American credit card users are cavemen in a chip-and-PIN world


Everyone but us, it seems, is using them. They're "chip-and-PIN" cards, credit cards embedded with a smart chip that won't work for purchases unless the owner also punches in their private security code number, or PIN. Designed to thwart fraud, they're just one more example of something Europe is doing that makes us look like relative cavemen.

And as our two methods of credit purchasing diverge, if you want to buy something outside of America, your primitive credit card can cause you trouble. As more countries switch to chip-and-PIN exclusively, Americans' more basic, swipe-only cards end up penalizing and inconveniencing us. Travel writer Ed Perkins reports that lots of travelers report headaches using their credit cards abroad, especially in Europe.