The holiday shopping season is already upon us. But there’s one small thing that may throw a monkey wrench into your carefully plotted Black Friday plans: the chip debit or credit cards that are on now in many consumers’ wallets.
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Europay, MasterCard and Visa — aka EMV — chip cards are meant to provide better security in terms of skimming and counterfeiting cards, but not all merchants have upgraded to terminals that accept the chips. And many who have may not be able to train staff on how they are used, so they, in turn, won’t be able to readily show customers who want to use their new technology how to do so. Plus, dipping a chip takes a bit longer than swiping a magnetic stripe, so there’s reason to believe there will be longer lines at store registers come Nov. 27. (Walmart payments executive John Drechny even predicted “anarchy” in stores this year, given the deadline for transitioning to EMV technology among banks and merchants was so close to the holiday shopping season.)
But don’t despair — there are a few things you can do to ensure your holiday shopping stays on track.
3 ways to keep your chip card from killing your Black Friday flow
1. Learn to use your chip card before you go
You can do your part to keep lines moving by familiarizing yourself with how the new technology works before you head out to your favorite retailers on Black Friday or even Thanksgiving. Basically, you dip the chip into a slot on the bottom of a reader instead of swiping the magnetic stripe on the side. Once you familiarize yourself with how the chip works, you can take your card out for a test run. If you have the mechanics down, you’ll at least be able to check out without too much of a hassle — and maybe inadvertently educate a few folks in line behind you on how to use their chips as well.
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2. Shop online
The chips don’t change how you pay for items online, so you may be able to skip a few long lines by doing some of your shopping on your computer or smartphone ahead of Black Friday or on Cyber Monday, when online retailers tout some of their best deals. Of course, given the chips don’t provide added security when you shop this way, you may want to utilize some online shopping best practices:
- Stick to trusted retailers
- Refrain from clicking on links in suspicious emails (they could be a phishing scam!)
- Only enter payment information on encrypted websites (typically identified by a ““https” in the web browser)
Also, you should generally monitor credit card and debit card statements for signs of fraud no matter what method of payment you use. You can also check your credit if you have any reason to believe your personal information was compromised and deeper identity theft could be occurring. (You can pull your free annual credit reports on AnnualCreditReport.com and see your credit scores for free each month on credit.com.)
3. Shop in stores on a different day
You may not need to shop on Black Friday to score the best deals now. In fact, in many instances, it may pay to wait when it comes to buying certain merchandise. (Many stores discount excess inventory as you get closer and closer to Christmas.)
And many retailers have started rolling out their Black Friday prices now in efforts to get a bigger chunk of holiday shopping business. You may want to make a list now of the presents you know you are going to buy and do some research online to find out what a good deal on them is, instead of waiting on potentially long lines this year.