Best EMV Chip Travel Credit Cards in the U.S.
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Hilary Stockton
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If you've ever had your non-EMV chip credit card declined at an automatic ticket machine, toll booth or restaurant when traveling internationally, you'll be happy to know that there finally are U.S. credit cards with the EMV chip, as well as the magnetic stripe so that you can use it with U.S. merchants. And since you probably want no foreign transaction fees (or at least low foreign transaction fees), we've taken that as well as the annual fee and travel rewards into account as well in our ranking of the best EMV chip travel credit cards in the U.S. Note that most of these cards are EMV chip and signature; only a few, such as the Andrews Federal Credit Union Visa, United Nations Federal Credit Union Visa Elite and Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® are EMV chip and PIN cards, where you would create a PIN and enter it whenever making an in-person purchase. 

1. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard just recently transitioned to be an EMV Chip + PIN card, which is especially useful for use in Europe, where chip and signature cards don't always work. Other card benefits include no foreign transaction fees, 2X miles for all purchases, and 10% refund of miles when redeemed for travel. That effectively makes this a 2.22% cash back card when redeeming for travel. See New Barclaycard Arrival Plus with Chip and PIN: Top 5 New Benefits.

 

2. The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard (Chip + PIN)

If you ever fly to Hawaii, The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard makes sense to get for its 35,000 Hawaiian Miles bonus after spending $1000 within the first 90 days, for its complimentary first checked bag for the primary cardholder, and for its one-time 50% off companion discount when you purchase a Hawaiian Airlines roundtrip coach ticket between the mainland U.S. and Hawaii.

It also is a Chip + PIN card that enables you to make Chip and PIN transactions at unattended terminals while abroad, which is handy whether you're trying to get through an unmanned French toll booth or purchase subway tickets somewhere in Europe.

Note that the card carries an $89 annual fee, which is not waived the first year.

 

3. Sapphire Preferred Visa (Chip + Signature)

The Sapphire Preferred Visa is one of the best all around travel rewards credit cards, giving 2X points on all travel spend. As a new card member, you earn an effective 45,000 signup bonus (40,000 signup bonus + 5000 bonus points if you add an authorized user). There are no foreign transaction fees, and Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to several airline and hotel partners, the most valuable of which are Singapore KrisFlyer, Korean Air, United MileagePlus, and Hyatt Gold Passport.


3. Hyatt Visa (Chip + Signature)

The Hyatt Visa is the first hotel loyalty credit card to be EMV chip enabled. And just as importantly, there's no  foreign transaction fee. We already recommend the Hyatt credit card for its great signup bonus: 2 free nights at any Hyatt property in the world, including Park Hyatts such as the Park Hyatt Maldives, Park Hyatt Paris Vendome and Park Hyatt Tokyo, after your first purchase (see Best Park Hyatt to Stay 2 Free Nights with the Hyatt Visa). While the $75 annual fee is not waived the first year, that's a small price to pay for two free nights that could be worth $2000. 

Ongoing benefits include Platinum status as long as you're a card member, which entitles you to complimentary Internet access, the best room for the category you booked, and 15% points bonus on stays. You'll also receive a free night a a category 1-4 hotel upon your card anniversary date.


4. British Airways Visa

The British Airways Visa issued to U.S. cardholders in 2011 and prior years didn't come with an EMV chip, but it now does come with an EMV chip and current cardholders are able to request an EMV chip enabled card simply by calling 800-577-0633 and requesting a replacement card. And, as with the Hyatt Visa, there's no foreign transaction fee.

Periodically a 100,000 bonus British Airways Avios (miles) is offered: 50,000 of them after first purchase, 25,000 after $10,000 in spend within first 12 months; and another 25,000 after additional $10,000 (total of $20,000) in spend within first 12 months. The spend requirements make going for the full 100,000 bonus most worthwhile if you plan to spend $30,000 to earn a Travel Together Companion Ticket, which you use in conjunction with an award ticket. You earn 1.25 Avios for each $1 you spend, and 2.5 Avios for each $1 of British Airways spend. So if you had $30K on non-BA spend, you'd earn enough for a roundtrip first class award from the East Coast to Europe, which you could use with the companion ticket to fly with your spouse or significant other. If flying from San Francisco or the West Coast, you could use 135,000 + 180 GBP and taxes/fees to both fly first class. For other award redemption ideas, see British Airways Avios-Best Deals. There's a $95 annual fee, not waived the first year.

 

5. AMEX Platinum Card

The AMEX Platinum has only been available with an EMV chip since late 2012, so if you're an existing cardmember your card may not have it. You can, however, request an EMV chip version to be sent to you, for both the regular AMEX Platinum and the Mercedes-Benz AMEX Platinum. And the great thing with AMEX is that they will expedite a new card to arrive next day or within 2 days, at no extra cost to you--perfect if you leave soon for foreign travel. See our Detailed Review of the American Express Platinum Card, Maximizing the AMEX Platinum Airline Fee Credit, and American Express Platinum Card Global Entry Benefit Tips.

 

6. JP Morgan Palladium

The JP Morgan Palladium Card, which is EMV chip enabled, also has no foreign transaction fee but does come with other key travel benefits, such as Palladium Concierge service, airport lounge access at United Club and Lounge Clubs worldwide, top tier "Black" status with GHA (Global Hotel Alliance) independent luxury hotels which gets you double upgrades, unique local experience, early check-in and late check-out at member hotels, plus similar perks at J.P. Morgan Palladium Card Hotel Collection, which includes Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton, Trump and other luxury hotel properties. Instead of offering 2x Ultimate Rewards points for all travel and dining, as the Sapphire Preferred does, it only offers 2x for travel spend, with an annual bonus of 35,000 points after spending $100,000 annually.

The annual fee? $595. But presumably that's not too painful if you have the high assets and Chase private banking, wealth management or investment banking relationship with Chase that are prerequisites for this invitation-only card.

 

7. Andrews Federal Credit Union Visa

This is a true EMV chip and PIN card, which carries no annual fee, and foreign exchange fee of 1%. While the credit card is intended for civilian and military personnel at Andrews Air Force Base, McGuire Air Force Base, and some other groups, you can join the American Consumer Council (free to join) to apply for the card. See further details here.

 

8. United MileagePlus Club Card

The United MileagePlus Club Card is not yet EMV chip enabled but will be, and existing cardmembers will be able to request a replacement EMV chip card. There are no foreign transaction fees, which is great, and other perks include:

  • Get close-in ticketing fee of $75 waived: this can be very useful for getting access to last minute award seats that open up, if you're not a United elite
  • Access to United and US Air airport lounges, even if not traveling on United
  • Access to Star Alliance airport lounges with a Star Alliance boarding pass ($475 value if you're not a United elite)
  • 1st and 2nd checked bag free on United, for 2 people (save up to $240 round trip per couple)
  • 1.5 United miles per $1 spent
  • Premier Access (priority check-in, security, boarding)
  • Complimentary Hyatt Platinum and Avis Presidents Club status

Unfortunately the annual fee of $395 is hefty, so be on the lookout for any offers that waive the annual fee.

While we certainly wish there were United bonus miles with this card, as there are for the United MileagePlus Explorer card, if you anticipate quite a bit of United flying over the next year and want an EMV chip card for international trips, this is a way of effectively getting an EMV chip card with no foreign transaction fees and with no annual fee for the first year, after secure messaging to get the fee waiver.

Note, though, that you'll earn more United miles if you can take advantage of bonus category spend with the Sapphire Preferred (2x per $1 spent on travel/dining, or rather, 2.14X when the 7% annual points dividend is taken into account), Ink Bold Business Card (5x per $1 spent at office supply stores) and the Chase Freedom (rotating 5x spend categories).

 

9. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa

This new Citi Hilton HHonors card is a Chip and Signature card. As with the Hyatt Visa, it comes with a signup bonus of 2 free nights good at all Hilton properties, but unlike Hyatt, the free nights are only valid for weekend nights. That means you won't be able to get 4 free nights in a row even if your partner applies for the card. It's also not as good a deal as Hyatt since you have to spend $2500 within the first 4 months to get those free weekend nights; with the Hyatt Visa you get them after first purchase. Annual fee (not waived) of $95 is also higher than Hyatt ($75). You have Hilton HHonors Gold (mid-tier) status as long as you have the card, and that benefit is slightly better than Hyatt's, since it includes free breakfast as well as free Internet. In order to get the free weekend anniversary night you need to spend $10,000 a year; with the Hyatt card, you just need to pay the annual fee. The card earns 10 HHonors points per dollar on Hilton spend, 5 points per dollar on airfare and car rental spend, and 3 points per dollar on everything else. Hilton does have a larger worldwide network than Hyatt, so the card could be worthwhile if you have a number of upcoming Hilton resort weekend stays that you'd otherwise pay for, but on the whole the Hyatt Visa is a better offer, and for virtually no spend requirement.

 

Other EMV Chip Credit Cards

There are certainly other EMV chip credit cards available in the U.S., but we didn't rank them as highly due to their higher foreign transaction fees, higher annual fee that can't be waived, and/or lack of travel rewards.

  • BMO Diners Club Card ($95 annual fee, 3% Foreign Transaction Fee)
  • Citibank Platinum Select MasterCard ($0 annual fee, 3% Foreign Transaction Fee)
  • Citibank Thank You MasterCard ($0 annual fee, 3% Foreign Transaction Fee)
  • Citibank Diamond Preferred MasterCard ($0 annual fee, 3% Foreign Transaction Fee)
  • Citibank Dividend MasterCard ($0 annual fee, 3% Foreign Transaction Fee)
  • Citibank AAdvantage Gold MasterCard World Elite Card ($50 annual fee, 3% Foreign Transaction Fee)
  • Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Visa Signature Card ($85 annual fee, 3% Foreign Transaction Fee)
  • Citibank AAdvantage Platinum MasterCard World Elite ($85 annual fee, 3% Foreign Transaction Fee)
  • Citibank AAdvantage Executive MasterCard World Elite ($450 annual fee, 0% Foreign Transaction Fee)
  • US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card ($49 annual fee, 3% Foreign Transaction Fee)
  • United Nations FCU Visa Elite with EMV Chip and PIN ($50 annual fee, 1% Foreign Transaction Fee, only available to United Nations employees and family members)
I certainly wish we'd had either our Hyatt Visa or a new EMV chip enabled British Airways Visa on hand when we stayed at the charming  Chamois D'Or near Mercantour, in France, at the unmanned automated toll booths in the south of France, and at the Paris metro stations. Next time we'll have our EMV chip card and will avoid those frustrations!
 
 
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Avatar_60_masha Masha G. commented 26 Jul 2012
I just saw that Bank of America has announced that it plans to offer EMV chips in its cards targeted at high net worth customers and frequent travelers, and as an option for its mass market cards. It's good to see that the Americans are finally catching up.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 26 Jul 2012
Interesting! Although I can't say there are currently any Bank of America cards I'm keen on, as an EMV chip needs to be part of a good overall package--only one I have is the Alaska Visa, in order to get one of the last companion vouchers valid for a first class companion ticket to Hawaii: http://travelsort.com/blog/alaska-airlines-visa-approved-first-class-companion-ticket-to-hawaii
Picture?type=large Melinda D. commented 08 Aug 2012
You might consider adding the new Citibank Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa Signature to this list.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 09 Aug 2012
@Melinda Thanks for the suggestion! Have added the new Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa to the list, as a Chip and Signature card.
Picture?type=large Rick F. commented 14 Nov 2012
Interesting. Hilary, don't you think that the Bank of America Travel Rewards Visa might be a great travel card. No FOREX or annual fee, and chip and signature. Plus, for all charges, you receive 1.5% for future travel related charges.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 14 Nov 2012
Rick, it all depends what you want. The Bank of America Travel Rewards Visa and the Capital One cards aren't interesting at all to me, because you're just getting 1 cent per point when you redeem. I generally redeem miles and points for international first and business class travel where I'm getting anywhere from 5 cents to 14 or more cents of nominal value per mile or point. The current signup bonus for the Bank of America card is also only 10,000 points, although it is a no fee card, so if that's really important it could be a good option. Of the EMV chip cards released in the U.S., I personally view the Hyatt card as the best value, since you can use the two free nights in any Park Hyatt and get $1500-$2000 in value for just the $75 annual fee. Hyatt also recently introduced new benefits, see http://travelsort.com/blog/hyatt-visa-card-new-bonuses-and-elite-status-benefits although abroad I'll still use the Sapphire Preferred if I don't need an EMV chip for an effective 2.14X points on all travel and dining.
Picture?type=large Randy O. commented 07 Jan 2013
I just found out that Star One Credit union (located in California) is now issuing Chip and Pin Visa (Gold). I had seen some other posts online saying they are issuing Chip and Signature - however, in talking to the customer service rep this afternoon - they said their cards are chip and pin. Unfortunately they are not nationwide - however, for folks living in their service area - this is terrific as their cards are free, they only pass through the 1% FOREX charge from Visa.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 07 Jan 2013
Randy, Thanks for adding; I do believe that the Star One Credit Union Visa is Chip and Signature, and that the rep you spoke with was probably just referring to the PIN you use for cash advances. But once you have it (or if any other TravelSort readers already have it and can confirm) please let us know. Thanks!
Picture?type=large John M. commented 08 May 2013
My Amex Platinum has a chip.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 08 May 2013
John, thanks for the reminder; I need to update to add this. Of AMEX cards, only the AMEX Platinum is available with an EMV chip.
Picture?type=large Rex S. commented 19 Jan 2014
The regular Amex gold is available with chip and signature, if you ask. A cheaper card (from $85 on up) when compared to $450 a year for the platinum. B of A has many chip and signature cards. PenFed credit union offers them too. I've had a UK banking relationship with a chip and pin card for many, many years, so I haven't been concerned with the issue.
Picture?type=large Janet N. commented 18 Jan 2014
Wells Fargo said they would send me a replacement chip and PIN card. Unfortunately, they charge 3% foreign transaction fees. Capital One, while having zero FTF, still refuses to issue me a chipped card. Navy Federal credit union said they hope to offer chip and PIN cards by the end of 2014.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 19 Jan 2014
Good to know Janet, thanks for sharing your experience. It does pretty much defeat the purpose of having an EMV chip and PIN card if the issuer charges a foreign transaction fee! U.S. issuers have been slow to introduce EMV cards, especially chip and PIN vs. chip and signature, due to the much higher cost to create these cards, and the fact that U.S. issuers aren't able to completely shift fraud liability to consumers (the way UK issuers have been able to) due to the Electronic Fund Transfer Act of 1978.
Picture?type=large Rex S. commented 19 Jan 2014
Wells Fargo will now issue you a true chip and pin card if you ask for a replacement of your regular Visa platinum card with one with a chip. With the Target breach, it may get the banks and merchants in line to move fully to chip and pin, but this will take years.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 19 Jan 2014
Interesting, thanks for sharing this about Wells Fargo. Agree it will take years due to the expense and lack of incentives I mentioned in my comment above. Merchants in particular won't want to pay for new card readers.
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