6 Pieces of Credit Card Tech That Will Blow Your Mind
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Credit cards are ubiquitous nowadays, but have you ever wondered what is going on inside those cards, or the machines that are in "charge" of making sure the purchases you make are credited to your account? We thought it might be an interesting series to explore the hidden technology that might impress you that's hiding in your wallet!
1. Chip + PIN Technology
This bit of technology is ubiquitous in Europe and South America, and until recently, nearly nonexistent in the United States. But, those of you that have recently applied for and received a credit card may have in your possession a credit card with a gold square in the middle of the card. This is called an EMV chip, and it makes it nearly impossible for thieves to steal your credit card and use it for purchases. To use it, a PIN is required, like a debit card. Manufacturing a fake credit card in your name is nearly impossible, according to Andi Coleman, who is part of the committee that regulates standards for credit cards in the United States. (See also: Will New Chip and Pin Technology Stop Identity Theft?)
This "all-in-one" credit card made quite a splash in 2013 with its flashy release of a card that can store all your credit cards in one piece of plastic, making some readers of this site very happy I am sure! You can take a look at this TechCrunch article to see it in action, but we may be looking at the future of card technology (or at least until they are deemed useless by future tech).
3. "Tap and Go"
One piece of technology that I find cool in some credit cards is the "tap and go" feature. This works just as it sounds — simply tap your credit card on the reader at the register, and go on your merry way. It speeds up transactions, which is good for merchants like Starbucks with long lines. There is a computer chip and antenna embedded in each card, which adds to costs but is in the best interests of the merchant (who saves time) and the credit card company (which makes it easier for consumers to use their card, increasing usage).
Those that are worried about their individual data being stolen by hackers can be relieved that "tokenization" is catching on. Basically, your data is encrypted into a "token" that is essentially worthless if stolen en route from your card to the merchant. The merchant can then convert back the token into something that it can read, and ultimately charge you for. (See also: How to Avoid Credit Card Fraud)
Ondot, marketed as the remote control for your credit card, gives you control over when and where your cards can be used. Location based controls can be tied to zip code, so a thief won't get far, or a card can be synced to a smartphone GPS, which means if it wanders far from your phone, it won't work. Other features include the ability to block certain stores or types of stores. It's an unprecedented level of control for those who want to manage their own — or their children's or their employees' — credit card spending. (See also: Best Secured Credit Cards)
The smartphonification of America continues apace, with several companies finding ways to put your cards into a "wallet" on your phone, which you then use to make payments. Loop stores your credit card data on your smartphone, and includes a special protector that wraps around your phone to communicate with payment machines. (They also offer a key fob that does the same.) Place your phone or key fob against the credit card reader, select a card on your iPhone or compatible Android phone, press the Loop button, and the transaction is complete.
So, what do you think? Are you eyeing some of this new technology as a feature for your next credit card? Chip and PIN technology will be ubiquitous within the next two to three years here in the United States, but you'll want to secure a card with this feature if you plan on traveling abroad anytime soon. If not, you'll be stuck using your debit card or cash.
Do you think any of these credit card advancements help you manage your spending more carefully? Or do you think they will make it too easy to charge another purchase? Please share in comments!
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank, card issuer, airline or hotel chain.