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Best option for chip and PIN Mastercard

So, I have a Chase Visa card, with a chip, but no PIN -- signature only. It is pretty good, offers points, works most places, and their customer service is awesome.

But I'd like a Mastercard as a backup for European and South American travel, and it would be useful if it at least offered the option of using a PIN. These cards are still hard to come by for American customers. Citibank seems to offer them, but I just called them, and got the run-around for 30 minutes before being told they weren't available as personal cards, and they only had chip and signature.

So now I am considering the Barclay's one. I have heard of people having difficulties with Barclay's... would love to hear back from others as to what they use, and how it works out in real-life situations. Obviously a no-fee card would be great, but that may not be possible.

I'm only interested in a Mastercard-branded one.

Posted by
5594 posts

"I have a Chase Visa card, with a chip, but no PIN"

As someone with a Chase Visa card (AARP) and a Chase Mastercard (United Airlines), I have to ask you "why" you have no PIN? Have you inquired (at the 800 number) about being issued one? Were you offered one in the original mailing, but overlooked it because there were so many inserts in the envelope? Or do you mean, "Whenever I use this card in the U.S., I get asked for a signature"? Have you read past posts here about how there is a priority order for the verification method used with any given card?

I just received my replacement (un-requested) AARP Visa card (from Chase) with a chip in the mail. It gives a phone number for selecting a PIN.

I'm inclined to separate your desire for a Mastercard from your desire for a PIN. You should be working with whatever aspect of credit card (APR interest rate, rewards, your credit rating, predominant places of use for your personal needs, Foreign Transaction charge (1%, 2%, 3%), etc.) rather than flagship name. (It has always appeared to me that "Chase" issues both Visa and Mastercard, both in large quantities.)

Posted by
101 posts

To answer the first part, it is a Chase Sapphire Card. Every time I call customer service, they insist it is chip and signature only. I have checked numerous times with them.

For a second card, I don't care about reward points. I would only use it when the Chase Visa doesn't work, either because it is one of those rare circumstances where they only accept MasterCard, or I really do need to use a pin. I want both features.

Sadly, I have a great chip and pin MasterCard, but it is issued by my workplace. Last time I was in Europe for business, it was very useful. That is from Citibank.

Posted by
371 posts

American banks offer what is called a chip and signature card. For some reason they think we are not as capable as foreigners and will forget the pin and get upset and befuddled over having to use a pin.

My chip and signature card also has a pin that supposedly would work with automated machines where there is no signature option. But, my experience last year was that my card (Barclays) did not work with the automated machines that required a pin. Not once was I able to purchase a bus ticket or train ticket from a machine using the card. I simply carried lots of cash and found a machine that accepted cash as well as cards. Or I waited in a long line for a human teller.

Posted by
552 posts

I'll second that observation by pdb.

Having a chip/pin card issued from the U.S. still means the automated petrol dispensers will not accept your foreign card and you'll have to find a gas station with a live attendant to swipe your card personally.

Posted by
220 posts

The folks on the phone are sort of right.

With your Sapphire card the PIN would only be used if you were putting the card into an ATM to get cash out (no dont do it it's expensive but if there is an emergency it's worth the cost) or if you are using it to buy train tickets etc at a kiosk at least that was the case for me in Italy.

Having a PIN won't change the coding on the card to require a PIN to make a purchase.

Posted by
16941 posts

Too bad you're hung up on MasterCard. Andrews Federal Credit Union has a very good Visa Chip & PIN.

Posted by
2916 posts

I'll second Andrews. While its first priority authentication is signature, you can use it in automated machines where a PIN is needed. I've used it many times at unattended gas stations and train station machines.

Posted by
101 posts

Thank you.

This has been a helpful discussion. I appreciate the suggestions about the Andrews card. This may be useful for other readers to know, so I'm glad it was posted. However, I already have a Visa, so for me, it makes more sense to complement that with a MC, in my case.

I did call Chase customer service and learned a few useful things:

  1. I can get a PIN for my Chase Sapphire card, but its use would result in a hefty fee. According to the customer service rep I spoke with, using it at an unmanned kiosk, with a PIN, would result in the transaction being treated as a cash advance.

  2. The good news: They expect to convert the Sapphire card from "chip and signature" to "chip and PIN" by the end of 2015. (When I called to enquire last month, they did not tell me this, so this may be a new policy, or this customer representative was more informed than the last one.)

  3. The Chase United Explorer MasterCards are being migrated to Visa.