It seems Australians traveling in the UK are having trouble spending money on their credit cards. It’s not because they are all being frugal and paying cash!
The problem is credit cards containing microchips with a PIN rather than a signature for authorisations have become the norm. Credit cards with magnetic strips are used here in Australia for the most part, and you don’t need a PIN, just a signature.
The UK moved to the chip and PIN security system in early 2006 in a bid to clamp down on its growing credit card fraud problem.
Some shops even have signs proclaiming "No chip, no PIN, no sale''. I do love a good catch phrase like that don’t you? It’s like going to a pub with a "no shirt, no shoes, no service” sign, you just know it’s going to be a classy joint. :-)
The problem is also affecting travellers from the US, where chipped cards are yet to replace magnetic strips. Seems you don’t even need a signature in the US in many cases, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.
As for the ‘Big 4’ banks in Australia, this is where they’re at with chips in cards:
- ANZ has more than 1.7 million chips cards in the market, and were the first to introduce products in Australian around 2001
- Commonwealth Bank is introducing chips on all replacement and new cards.
- The NAB is yet to announce when they’ll introduce chips
- Westpac has announced the introduction of chipped cards on their products
The Australian market has been slow to switch to chips due to levels of fraud, relative to other markets. It’s reassuring to know we’re not quite as dodgy as some other places, especially since we're the ones who were supposed to be the 'convicts'!
It’s worth checking your cards before you travel to ensure you’re not caught out, and to make sure you have a PIN for your credit card when travelling. That said, any shop displaying the Visa or MasterCard signage is supposed to take your card regardless, but it’s one less drama to have to deal with if your card is chipped.
I wonder if this also applies to Visa debit cards?