By now, I’m sure you have a credit card with a chip, or EMV chip to be specific, in your possession. It’s that thing on your card that makes the person at the checkout tell you, “You need to use your chip in the bottom thingie,” or makes them say when you try to insert your chip card, “We don’t use that chip thing yet, so you need to swipe your card.”
In the U.S.A., we like the think we lead the world in just about everything, but when it comes to credit card security we are decades behind the curve. EMV ( Europay, Mastercard and Visa) chip technology was introduced back in the 1990s and rolled out throughout Europe in the 2000s. The chip in the card is used to confirm the information instead of reading the information off the magnetic strip on the back. This technology is harder to counterfeit and, supposedly, cuts down on fraud. The banks in Europe rolled out this technology first because credit card fraud was, at the time, much more common there. When the chip cards were introduced and helped prevent fraud, the criminals went to the least protected market, the USA, so they could continue with the scamming. Lucky us.
Going on an international trip is very exciting but it can also be very expensive. Using a credit card to pay for purchases when traveling internationally is often the best way to get a good exchange rate and the rate your bank gets will be better than the one you’ll get on your own if you exchange cash. Using a card also means that you don’t have to carry around a bunch of cash with you. However, many cards will add on a “foreign transaction fee” to any transactions made with anything except your home currency. Here’s an easy way to keep from paying that extra 2-3 percent on all of your purchases while away.
The use of contactless payments (or NFC Technology) in the United States is still in its infancy. Most people are familiar with this form of payment from using Apple Pay or Android Pay. We’re still at the point where people pull out their phone or use a watch to pay at the checkout and still have a look of amazement about this magical ability to pay with just a device.
What if I told you that it’s not necessary to fumble around with your phone or supinate your wrist to tap a watch to a reader in order to use contactless payments?
Back in the day, I had a list of things I needed to do before going on a trip. Among other things, I had to print out the itinerary, pack the travel books and call the banks to let them know I was going to be using my cards in places I usually didn’t. This was especially important if I was traveling outside of the U.S. because the last thing I wanted to do when I was in a foreign country was to pay for a phone call to the bank to unfreeze my account.
Times have changed. I don’t bring a stack of travel books with me on vacation and my entire list of plans for the trip are stored on my iPhone. But do I still need to let the bank know I’ll be traveling? There’s a good chance I already booked the tickets using their card so knowing I’ll be visiting an area should already be in their computer system, right? Not exactly. Here’s what the banks say about informing them of your travels (and Spoiler Alert!: Most of them still want you to alert them about your travels)…
London is one of our favorite (or favourite) cities in the world to visit. It’s charming yet bustling. Grand and imperial, but still warm and comforting. We’ve visited London more than any other city outside of the U.S, and look for any reason we can find to go back.
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