Diners Club rolls out chip and pin and drops the points-to-miles fees!

The Rapid Traveler received a letter from BMO dated January 28 containing his pin for the new look US Diners Club card with chip and pin. This is true chip and pin, not the half-measure chip and signature that US banks condescendingly claim is more suited to their US customers. A magnetic strip is retained and the card can be used at any merchant that accepts MasterCard. The card was supposed to arrive within ten days of the letter, but has not, so either there is a BMO issue or a mail delivery issue.

This will be the first mainstream chip and pin card in the US. Too bad it is currently closed to new applications. Hopefully BMO will open to new applications as it revitalizes the card. The big strengths of Diners Club are the rental car primary collision damage waiver and access to an eclectic mix of airport lounges. The weaknesses are the 3% foreign transaction fee and the high transfer fees in its rewards catalog when moving points to airlines. That 3% foreign transaction fee dents the primary appeal of chip and pin, but the hit can be swallowed in a pinch or by low volume users.

But wait, The Rapid Traveler just peeked at the new look Club Rewards website (registration required) and found the vexing points-to-miles transfer fees have vanished. 1,000 points = 1,000 miles and no fee on Alaska Airlines, Delta and numerous other airlines. Hotel partners have varying formulas.

If BMO slashed the foreign transaction fee, Diners Club could again be a high flyer.

Tomorrow, a look at a little-known chip and pin card with 1% foreign transaction fee unearthed by the denizens of the Credit Card Programs forum on FlyerTalk.

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  • 15 years ago, Diners was my corporate (and defecto personal) card. What a great experience.

    It also got me my first transfer bonus…they offered a two for one transfer to Delta. I had 80k of spending built, and converted that to 160k miles on DL…then enough for a round trip ticket on Concorde (which was my redemption!).

    Citi hadn’t been opening new accounts (except for existing corporate relationships)….I guess with BMO, they’re now back in business.

  • LIH Prem

    that’s good news. No letter for me yet. +1 on the forex fees.

    At least we have 1 card we will be able to use at kiosks, gas stations, etc.

    -David

  • Having been stuck for 2 hours at a gas station on the A1 in Italy waiting for the attendant to come on duty so I could use my non-chip-pin card, I would have happily paid the forex fee.

    Also, things like using luggage lockers require chip-pin even for the low 1Euro 24 hour fee. Again, convenience matters.

    Train stations in EU no longer take US cards, so I have to hit a cash machine, then pay the in-person surcharge. That would offset the forex fee if I used the card at the ticket machine.

    If I get the offer, I’ll sign up.

  • Volena Howe

    Interested in a chip and pin credit card

  • @Volena Howe – there are still few options in the US, the most comprehensive list is here.