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The top chip-and-PIN credit cards of 2020

April 07, 2020
8 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit card information.

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 require a personal identification number.

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Most cards issued in the U.S. 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.

In this story, TPG will go over 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.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

This card stands out because it offers a generous 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on airfare purchased directly with the airlines or through the Amex Travel portal (starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). Plus 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. You can transfer your points to 19 airline and three hotel partners, plus enjoy a plethora of perks including trip insurance, access to multiple airport lounges, shopping protections, Hilton and Marriott Gold elite status, access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) program and more.

Welcome bonus: 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Earning rate: 5x points on airfare and prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.; 1x points on everything else.

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees)

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Read our review of the Amex Platinum card.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Everyday is best suited for beginners in the rewards credit card game. You’re earning cash back on a limited number of categories in exchange for no annual fee (see rates and fees), with no ancillary perks to accompany the card. If you aren’t spending more than a couple hundred dollars on a credit card per month, this card might make sense for you. While not considered a student credit card, it could help students and young professionals who already have credit history continue to build their credit profile while earning modest rewards.

Welcome bonus: Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months of card membership.

Earning rate: 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. online retail purchases on up to $6,000 per calendar year in purchases for each category (then 1%), and 1% cash back on other purchases.

Annual fee: $0

Read our review of the Blue Cash Everyday card.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® 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® 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.

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

Read our review of the Bank of America Premium Rewards card.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

The card has chip-and-PIN capability, although the main verification method is by signature. You can call customer support to check or reset your PIN.

Welcome bonus: N/A

Earning rate: 3x points on travel, dining, gas stations and streaming services; 1x points back on everything else.

Annual fee: $0

The Wells Fargo Propel card is no longer available for new applicants. The information for this card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Read our review of the Wells Fargo Propel card.

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 and pay the card's annual fee.

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

Annual fee: $99

Read our review of the JetBlue Plus Card.

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

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

Read our review of the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard.

Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard®

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

This card, best for those who fly Hawaii's official airline regularly, is also a Barclays card and has the same PIN feature as the issuer's other cards.

Welcome bonus: 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Earning rate: 3x miles on Hawaiian Airlines purchases, 2x miles on gas, dining and grocery store purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $99

Read our review of the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard®.

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 can use your phone for authentication so you shouldn't be asked for a PIN.

Related reading:

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday Card, please click here.

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.

Updated on 5/3/21.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023