefly explaining smartchip credit cards. There, we go over the pros and cons of each, and why we'd value one over another.

Best Chip & Pin Credit Cards

Chip & Pin EMV cards tend to offer the best security to their users when compared to all three major credit card types. Using these cards will be similar to paying with a debit card, in that you will have to enter a PIN with some purchases. It is possible that some vendors will require you to still sign for your purchases (just as with a Chip & Signature card). We evaluated the best Chip & Pin credit cards based on two broad cases - for individuals who are likely to use their credit cards when travelling (or paying for travel expenses) and those who will predominantly make ordinary, domestic purchases (gas, dining, etc.).

Best Chip and Pin Credit Card for Travelers: Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
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On top of being one of the best travel credit cards, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is part of the most secure and widely accepted forms of EMV – Chip & Pin. With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, you can rest assured that your card will be accepted at all vendors around the world that participate in the Mastercard network.

You’ll be earning 2.1% rewards rate on all purchases with the card. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® rewards come in the form of miles (the card actually offers 2 miles for every $1 you spend, but we value each mile at $0.0105). These miles can be redeemed as statement credit on your bill. When the statement credit is being applied towards travel expenses, you will gain a bonus 5% miles dividend.

This card is mostly useful to large spenders, who like to travel the globe. A large number of European countries have a predominantly Chip & Pin infrastructure. This means a pin card is required when making purchases at unmanned point of sale terminals. Even though the United States is opting for a chip & signature variant of the technology, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® will still be compatible with the systems at home.

Highlights

  • Great worldwide acceptance
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 2.1% rewards rate on ALL spending

The information related to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Best Chip and Pin Credit Card for Domestic Use: Wells Fargo Propel 365 American Express® Card

Wells Fargo Propel 365 American Express® Card
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The Wells Fargo Propel 365 American Express® Card is a solid choice for a number of reasons. It is one of our favorite credit cards for gas, offers decent returns on dining at restaurants, and gives loyalty bonuses to existing Wells Fargo customers. If you charge a lot of gas purchases to your credit card, this card will help ease the cost – you can essentially get a 3% rebate on your spending.

A seldom talked about benefit of Wells Fargo credit cards is the complimentary cell phone insurance. Provided you pay for your bill for that phone using a Wells Fargo credit card, your device will be covered for theft and damages. The insurance comes with a $25 deductible, and will cover claims up to $600.

Depending on the type of account you hold with Wells Fargo, you may receive 10%, 25%, or 50% more non-bonus rewards points. With this bonus, the card’s rewards rate on general purchases can jump up to 1.5%, which is on par with some of the best cash back credit cards.

Highlights

  • Excellent rewards on gas & dining purchases
  • Point bonuses to existing Wells Fargo accountholders
  • Phone insurance plan can save roughly $110 annually

Best Chip & Signature Credit Cards

Chip & Signature credit cards work similarly to the old magnetic strip cards everyone is used to. Whenever you make a purchase with one, you will be asked to sign a receipt or card reader. The only difference is, once businesses have card readers that support chip & signature, you will dip your credit card like you would an ATM card, instead of swiping the magnetic strip.

We evaluated chip & signature credit cards on the same use-case basis as chip & pin - their usefulness for travelers and domestic spenders. International travelers should keep in mind that a chip & signature credit card might not be as easy to use in certain countries as a chip & pin card would. Therefore, if you frequently travel abroad, be mindful of the type of EMV infrastructure the countries you visit have.

Best Chip and Signature Credit Card for Travelers: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website
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Most consumers with large travel and dining expenses will be able to get the most value out of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Provided you stick to countries where chip & signature is the standard (like the United States, Germany, Italy, and more), the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card serves as a great addition to one’s wallet. A good benchmark for whether this card is the right choice for you would be meeting these two qualifications: you travel to a country where chip & signature is accepted, and you spend at least $3,800 annually on travel and dining. The latter requirement will make sure you are at least breaking even on the card’s annual fee.

Another great benefit of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is its primary auto rental insurance benefit. Provided you pay for your auto rental using the card, decline the insurance offered by the rental agency, and meet all other requirements listed here, you can save on paying for coverage each time you rent a vehicle. This can potentially save you up to $19 per day, when travelling.

Any discussion of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card needs mention of its hefty welcome bonus. Cardmembers can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards through the sign up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Highlights

  • Ability to transfer rewards to a number of different partner programs
  • Above average rental car insurance protection

Best Chip and Signature Credit Card for Domestic Use: Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

  • On Citibank's Secure Website
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The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is one of our top recommendations when it comes to fixed-rate cash back credit cards. The card has fantastic earning potential on all purchases, across all categories. The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer lets you Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has a 3% foreign transaction fee, which is the reason its usefulness is limited to domestic spending. If you were to use it abroad, the rewards you'd get from it wouldn't make up for the deficit of the FX fee - you'd essentially be losing a 1% value with each purchase.

One of the only downsides to going with the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is its limited short-term earning potential. The card doesn’t come with any welcome or early spend bonus, like its competitors like the Chase Freedom® or Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. This deficit can be overcome in the long-run, especially for individuals with a diversified budget.

Highlights

  • Some of the best cash back rewards in the industry
  • High rewards across a broad spectrum of spending habits
  • $0 annual fee

Best EMV Credit Cards for People With Bad Credit

Just because you have bad credit, doesn't mean you can't have access to the EMV credit cards. Some of our favorite secured credit cards come equipped with a smartchip.

Best Chip and Signature Credit Card for Rebuilding Credit: Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
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The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is one of top recommendations for credit cards for bad credit, and is equipped with chip & signature EMV technology. Unlike a majority of secured credit cards, this one come with $0 annual fee. We appreciate this feature, as it helps alleviate the burden for consumers who may be in a rough financial situation, yet need credit. If you find yourself in this type of situation, the card itself should not become another expense.

This card also offers users a generous credit limit, given a limited minimum deposit. Consumers need to deposit just $49, $99, or $200 (access to an authorized bank account is also required) in order to receive a $200 limit. You may deposit more than your minimum required security deposit before your account opens to receive a higher initial credit line, up to your maximum approved line of $3,000.

A downside of the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is its high APR – 26.99% (Variable). While high interest rates is something individuals with low credit scores may be used to, other available options offer substantially lower rates. If you frequently find yourself carrying a balance, we recommend going with another card.

Highlights

  • High potential credit limits
  • $0 annual fee
  • Credit tracking tools

Brief Overview of EMV Credit Cards

According to data released by EMVco, as of Q4 2014, there are 101 million EMV cards in circulation within the United States - that's a 7.3% adoption rate.

Only about 39% of businesses in the U.S. are currently equipped to handle EMV payments, based on a survey by Wells Fargo. This explains why just 0.12% of all card transactions in the U.S. utilize this technology. You should be able to use your EMV credit cards in major chains - Macy's, Walmart, Target, etc. These businesses have long since made the switch to EMV due to security concerns. As the October 2015 liability deadline approaches, consumers will find more stores being equipped to handle payments using smartchips.

Chip & Pin vs Chip & Signature

When it comes to choosing between pin or signature variations of chip technology, the two main considerations one should make are security and acceptance. Chip & pin credit cards offer the best security against fraud than any other card-present technology in use because they represent a second barrier to would-be fraudsters. Stealing credit card numbers previously entailed just creating a physical copy of your credit card; now thieves must also obtain your PIN code in order to use the card. This extra step is not trivial, and can often mean the difference between a person becoming a victim of fraud or not. Individuals who strongly value security and protection should seek out chip & pin credit cards. Unfortunately for those consumers who fit into this category, a majority of the cards issued in the United States will be of the chip & signature variety - limiting the choices one has when looking for chip & pin cards.

Chip & pin credit cards will be generally accepted by all vendors that accept cards as form of payment. Chip & signature cards, on the other hand, will not be compatible at unmanned point of sale terminals, in countries with a predominant chip & pin infrastructure (train ticketing machines, gas stations, etc.). If this point drives your decision behind choosing one variant of the chip technology over the other, you should verify whether the countries you visit most often require one type of card. For consumers who do not travel outside of the United States, the choice between chip & pin and chip & signature has far less weight behind it.

This map shows which countries fall into the two camps of chip and pin or chip and signature credit card technology

The above map is meant to serve as a guide to visualize the wide disparity between countries in the type of EMV technology they employ. Since this data is set to change, and a country can transition to a new card variant, we recommend doing a little bit more research before travelling anywhere.

Comparison Tool

One of the points we continually stress is how highly personalized the choice of a credit card is - your individual spending profile will determine the level of your rewards. Our tool below allows you to input your estimated monthly spending, across a broad number of categories. We will then calculate your effective rewards rate for each card (over a 2-year span).

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Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).