Chip and PIN - The new way to pay

The new Visa chip & PIN1 card is the next big thing in card security. The computer chip in your card communicates with the chip terminal where you are making a purchase, validating who you are through your unique PIN (Personal Identification Number). It's simple to use and you'll receive full instructions when your new card is sent to you.

Canadian merchants and card issuers are making the transition to this safer, new payment system over the next several years. Chip & PIN technology is already tested, proven and in widespread use around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a chip & PIN card?
  2. What are the benefits of a chip & PIN card and why do I need one?
  3. Will Citizens Bank be issuing chip & PIN cards? When will I receive mine?
  4. Why is Citizens Bank moving to chip & PIN cards?
  5. How do I choose a PIN?
  6. I have an account with my spouse and we received new chip & PIN cards but they have separate card numbers. Why?
  7. Can each person with a card select their unique PIN or does the PIN have to be the same?
  8. Does everybody on the account have to call to activate and select their PIN for the new Chip & PIN cards?
  9. Does everybody with a chip & PIN card on the same account still have access to the same credit limit on the account?
  10. Will my statement look different now that we all have different card numbers?
  11. What if one person on the account loses their card, do we all need to get replacement cards?
  12. How do I keep my PIN safe?
  13. How do I change my PIN? What if I forget my PIN?
  14. Where can I use my chip & PIN card?
  15. Will my card work if I travel outside of Canada?
  16. How do I make a purchase at a store using a chip & PIN card?
  17. Do I get to choose whether I use my PIN or sign the receipt for a credit transaction?
  18. How do I use my chip & PIN card online or over the phone?
  19. What should I do if I have a disability that prevents me from using or remembering a PIN?
  20. Is my existing card safe?
  21. Will the new Visa chip & PIN cards be covered under the Visa Zero Liability policy?
  22. Where can I get more information about Visa chip & PIN cards?


1. What is a chip & PIN card?

Chip & PIN cards contain a computer chip that gives you increased card security. It makes an already safe payment system even more secure. The chip stores encrypted information that is virtually impossible to copy and can only be used when combined with your PIN.



2. What are the benefits of a chip & PIN card and why do I need one?

Chip & PIN cards provide increased efficiency at the checkout but most importantly provide you with an added layer of security. The card must be used with the correct PIN-which is known only to you-to complete a transaction.

Chip & PIN technology has proven itself as a powerful way to reduce fraud in other countries around the world.

By 2010, most credit and debit card payments across Canada are expected to be made using chip & PIN.



3. Will Citizens Bank be issuing chip & PIN cards? When will I receive mine?

Depending on the expiry date on your existing Visa card, you will receive a new chip & PIN card over the next couple of years. If you are already a cardholder, you don't have to do anything to receive one-it will be sent to you automatically.



4. Why is Citizens Bank moving to chip & PIN cards?

We are moving to chip & PIN cards because they are a more secure way for you to pay. Canada is joining 86 other countries around the world, including the UK and France, who have already successfully implemented chip & PIN cards. By 2010, most credit and debit card payments across Canada are expected to be made using a chip & PIN card.



5. How do I choose a PIN?

You must call 1.888.514.6839 immediately once you receive your Visa chip card. The automated phone system will guide you through your PIN selection by first requesting you to key in the 16-digit reference number located on the card mailer. Here are some tips to successfully PIN your Visa chip card:

  • You can only use the reference number located on the card mailer your card came on to PIN. If you have authorized users on your account, you will not be able to use their reference number on their mailers to PIN your Visa chip card and vice versa.
  • Keep your mailer. If you’d like to change your PIN in the future, you must keep your mailer because you will require the reference number on the mailer to successfully select a new PIN. If you discarded your mailer and need to re-PIN your card, you will need to call the Visa Centre at 604.877.4999 or toll-free at 1.800.611.8472 to request a new mailer with a new reference number on it.
  • The only way to PIN your Visa chip card is to go through the automated phone system by calling 1.888.514.6839. Vancity branches and the Visa Centre will not be able to re-PIN your card for you, that’s why it is extremely important that you keep your reference number on the card mailer so that you can PIN or re-PIN your Visa chip card whenever you like.
  • Select a PIN that will not be easily guessed. Some combinations to avoid are birthdates, addresses, and telephone numbers.



6. I have an account with my spouse and we received new chip & PIN cards but they have separate card numbers. Why?

In order for each cardholder on an account to have their own individual PIN, every cardholder is now assigned an individual card number.



7. Can each person with a card select their unique PIN or does the PIN have to be the same?

Each person with a card in their name has to select their own individual PIN. Never disclose your PIN to anyone, not even to friends or family.



8. Does everybody on the account have to call to activate and select their PIN for the new Chip & PIN cards?

Yes, each person with a card in their name needs to call to activate and select a PIN for their Chip & PIN card.



9. Does everybody with a chip & PIN card on the same account still have access to the same credit limit on the account?

Yes, when chip & PIN is implemented, the credit limit on the account is shared between all the cardholders just the same way as with magnetic stripe cards.



10. Will my statement look different now that we all have different card numbers?

Your monthly statement will make it easier to see transactions associated with specific cardholders on the account as it will provide a break down for each card number.



11. What if one person on the account loses their card, do we all need to get replacement cards?

If one cardholder loses their card or have it stolen, only that person needs to call the Visa Centre to get the card blocked and re-issued. Other cardholders on the same account can safely continue using their cards.



12. How do I keep my PIN safe?

  • When entering your PIN, use your free hand or body to shield the number.
  • Don't allow anyone else to use your card, PIN or other security information. You can apply for additional separate cards to maintain the security of your account.
  • Never tell anyone your PIN. Reputable retailers, banks and the police would never ask you to disclose your PIN.
  • Never write down your PIN or store your PIN in your cellular phone, even in a disguised format.
  • If you think someone has seen and memorized your PIN, change it as soon as possible.
  • Don't let your card out of your sight. With the new chip & PIN terminals, your card is left in the terminal until the transaction is complete.


13. How do I change my PIN? What if I forget my PIN?

To select a new PIN, you must call 1.888.514.6839. The automated phone system will guide you through your PIN selection by first requesting you to key in the 16-digit reference number located on the card mailer. Here are some tips to successfully re-PIN your Visa chip card:

  • You can only use the reference number located on the card mailer your card came on to re-PIN. If you have authorized users on your account, you will not be able to use their reference number on their mailers to re-PIN your Visa chip card and vice versa.
  • Keep your mailer. You will require the reference number on the mailer to successfully select a new PIN. If you discarded your mailer and need to re-PIN your card, you will need to call the Visa Centre at 604.877.4999 or toll-free at 1.800.611.8472 to request a new mailer with a new reference number on it.
  • The only way to PIN your Visa chip card is to go through the automated phone system by calling 1.888.514.6839. Vancity branches and the Visa Centre will not be able to re-PIN your card for you, that’s why it is extremely important that you keep your reference number on the card mailer so that you can re-PIN your Visa chip card whenever you like.
  • Select a PIN that will not be easily guessed. Some combinations to avoid are birthdates, addresses, and telephone numbers.



14. Where can I use my chip & PIN card?

Visa Chip & PIN CardCanadian merchants are in the process of upgrading their terminals to accept chip & PIN cards. Merchants are chip & PIN capable wherever you see this symbol.

Meanwhile Visa chip & PIN cards will continue to have a magnetic stripe so purchases can be made anywhere regardless of whether or not the merchant has a chip-capable terminal. Chip & PIN technology is currently in use in 86 countries around the world and is being implemented in another 45 countries.



15. Will my card work if I travel outside of Canada?

Yes, chip & PIN cards can be used anywhere in the world where Visa is accepted today. Many countries have already adopted chip & PIN technology and your card will be fully compatible. In countries where chip & PIN technology isn’t used, your card will work since the card still has the magnetic stripe.



16. How do I make a purchase at a store using a chip & PIN card?

Visa chip & PIN cards are easy to use. The main difference is that you will use a PIN instead of a signature when you make a purchase. You simply insert your card into the chip & PIN terminal and follow the prompts. Then remove your card after the transaction is complete. You will receive full instructions on how to use your chip & PIN card when you receive your new card in the mail.



17. Do I get to choose whether I use my PIN or sign the receipt for a credit transaction?

When you use a chip & PIN card at a chip-enabled terminal, the card will be inserted into the terminal and you will be asked to follow the prompts, which in most instances will require PIN entry. You cannot choose to sign rather than enter a PIN. Merchants who are still in the process of implementing their chip & PIN systems will ask you to sign a sales receipt instead, just like you would now. All Canadian merchants are moving to the new chip & PIN payment system.



18. How do I use my chip & PIN card online or over the phone?

Use your Visa chip & PIN card to shop online or over the phone the same way you use your magnetic stripe card today.



19. Is my existing card safe?

Magnetic stripe cards continue to provide a safe, reliable and convenient method of payment. Chip & PIN is an added layer of security that makes an already secure payment system even more secure.



20. What should I do if I have a disability that prevents me from using or remembering a PIN?

If you have a disability that makes it difficult to use a chip & PIN card, please contact the Visa Centre at 604.877.4999 or toll free at 1.800.611.8472



21. Will the new Visa chip & PIN cards be covered under the Visa Zero Liability policy?

Yes, if your chip & PIN card has been fraudulently used, you will be protected under the Visa Zero Liability policy. Please see the cardholder agreement for further details.



22. Where can I get more information about Visa chip & PIN cards?

Visit www.visa.ca/chip.



1Not applicable to Citizens Bank Reloadable and Prepaid Visa card products.
*Visa Int. /Vancity, Licensed User.