It seems like every day we're hearing about more and more data /security breaches happening.  This is especially troubling when it involves national retailers like Target and The Home Depot.  My wife and I are seriously considering going back to cash for our local purchases simply because we cannot trust exposing our debit cards and credit cards to either the card swipe or the retailer's systems. 


I know about the MasterCard security for online purchases and we will use that, but it would be great if we could switch to a prepaid card from USAA in lieu of carrying cash for our local purchases.



Thank you for your feedback. I will pass it through to the appropriate department.


In the meantime, maybe an account specialist would have some suggestions for you. You can click here to provide us with additional detail and your member information. You can also reach a service specialist at 1-800-531-8722.

I have been a USAA Member for over 44 years.  That being said I remain employed and tend to be an early adopter of new technology.  I would like to share my recent experience with my newly issued USAA Chip and Pin Mastercard which I recently requested since I plan to travel to Germany in the next several weeks (Oktoberfest and more).  Also it may be worth noting that I reside and shop in a wealthy suburb of Washington, DC.  Here is what I have learned about the deployment of Chip and Pin in my area:

  • Target:  Target has installed Chip and Pin card readers which have the Chip reader physically blocked.  When I queried the store manager, he attempted to remove the plastic cover with a pen tip and then gave up.  He said the reader were recently installed but the employees were not provided any instructions on how they were to be used.  Another example of higher management not communicating with front line employees.
  • Walmart:  Wallmart has Chip and Pin reader slots that are open and the Chi on the card can be slid in (just like my Government PIV card).  However the machine I used would not read the pin.  I advised an employee who valiently attempted to help me for several minutes.  She eventually cancelled the transaction and took me to another reader.  This reader did read the Chip but did not requst a pin.  Instead it requested a signature.  So in Walmart, at least  in my area, we have Chip and Sign functionaliy but not Chip and Pin.
  • Sunoco Gas Station:  Swiped it  and it worked like a Chipless card.  Completed the transaction as usual by entering my zip code.
  • CVS Pharmacy:  CVS has installed readers with Chip readers which are open but they also do not work.  Used the swipe functionality on my Mastercard and made the purchase
  • USAA ATM in the same CVS:  Read the card (not sure if it read the Chip or the stripe.  In any case, it then requested a pin which was entered and accepted after two attempts.  I was able to obtain the balance on my card.   I did not attempt to withdraw funds because of the high interest rates charged on cash withdrawals. 

I am a little nervous right now because I had planned to use the card in Germany incorporating its full Chip and Pin functionality but now I not certain it really has Chip and Pin functionality or if the problem rests with the U.S, merchants.  I hoping it is the latter.


You'll be fine with Chip & PIN in Germany.  In fact, you'll be better off with it because German merchants expect that if you're using a card, it will have a chip.  You'll have even more control over your card at places like restaurants (at least those that accept credit cards) because usually the wait staff will come to your table with a portable card reader; you insert your card, enter a tip if you like, enter your PIN, and you're done.  I've used my USAA chip & PIN card there without difficulty.

The US will be converting to the Chip & PIN system in the next few years, which is probably why you've seen it at a number of merchants.  This is most likely a sign of large companies preparing for the changeover without actually having the functionality of the Chip & PIN reader enabled.