VISA Signature Card - Not a CHIP and PIN Card! Beware!

Regular Contributor

I have been disappointed with my new USAA Visa Signature Card, as it does not work the same as my USAA World Mastercard that it's replacing. And I'm frustrated that I have not been getting clear answers why. In a nutshell, my wife and I have had CHIP and PIN World MasterCards for several years. They're more secure and work seamlessly in Europe. However, the new Visa Signature Card only seems to function as a CHIP and SIGNATURE card (I guess the name should have been a tipoff).


After speaking to several USAA representatives, I finally got a plausible explanation. The representative admitted that USAA/Visa has not yet activated the PIN requirement and that this might just be a "transition thing" and that they will "probably" turn it on at some undetermined time in the future. This seems more likely than some of the other goofy reasons that were suggested (my PIN was faulty, the card was bad, my merchants terminals were at fault, contractual terms between VISA and my merchants).

I can only ask if someone at USAA can actually verify that this is the case and provide more information about when the PIN functionality will be "turned on." We have been victimized by credit card data breaches three times (not at USAA), and have had identity theft problems, so we are very eager for this functionality to be restored to us. We're also going to Europe in July and I'm not at all confident that the card will function there in situations that require a PIN.


We have the exact same problem but because we live in Brussels, this is a bigger issue. The mastercard worked with the PIN code when it had to work such as buying tickets from KIOSKs at the train/metro stations. However, it usually defaulted to signature at most vendors where there was an option to sign.  Now with the signature visa, it only accepts option for signature and we can no longer make purchases from KIOSKs with the new signature visa card.  We get an error message saying temporarily refused transaction.

Yes, we went through all the same trouble shooting with customer support. They even mailed us new cards thinking there was something wrong with the cards. Still didn't work. Your post makes sense and I'm hopeful this is a temporary issue that will be resolved shortly. In the meantime, I've been forced to get a new visa from different financial institution. I'll keep trying the USAA visa from time to time to see if it starts working.




Thank you for posting in the Community. We understand this matter is important to you. We have taken this opportunity to share your comments with our Member Feedback Teams for review.

We have the exact same problem! I have been on the phone with USAA 4 days this week. Each time they say it is the machine that is not reading the chip. This has been in 3 countries -- a hotel kiosk in the Netherlands, a kiosk at a car ferry in Germany (when there was a line of cars behind us), and at a gas station in Sweden where we were testing the card before heading across a toll bridge tomorrow... after USAA told us all was well and it would work.  It didn't.


We had no trouble using the chip and pin mastercard in Scotland at a kiosk in 2014. 


I am now online looking for a new credit card that is truly chip and PIN for our next trip. It is not safe to not be able to go through toll lanes when relying on your "supposedly" chip and PIN card!!!!


No one at USAA seems to care. I called the fraud department and they said that they see nothing. Nothing is being denied by USAA. It is not reaching USAA. They do not see a problem, and have no plans to fix it.  Because there is no problem, they say!!!!  Just wait until someone gets rear-ended because their card won't let them through the toll gate. If it happens to be a lawyer, they will have a problem.


My husband has been a USAA member for over 40 years, and I have been for 28 years. They used to care about their customers.... Very disappointed that no one at USAA is willing to address this issue... they all just keep repeating that it should work fine... or it is the specific machine... 


We don't need the PIN often but since the switch to VISA we have needed it 3 times... a hotel in the Netherlands, a ferry in Germany, and a gas station in Sweden. 


If it is a problem with the machines, it is a very widespread probelm that should concern USAA.


Tomorrow is the toll bridge from Sweden to Denmark... not getting a good night's sleep tonight....


And losing faith in USAA.... :(


I have been researching this issue since my last post. I am now of the opinion that the new USAA Visa card's PIN can only be used at an online payment terminal. Most of the stand alone kiosks in Europe are offline terminals. 


Here is the difference. In the US we have good online infrastructure for confirming credit card use. If you are asked for  a PIN, you put one in, and the terminal then checks in real-time with your bank to verify the PIN.


In Europe, they do not have the online infrastructure that we do. Most of their stand-alone kiosks are offline. The European chip and PIN cards have the PIN embedded in the chip on the card. When they put the card into one the offline kiosks and enter their PIN, the kiosk can read the PIN from the chip embeded in the card.


Evidence that the USAA PIn is for online tpayment terminals only is that you can now change your PIN online. If it is embedded in the chip on the card, you cannot do that so simply.


So now the question becomes:  Did USAA know that they were giving up the offline capabiities that are necessary for full use in Euroope and decide they didn't care about that? Or was this not fully discosed to them in their contract with Visa?


Paeonian Gal,

We regret any frustration you have encountered in using your Visa credit card.  We have your information and are currently researching a solution for you. We appreciate your patience.

I would also like to know the real answer to this question.  I called customer service to ask about whether the new Visa was a true chip and PIN or chip and signature, and was told chip and PIN.  I also took note that the PIN could now be changed on-line, which isn't indicative of a true chip and PIN.  Just because a card has a PIN does not make it "chip and PIN" for this purpose.  What is the real answer?  Your customer service reps don't seem to know the difference, and the primary reason we are maintaining this card is for the chip and PIN capability for foreign travel.  I know that chip and signature is widely accepted.....but not at unattended kiosks, unattended gas stations, etc. 

I just got a call from Donna at USAA. They are still researching the issue, but I am glad to hear that they are looking into it.


I forgot to tell her this, so I am writing it here so you can pass it along to her.


My husband kept his receipt from the refusal at the ferry. It has some codes written on it that mean nothing to him. We will be glad to send a copy of that to USAA once he gets home with it if that might help the guys working on it figure out what is going wrong. He didn't get a receipt anywhere else, just the denied access.


Each time his card was denied, the system asked for his PIN. The machine was expecting a PIN. As soon as he put it in it was denied. I called the USAA Fraud Dept to ask why is was denied in order to try and fix it for his return ferry trip. They had no record of any denials. There was no message of an incorrect PIN number entered. Nothing. There was no attempt to get PIN approval from USAA.


In my mind this points to an offline terminal and no PIN embedded in the chip on the card.


I hope the USAA guys can figure it out!  Let me know if anyone wants the receipt :)

Paeonian Gal,


We appreciate you updating our members in the Community regarding this matter. Your comments have been forwarded to the Subject Matter Expert working with you. Thank you for being a valued USAA member.

@Paeonian Gal. Yup. Ive came to the same conclusion you have. 


Side note:

1. Andrews FCU cards are now chip and sign, but at least the secondary fall back is the OFFLiNE pin.

2. Target's New Mastercard is a true chip and pin card now. No foreign transaction fee as well.  I believe online pin is the primary, then offline pin is the secondary.


So thats still 2 banks so offer real chip and pin cards. UN FCU and Target Mastercard (by TD Bank).