Fezzik In Paris

Two Americans, three cats, and too many places named "de Gaulle"

What were, to this point, true chip-and-PIN (PIN-priority EMV-equipped) credit cards were replaced yesterday with the farcical, ridiculous, chip-and-signature style cards that are apparently going to be the interim card standard in the States. Thus while Europe has been on chip-and-PIN for the past 15 years and is working on phasing out swiping (and only continues to accept swiped cards due to tourists coming from countries with joke-level card security like the US), the US card issuers are doling out these abominations that require you to sign a receipt. Not a big deal in the US, but when French merchants outside of the tourist areas (which are, you know, where people are when they live in a country) aren’t used to seeing this mix (the guy at the Monoprix register went “What the hell? Signature?”), and when the PINs aren’t actually hard-coded in chip-and-sig cards as they are in the chip-and-PIN cards (so we can no longer buy or even retrieve tickets from the SNCF machines, to say nothing of any other non-human-attended machine), trying to actually use the goddamn card as intended becomes a lot more difficult.

Even with the 1% foreign transaction fee (which I happily ate, because the card was PIN-priority), using the US-based card for daily expenses allowed us to avoid the misery of shuffling funds to a European bank account without worrying about running afoul of FATCA (read up on that gem of a law if you want to see something that was supposed to keep the very wealthy from offshoring but seems only to have managed to fuck expats over), without the delay inherent in moving funds across international lines, and without having to deal with a forex trading company because wiring funds via our bank is stupidly expensive, slow, and per their explanation, “not trackable” (read: funds will disappear, may take up to 3 weeks to be deposited, and then magically reappear).

The best part? The very best part? They didn’t even tell us that the cards were changing; not until my stomach sank as I read the letter that accompanied these two worthless pieces of plastic did I have any inkling that they were in the process of completely defeating the purpose of us even possessing these cards.

So thank you USAA for downgrading from PIN-priority to signature-priority, for changing it without warning us, for making a supposed “World” card miserable to use anywhere outside of the States, and for proving, yet again, that behind all the flag-waving and quotes about your integrity and insistence that you’re different, you’re just another lousy bank.

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