Penn Community Bank Visa® Chip Debit Card FAQs

Your Penn Community Bank Visa® Chip Debit Card is equipped with the strongest fraud prevention available today – EMV chip technology.

The front of your card carries a small, metallic square; that is a computer chip, and it offers more protection than the previous generation of cards. Chip card technology is being implemented nationwide by card issuers and merchants in order to meet mandates regarding fraud prevention. As with many new processes, everyone involved – from the customer, to the card issuer, to the merchant, to the individual cashier helping you with your transaction – is learning how the system works.

Because there are many variables involved and the technology is still new, you may encounter situations where your chip debit card may not work. Many of these issues are expected to resolve themselves as merchants, employees and consumers become more familiar with the process and with the technology.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about chip cards and their usage:

About Chip Cards

What is an EMV chip? EMV chip cards add a computer chip in addition to the magnetic strip. This chip creates a unique transaction ID number for every purchase made with the physical card.

How is that safer? The unique transaction ID number means that even if a data thief is able to access account information from a magnetic strip, any attempted purchase with the stolen card data will be denied, because the stolen data will include the previously used transaction ID and the transaction ID can be used only one time.

How is that different than previous cards? Traditional debit and credit cards rely solely on a magnetic strip, which stores your account information. That information never changes – which makes it very easy for data thieves to steal and use again for fraudulent purchases.

What does EMV mean? It stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the payment networks that developed the new EMV chip security standard.

Can I use my chip card when I travel overseas? In many cases, your chip card will be accepted in more places than a traditional magnetic-stripe card would. The United States is the last major market still using the magnetic-stripe card system. EMV technology was implemented in many European countries years ago, in order to combat high fraud rates. If you will be traveling internationally, please contact us at 215-788-1234 so we can inform Visa that you will be out of the country.

Why are these cards coming into use now? The major U.S. card issuers, MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express, created a deadline of Oct. 1, 2015, for U.S. merchants to have stronger fraud-prevention measures in place. Going forward, liability for card-present fraud will be borne by the merchant if the merchant has not implemented appropriately compliant measures.

Using Chip Debit Cards

Where can I use my chip debit card? Chip-enabled merchant terminals already are in use in many area stores and ATM locations. More terminals and ATMs are being installed at locations across the country, and will become widespread in the coming months.

How do I use my chip debit card? Chip-enabled terminals have a slot, typically at the bottom, where the chip card is inserted face up and held throughout the transaction. You will be prompted to either enter a PIN number or provide a signature to verify the transaction.

Do transactions take longer? The chip card is held in the terminal for several seconds, while the data from the chip is transmitted from the merchant’s terminal to the payment network. In addition, some merchants may ask you to remove and insert the chip card two or three times.

What should I do if I’m not able to select ‘debit’ or ‘credit’ to verify my transaction? Can I still get cash back during a transaction? Chip cards default to a credit transaction; overriding this requires action on the part of a merchant’s cashier. If the merchant does not give customers the option of entering a PIN (debit), the sale will be processed as a credit transaction and the customer may not request cash back. These situations may become less common as merchants and their employees become more experienced with chip technology.

Can I request cash back when using my chip card at a self-serve checkout? Chip cards default to a credit transaction; overriding this requires action on the part of a merchant’s cashier. Many self-service checkouts, therefore, are not offering customers the ability to process the transaction as debit and request cash back.

Are there situations where my chip debit card may not work when inserted into the chip terminal? Does this mean my chip card doesn't work? We have heard reports from customers whose chip debit cards would not work. That does not necessarily indicate a problem with the chip or card itself. Here are two common scenarios that have been reported:

  • A chip terminal has been installed at the merchant’s checkout but the chip reader itself has not yet been turned on. Some merchants are not yet allowing chip cards to be inserted. This will occur frequently in the short-term while terminals are becoming chip-enabled.
  • The chip terminal reader is turned on but for chip credit cards only, not debit cards. Some merchants are allowing only chip credit cards to be processed at this time. Most plan to allow chip debit cards at a later date.

In either case, if you insert your chip debit card and nothing happens, please swipe your card to complete your transaction. You may always choose to swipe your card first, and if the merchant accepts chip debit cards, you’ll be instructed to insert your card into the terminal.

What happens if a merchant does not have a chip-enabled terminal? If a merchant does not offer a chip-enabled card reader, your debit card still can be read with a swipe, just like a traditional magnetic-stripe card. That transaction, however, would not have the additional layer of security offered by use of the chip.

How do chip debit cards work for online purchases? Transactions made online, by phone, or in any other case where the card is not physically present are made the same way they are now. Nothing changes.

How is a debit chip card transaction processed? Debit chip cards allow for transactions to be processed either as a “credit” transaction or a “debit” transaction, even though the card itself is a debit card. In many cases, the transaction will default to “credit” and require a signature, instead of a PIN.

We want to hear from you! Please call our Customer Care Center at 215-788-1234 to report your experiences in using your chip debit card at local merchants.