Do Credit Cards Have PINs? | How Using a PIN Keeps You Secure

Unlike debit cards, it is uncommon for credit cards in the U.S. to come with PINs as they are often not required for transactions.

Scanning a credit card at a payment terminal

If you have a debit card, you have probably used a PIN (Personal Identification Number) before to complete a purchase or withdraw money from an ATM. You may wonder do credit cards have PINs as well?

While less common, some credit cards now require you to enter a PIN when setting up the card or accessing certain features.

The rise in digital banking and the increasing complexity of modern financial products have led to more security measures being put in place by card issuers — which is great news for anyone concerned about their personal information. We’ll explore all things about credit card PINs, how they work, and when you would need to use them.

Key Takeaways

  • A PIN is a four-digit code used to confirm a debit or credit cardholder’s identity when making a purchase.
  • While PINs are typically required for debit card transactions, there are situations where using a credit card requires a PIN.
  • If you do not have a credit card PIN, you can contact your lender to request one.

What is a Credit Card PIN?

A PIN, or personal identification number, is a four-digit number assigned to a debit or credit card that only the account holder should know. When you authorize certain transactions, you must enter the code alongside your credit or debit card details to confirm that you are the card owner and to ensure the transaction’s integrity.

When a card issuer wants you to use a PIN, they are increasing the security of your transaction by incorporating an additional layer of protection. If your card has a PIN, that means even if someone steals your credit card and uses it to make a purchase, the payment might not go through unless the thief knows your PIN.

Another security measure to take is to avoid using important dates, such as your birthday or anniversary, as well as your street address or any other easily identifiable numbers. You should also create different personal identification numbers for your accounts instead of using the same one for all of them. That way, if one of your accounts gets compromised, it’ll be much harder for identity thieves to figure out your other account information.

Credit vs. Debit Card PIN

There is not much difference between a credit card and a debit card PIN. Both are four-digit codes used to verify a transaction. However, debit card PINs are more commonly used in the U.S. for purchases while many countries in the E.U. require PINs for credit cards.

How Do Chip and PIN Cards Work?

Chip and PIN cards were initially developed to reduce the likelihood of credit card theft and data breaches. Credit card companies and card networks like Visa, Mastercard, and American Express all began supporting chip-and-PIN transactions to better protect our consumer data.

For a chip card, the terminal reads a unique metallic chip embedded in the card’s magnetic stripe that holds your payment data to identify the card. For each purchase you make, the chip generates a unique code for one-time use. Sometimes these cards may also require the cardholder to enter their PIN to authorize the purchase.

The card does not physically appear to be any different from a credit or debit card. But, this method is more secure than a traditional magnetic stripe, which stores your card number and expiration date and is read by the terminal’s magnetic reader.

Can I Get a PIN For My Credit Card?

Yes — but only if your card provider offers it. Some card providers offer PINs, but most credit card issuers in the U.S. issue the standard “chip and signature” cards without a PIN, which includes fraud protection via the chip technology.

Situations Where You May Need a Credit Card PIN

There are two main scenarios where you will need a credit card PIN: getting cash advances and making purchases in foreign countries outside the U.S.

Cash Advances

A cash advance is like a loan from your credit card company. There are a few ways to get a cash advance, including using your credit card at an ATM. If you choose this method, you may be required to enter your credit card PIN to verify that you are the cardholder. In these scenarios, if you do not have a PIN or cannot remember it, you will not be able to complete the cash advance.

While cash advances can be useful in certain situations, we recommend against using them too frequently. Cash advances usually come with a fee and high interest rates, which could put you in a tough financial situation in the future if you can’t pay back the money.

Purchases in Foreign Countries

If you travel overseas, particularly in Europe, you may be required to enter a credit card PIN when making certain types of purchases. There’s a small chance that you can opt out, but in many cases, that may not be possible. For example, unmanned automated kiosks in many European countries, like those found at bus or train stations, require a PIN to complete the purchase.

When I traveled abroad to Finland for the first time, I did not know that I would need to enter a PIN to make purchases, such as buying a train ticket, since American credit cards usually do not come with a PIN. For the first couple of weeks, I had to rely on the kindness of strangers and my friends to help me make purchases and kept a running tab of how much I owed people. Fortunately, I had support from others while I sorted out the PIN situation with my credit card company. But that was an embarrassing and less-than-ideal scenario.

How to Get a Credit Card PIN

Do Credit Cards Have PINs?
4 Ways to Get a Credit Card PIN

If you do not have a credit card PIN or forgot it, you can request a new one from your lender. Here are a few ways you may be able to find your PIN or request one:

  • Offer letter: When you received your new credit card, it should have come with an offer letter mailed to you. Sometimes, lenders will send your assigned credit card PIN along with your paperwork, though it may be in separate envelopes for security purposes.
  • Online: Depending on who your lender is, you may be able to find your PIN through your online account on their website or app. Note that some companies may choose not to disclose this information online.
  • Call your issuer: If neither of the above options works, call your credit card issuer directly. There should be a support number on the back of your credit card. While they might not tell you the PIN over the phone, you may be able to ask them to mail it to you or tell you how to set it up if you do not have one.
  • Visit a bank branch: If your bank has a local branch nearby, visit the branch and ask them if they can reset your PIN for you.

Do All Credit Card Issuers Offer Cards with PINs?

Not all credit cards offer PINs — and some issuers don’t make them easy to get. There are a few reasons why some credit card issuers do not offer cards with PINs:

  • It can be more expensive for the issuer to provide this option.
  • Some consumers may not want the hassle of having to remember a PIN in addition to their credit card number every time they make a purchase.
  • Some issuers may feel that the extra security provided by a PIN is not worth the inconvenience to their customers.

If you are looking for a credit card with a PIN, your best bet is to check with your issuer directly or look for one that specifically offers this feature.

Are Chip and PIN Credit Cards Safe?

Because of the technology behind chip and PIN credit cards, they tend to be safer to use than their outdated magnetic stripe counterparts. But keep in mind that as a consumer, you already have certain protections guaranteed by the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA).

The Fair Credit Billing Act is a federal law that protects consumers from unfair credit billing practices. The act requires creditors to follow certain procedures when billing consumers for goods and services. These procedures include providing advance notice of any changes to the terms of the agreement, sending bills to the correct address, and allowing consumers a reasonable amount of time to pay their bills.

Additionally, the act gives consumers the right to dispute errors on their credit bills and obtain refunds for unauthorized charges. That means if you discover a charge you do not recognize, no matter the size or how the purchase was made, you can dispute that with the credit card company. The servicer is required to conduct an investigation and restore your funds if they find evidence supporting your claim.

There is a $50 limit in total liability for fraudulent credit card transactions made using your credit card and a $0 liability for fraudulent purchases made with your card number. Most credit card companies also have zero fraud liability policies in place as well.

If you believe you are the victim of credit card fraud, contact your credit card issuer and explain the situation. They may require you to submit a written statement detailing what happened. Once they receive your information, they will investigate the charge and determine whether or not it is fraudulent. If they find that it is indeed the result of fraudulent activity, they will reverse the charge and refund your money.

It is best to act quickly when disputing a fraudulent credit card purchase, as many issuers have time limits of 90 or 180 days for filing disputes. During the dispute process, keep all documentation or correspondence related to the incident on hand, as this may help prove your case.

The Bottom Line

Credit cards are a great way to make purchases and build your credit history, but they also come with a few risks. If you’re worried about credit card fraud or want to ensure extra security, you can request a PIN when you get your credit card or use a PIN-enabled chip card.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do All Credit Cards Have PINs?

Not all credit cards have PINs, especially in the U.S., as most credit card transactions here do not require a PIN. However, if you plan on taking out a cash advance from an ATM or traveling internationally, you may want to look into getting a credit card PIN as soon as you can.

Can You Use a Credit Card Without a PIN?

That depends on the type of transaction you are doing. For example, if you want to request a cash advance from an ATM, you will need to enter a PIN to complete the request. Or, if you want to purchase a train ticket from an automatic kiosk in a European country, you may be required to enter a PIN for the transaction to go through. For most regular transactions, you can count on not using your own PIN unless you have added security features enabled on your card.

How Do I Get My Credit Card PIN?

When you apply for a new credit card, your card issuer should send you the PIN via mail with your card. If you do not recall receiving a PIN, you can contact your issuer online or by phone to request one. Alternatively, you can stop by a local bank branch (if there is one) to set that up.

We are not financial advisors. The content on this website and our YouTube videos are for educational purposes only and merely cite our own personal opinions. In order to make the best financial decision that suits your own needs, you must conduct your own research and seek the advice of a licensed financial advisor if necessary. Know that all investments involve some form of risk and there is no guarantee that you will be successful in making, saving, or investing money; nor is there any guarantee that you won't experience any loss when investing. Always remember to make smart decisions and do your own research!

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