The Top Chip and PIN Credit Cards of 2019

Apr 22, 2019

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There are two types of credit cards in the market today: chip-and-signature cards and chip-and-PIN cards. Plain and simple, chip-and-signature cards use signatures for authentication, while chip-and-PIN cards instead require a PIN.

Most cards issued in the US are chip and signature, but for the rest of the world, chip and PIN is the norm. So it’s not uncommon to come across payment terminals that only accept PIN cards when traveling internationally. For instance, most unmanned kiosks in Europe, such as ticket machines and gas pumps, are PIN only. To avoid being in a situation where you don’t have a usable credit card while abroad, it’s a good idea to travel with a card that offers both authentication methods.

Today, I’ll cover the top cards that offer chip and PIN capability. Each of the cards on this list still default to signature as the authentication method, but will automatically switch to PIN for systems that don’t accept signatures. Furthermore, none of the cards included have any foreign transaction fees. Note that although many cards come with a PIN, they are typically only for cash advances at ATMs.

1. Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ Visa®️ credit card

Similar to Barclays, all Bank of America credit cards have PIN capability. However, you must manually request a PIN through your online account or by calling the number on the back of your card. You’ll get the most value from the Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ Visa®️ credit card if you’re a part of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, as customers get a 25%-75% rewards bonus on every purchase.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus points (worth $500) after you make $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days

Earning rate: 2x points on travel and dining purchases and 1.5x points on all other purchases

Annual fee: $95

2. JetBlue Plus Card

This card is issued by Barclays, so the PIN feature works the same way as on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. While abroad, you can earn bonus points on restaurant and grocery store spending.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 40,000 points (worth $520) after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days

Earning rate: 6x points on JetBlue purchases, 2x points at restaurants and grocery stores and 1x on all other purchases

Annual fee: $99

3. AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

It probably goes without saying that the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard card is best suited for American Airlines flyers. It’s also issued by Barclays, so the PIN feature works the same as the issuer’s other cards.

Welcome bonus: 60,000 miles (worth $840) after you make a purchase in the first 90 days

Earning rate: 2x miles on American Airlines purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases

Annual fee: $95

Bonus: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Although the Chase Sapphire Reserve does not officially offer chip-and-PIN capability, based on our experiences it will allow you to enter a random four-digit PIN in some credit card terminals. The card stands out because of how broadly it defines travel and dining categories, including expenses like public transit fares and parking fees. It’s also the only one on this list that earns transferrable points.

(Photo by Danielle Vito/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Danielle Vito / The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: 50,000 points (worth $1,000) after you spend $4,000 in the first three months

Earning rate: 3x points on all travel (excluding the $300 travel credit) and dining purchases and 1x points on everything else

Annual fee: $550

Bottom Line

Chip-and-PIN capability doesn’t get much attention, but it’s an important feature to have when traveling abroad. Barclays and Bank of America currently lead the way in offering PIN capability, but hopefully more issuers will follow suit.

If you’re stuck abroad without a chip-and-PIN card, try using a mobile payment app like Apple Pay or Google Pay. This shouldn’t be seen as a complete workaround, since not all credit card terminals accept contactless payments, but the ones that do use your phone for authentication so you shouldn’t be asked for a PIN.

Featured image by mikroman6 / Getty Images.

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