Americans Taking EMV Shift in Stride

Despite news coverage and social media frustration focusing on perceived shortcomings of credit cards with EMV chip technology, nearly 4 in 5 Americans view chip cards positively, a new NerdWallet survey shows. And more people say they prefer to use chip cards than traditional magnetic-stripe cards when making purchases in stores. Even so, a year after new rules took effect to push issuers and merchants to adopt EMV, the survey confirms that the transition hasn’t been entirely smooth

More than three-quarters of Americans have used the chip feature in an EMV card, NerdWallet survey data show. But according to Visa, only about 32 percent of US merchants were EMV-ready as as of August 2016. However, Visa also said 84% of non-chip-ready merchants are planning to upgrade.

The NerdWallet survey also found:
• Nearly 4 in 5 Americans (78%) say they have positive feelings about EMV chip credit cards, and 43% say it’s the form of payment they prefer to use most when making a purchase in a store.
• Almost 3 in 5 Americans (59%) think EMV transactions take 15 seconds or less, while only 19% think they take more than 30 seconds.
• About half of Americans (47%) say consumers benefit from EMV chip cards.
• About 78 percent of Americans said they have very positive or somewhat positive feelings about EMV chip cards. It’s also the most preferred in-person payment method: In the survey, 43% said they prefer to use chip cards when making purchases at a physical retail location. And 29% prefer traditional magstripe cards.

The survey also showed that consumers aren't sure when to use EMV chips:

• 39% of Americans who have an EMV card say they usually dip their card whenever they see a chip reader. But if the chip reader isn’t activated yet, these people will be told to try again — this time by swiping.
• 13% said they usually swipe the magstripe when they get to a terminal, whether they see a chip reader or not. In this case, if the chip reader is active, they’re told to dip the card instead.
• Also, millennials — those ages 18 to 34 — are the only generation that had more people preferring magstripe cards (36%) than EMV cards (31%) when making a purchase in a store. Generation X (ages 35-54) and baby boomers (those 55 and over) were more likely to prefer EMV. And although a majority of millennials (69%) have positive feelings about EMV, theirs was the lowest approval percentage of any generation.

And instead of assuming the chip reader is working, millennials with a chip card are more likely than baby boomers to swipe first (19% vs. 8%) and more likely than Xers to ask the cashier how to pay (25% vs. 16%). And when asked to do the opposite — to dip after they’ve swiped, or swipe after they’ve dipped — millennials were more likely to be annoyed (51%, vs. 39% of Xers and 32% of boomers) or embarrassed (29%, vs. 14% of Xers and 9% of boomers).

Overall, though the survey noted that almost half of Americans (47%) said consumers benefit from EMV chip cards.

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