EMV Card Basics

Joey Czellar

Joey Czellar

By Joey Czellar, Member Experience Officer

As the official issue date of our EMV cards draws closer, I wanted to take a moment to address some questions surrounding the EMV cards. We’ve had numerous questions come up since the cards were first announced. Some of those questions include:

  • What is an EMV card? How is it different than my current card?
  • Why are we getting new cards? Can’t I just use my old one?
  • What does the chip do for me?
  • When will I get mine?

First and foremost, as member-owners of the credit union, we want to provide you with the best products and services we can offer. One of our primary goals as a member-driven financial institution is to provide exceptional member service at all times. One avenue we can accomplish this goal is to protect our member-owners when using debit and credit cards by issuing EMV chip cards. While we cannot provide a comprehensive list of all possible questions, we do our best to answer them as they come up. With that said, let’s take a look at some EMV chip card basics.


  • EMV stands for “Europay, MasterCard, and Visa” and is named after the developers of the chip card technology.
  • An EMV card is embedded with a microprocessor chip that stores and protects cardholder data at chip-enabled terminals (more on this later).
  • The EMV cards have a noticeable difference, namely the chip embedded in the face of the card. Outside of the visual difference, there are a number of features contained within the chip that provides additional protection to our cardholders.
  • Most financial institutions have already started issuing EMV cards. The driving force behind the nationwide adoption of the chip cards is to help combat fraud and protect cardholder information via encryption.
  • As we transition into a new era of cards, here at Serve Credit Union we want to make that transition as smooth as possible. This past year we’ve done a fair bit of work in anticipation of the EMV cards and we are excited to near the end of this project!


  • Chip cards have been around for approximately two decades, so the technology is new to us, but is well established.
  • The EMV card increases security at terminals equipped to handle reading the chip. When purchases are made at these chip-enabled terminals, a process takes place to verify the card’s authenticity during the transaction which makes it more difficult to counterfeit.
  • The chip protects the cardholder’s information at the terminal. While a common occurrence with non-EMV cards, the chip helps reduce ‘card-present’ fraudulent transactions. In plain terms, some fraudulent transactions occur because a copy of a card was manufactured, and this will help reduce this amount.
  • Card authentication methods provide security through cardholder verification. If you currently have a debit card, you are familiar with this step because you have a PIN number. In addition, EMV chip cards also encrypt the transaction data and PIN number, creating a more secure “transaction environment.”


  • Be conscientious of what card and chip terminals look like. Your EMV chip card still has a magnetic strip (to remain backward compatible) but this can still be compromised via skimmer devices.
  • Card information can still be compromised via online shopping portals, unfamiliar websites, and the like. Be careful when shopping online and never enter card information into websites you do not recognize.
  • If you notice suspicious activity on your account, contact our office at your earliest convenience.