It seems that several USAA credit card holders, including myself, are not fully satisfied with our chip and PIN cards because they use a signature preferred Cardholder Verification Method (CVM). It appears that this is the preferred order:
1: Signature (paper)
2: Enciphered PIN verified online
3: Enciphered PIN verified by ICC
4: Plaintext PIN verified by ICC
5: No CVM required
The problem is that the less secure method (chip and signature) is first on the list and it is widely accepted by merchants so we are almost never prompted for our PIN. This is especially problematic overseas where chip and PIN is common and chip and signature confuses the merchant. I was actually charged twice for a transaction because the merchant didn't understand the signature receipt. It would be great if USAA at least allowed members to opt-in to a credit card that had something like this as its preferred order:
1: Enciphered PIN verified online
2: Enciphered PIN verified by ICC
3: Plaintext PIN verified by ICC
4: Signature (paper)
5: No CVM required
This would provide a more secure order of preference, make overseas use easier, and ultimately make USAA customers more pleased with the service we've come to love. Futhermore, this would put USAA ahead of its competitors because very few banks offer a card that is chip and PIN preferred. I don't expect this change to happen overnight but I think you should strongly (re)consider providing this option.
Integrated Circuit Card (ICC)
Hello and thank you so much for taking the time to share your feedback and recommendation for the way our Chip & PIN cards processing is setup. I will certainly share and forward your recommendation to the appropriate department so we can consider the changes you're recommending for future enhancements of our Chip & PIN cards. Your feedback is always key in helping us ensure we provide the products and services our members want and need. Thank you again and have a great evening! - Darrell
Haven't heard a peep from USAA since Nick's excellent August note. What he is suggesting is a change in Cardholder Verification Method (CVM) that *many* other banks/credit unions/card issuers already offer. He is correct: USAA cards use this sequence:
I had a heck of a time renting a car at Heathrow (London) last month because of this, it took 15 minutes and a supervisor to override the agent's terminal, which was expecting a PIN. All we ask for is the option to move Signature down below PIN verification in priority. Think about it -- anybody can steal your card, use the EVM chip, and sign whatever they want (who checks the signature?) but with the PIN, which only you know, you would have 2-factor protection of the transaction.
Thank you for your feedback. Currently, the special equipment is used broadly across foreign countries, and gradually being adopted in the U.S.; therefore, the card currently also has a traditional magnetic stripe. I understand your concerns and regret your experience with renting a vehicle. There is work to be done to get all U.S. merchants to use the chip technology. I hope that helps. We value your Membership. ~SB
Re: USAA Special Services reply -- Please read Nick43's original post more closely. This issue has nothing to do with the magnetic stripe on our cards. It has to do with the Cardholder Verification Method (CVM) priority that is embedded in our VISA card chips. When that priority is updated so that a PIN is accepted before a signature, this problem will go away. Not only that, but our transactions will be significantly safer.
R_S, thank you for your feedback. Currently our cards are issued as signature preferred cards. You will be prompted for a PIN about the merchants request. Your comments will be shared with our team for review. Thank you. - Rhonda