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Credit Cards

Credit Cards: Chip Technology

Chip cards have a metallic computer chip imbedded in the card which creates a unique transaction code for each purchase. Unlike a chip card, traditional cards have magnetic strips that store the same customer data which is used for every transaction. Whereas data stolen from a traditional card can be reused, chip card data cannot.

Request chip credit and debit cards from your bank before arrival for easier transactions on the economy. Currently, there are 2 types of chip cards:

  • Chip and Pin Cards (Europe): Insert card into machine (rather than swipe) and input pin code.
  • Chip and Signature (U.S.): These can be used just like a chip and pin card, but you must sign a receipt before the transaction is complete.

NOTE: Most retail establishments and hotels in Europe accept traditional magnetic credit cards. However, some stand-alone kiosks may accept only chip and pin cards (rather than chip and signature or traditional cards).

TIP: Some banks will allow you to set up a PIN on chip credit cards and can be used in European credit card readers.

Reduced Interest Rates

When deployed or on PCS Orders, Active Duty members may be eligible for reduced interest rates on credit cards. Contact your bank to ask about reduced rates. 

Foreign Transaction Fees

When deployed or with a copy of OCONUS PCS Orders, some banks will eliminate the foreign currency transaction fee on credit and/or debit cards (usually 1-2% of purchase price). Contact your bank to learn more.

USAA Bank

If you are PCSing overseas, USAA will eliminate foreign transactions fees on credit cards (but does not do so for debit cards unless member is deployed). Visit USAA for info. To request to eliminate this USAA fee:

  • Email or Fax a copy of PCS Orders along with the USAA Cover Sheet (go to "documents" section, "Banking", and then choose Form LNSSCRA entitled “SCRA and Military Benefits Cover Sheet").
  • Receive confirmation of approval.
  • Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) 

Also, see Bills, Banking & Exchange Rates or travel allowance.

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