Real chip and pin for Americans from Andrews Federal Credit Union

Diners Club under BMO is rolling out chip and pin cards but is not open to new applicants. Some US card issuers are disingenuously issuing chip and signature cards in a lamentable application of American exceptionalism.

Andrews Federal Credit Union to the rescue.


FlyerTalk has a superb thread curated by kebosabi with a Google Docs spreadsheet of all chip options in the US. kebosabi broke the news about Andrews FCU and MASTERNC got the card and shared the application experience. They and all the contributors to this thread should be applauded for their tireless research efforts.

So here is the GlobeTrek Visa Rewards Card showing the big banks how to cater to serious travelers (see the FAQ, too).

Rapid Travel Chai miles and points special consultant spiffster contributes this pithy analysis of the card:

Pros – best first
Chip and PIN – Yeah, PIN !
no annual fee – Yeah!
1% foreign transaction – better than 3% but still not 0
5000 bonus on first purchase – but only 5K?
no balance transfer fees – cool but still charge interest
low interest rate – again, who carries a balance?
no cash advance fees – but, who does this?

Cons – worst last
1% foreign transaction – still not 0
platinum not signature – lesser bennies
Uses CURewards for its points redemption – max value is probably 1% and almost always lower on these programs

This  is a specialist card, the best option for Americans who need frequently need true chip and pin. For others the chip and pin benefits may not be justified due to a credit pull to open the account and poor rewards program. Bravo to another credit union showing the big boys how to meet customer need!

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  • There have been a few times in my European travels where I needed chip & pin (though ultimately I resorted to the easy solution: cash). I’d definitely consider this card even without a solid rewards program (though using it only when necessary) if it had a 0% foreign transaction fee. In the meantime, cash is king.

  • @New Girl in the Air – 0% would be great, but 1% is not that bad, especially for Europe where many travelers’ cost of acquiring euros is higher than 1%, either by gouging from ATMs or exchange offices. They can get a debit card with no fees like the Schwab High Yield Investor Checking but those too require opening a new account, which even without a credit pull, is still a hassle for some.

  • Here’s a blog post with step-by-step instructions and screenshots for getting a chip-and-pin card with Andrews Federal Credit Union.

  • @VIctoria – thanks for the helpful guide, this great product should get as much support as possible.

  • Robert Mack

    Greetings. I got this card and used it on a recent trip to France. Sadly, it provided no material advantage over my ordinary non-chip non-pin cards. Their card readers did read the chip. But then I was almost always still required to sign a paper slip, the same way as if they had swiped one of my ordinary cards. It seems that the Andrews pin isn’t recognized in France. Also, the process of getting this card is truly Kafkaesque. Among other things they required complete copies of my last two tax returns.

  • @Robert Mack – thanks for sharing and sorry to hear the effort did not pay off for you. As more data points come in it seems the main issues where people have are automated ticket machines and automated gas stations. I had problems on my last trip to France where the rail station machines would not accept any of my cards but there was a staffed booth that was able to swipe the card. I think the Andrews option then should be reserved for Americans that spending significant time in Europe, such as living there part-time.

  • Steven Grimm

    I’ve read elsewhere that the Andrews card is really “chip-and-signature, with PIN as a last-ditch fallback” — if the card reader is capable of spitting out a signature slip, it’ll do so, and you’ll only be asked for a PIN in cases where there’s no way to collect a signature.

    Not ideal, but better than no PIN capability at all.

  • @Steven Grimm – thanks for that info, I have not gotten the card because my travel to Europe is limited, so it is good to hear info from the field. I do have Diner’s Club as an emergency fallback, though the 3% foreign transaction fee bites and it is not open to new applications so not useful to most people.

  • Joe Geohan

    I have the Andrews GlobeTrek VISA. To clear up some misconceptions, it can be used as a normal swipe card (as is normal in the USA) or as a chip and signature/pin card (as is the common technology in place in Europe).

    When using the chip technology, the AndrewsFCU is BOTH chip/signature and chip/pin. Which gets used is a function of how the machine in which you use is configured. Most (but certainly not all) in Europe are set to default to chip/signature which is why you still get the slip printed out to sign. If the machine is set to default to chip/pin, then you would be asked for your pin.

    Don’t ask why the defaults are set this way. I have no idea, and only the owner of the card reading machine can tell you. The owner is most likely not the restaurant where you are using the card, but the banking or financial company that provided it with the machine. Most European issued cards are true chip/pin cards, so they never get the signature slip as it is not an option of their particular card.

    (There are some who dispute this and say that the Andrews card is configured to default to chip/signature and only ask for a pin when the signature option is not available. If that’s true, the result is the still same – you will be asked for a signature unless that option is not available in which case you will be asked for a pin.)

    I have successfully the Andrews chip/pin option successfully whenever I have needed to – at unattended gas stations, on French toll roads, and at unattended train ticket dispensers in France mostly. It works (whereas a USA swipe card would not), but only rarely I have been actually asked to input the pin number.

    If in Europe your card is swiped rather than inserted into a card reading machine, then it is ALWAYS using the swipe technology which absolutely requires a signature slip.

    Then there is the problem of using the card at some French gas stations (notably Intermarché, but others as well, I’m sure). These gas chains apparently are slowly but surely changing their gas pumps to only accept FRENCH credit cards. If they have done this, then your USA issued Andrews chip/pin card is not going to work. My card has not been rejected anywhere yet, but I have heard of people who have encountered this technology.

    Ah, how to get an Andrews card. If you are not in their very limited conditions for membership, mainly military, you CAN still get a card. Just join the America Consumer Council and you instantly become eligible. Joining the AAC is free. I joined and got a certificate of membership with a membership number.

    Then using that number, I filled out an application to become a member of Andrews Federal Credit Union. I applied on-line and got a confirmation and a confirmation number. Then I heard nothing for three days.

    So I called AndrewsFCU customer service and dealt with a very helpful representative. He helped me fulfill several more requirements:

    1. I had to fill out a password request form and return it to them. This password is ONLY for on-site branch banking or telephone banking – it is not for on-line access).

    2. I had to fill out an return a signature card for the account.

    3. I had to provide two types of federally recognized forms of identification with my picture on them.

    The signature card has to be mailed to them as electronic signatures are not allowed in their records. The password request and scans of both sides of my AZ drivers license and my passport could be emailed to them.

    To open the account he used a credit card that I provided him for a $10 advance to be used to open a savings account.

    Ta the same time I was talking to this rep, I asked about getting a GlobeTrek VISA Card as that my only real interest in becoming an AmdrewsFCU member. He initiated the application for the credit card for me, filling out what was needed whileI was on the phone with him. He stated I would need to provide proof of my income for the application to be approved. After discussion, he instructed me to send copies of my monthly pension disbursement statement and my start-of-year social security payment statement to them. He said that scanned copies would be fine and to include them with the above documents and he would forward them to the credit card approval people. He gave me a confirmation number for the loan application (as the credit card is actually considered a loan by Andrews).

    Within minutes I sent him all the stuff he required in one email and immediately dispatched the signature card to them by priority mail. In a couple of days the $10 advance showed up on my on-line credit card statement. Lo and behold, about a week later I got a form letter welcoming me to the AndrewsFCU family. I was in!

    Another week went by and I heard nothing about the GlobeTrek credit card, so I again called customer service. (There has always been a very short wait to actually speak to someone)I was shuttled to three different people, the third of whom was helpful. She checked with the loan approval people and said they had not received my proof of income (that I had included in my original email above). She said they could check on those the next day, but that it would most likely expedite matters if I sent those documents directly to the loan people and she provided me with another email address. I immediately sent that email off.

    A day or two later I got an email stating my loan (i.e., credit card) request had been approved and now required some electronically signed documents to be completed, copies of which were attached. I went through the slightly arcane process of signing the papers electronically. The following day I got another email stating the documents had been successfully processed.

    I had heard that the AndrewsFCU GlobeTrek VISA cards are made in Canada and that it would take 10-14 days for me to receive mine. Indeed, about 10 days later I got the GlobeTrek card in the mail. The four-digit pin number arrived in a separate mailing the same day. All that was left to do was go through the normal credit card activation process which was all done without human intervention from my home phone. It must be done from the home phone of record for the account.

    Since then it has be clear sailing!

    Oh, on-line access to the savings account and to the VISA account are separate log-ins, and both exactly as you would expect. You can link other bank accounts to your AndrewsFCU savings account for transfer, but not until 90 days have passed since opening the account.

    Oh, and yes, the Andrews GlobeTrek VISA does result in a 1% foreign transaction fee, so large foreign purchases still go on my Capitol One VISA (which has no foreign tx fee). But having the GlobeTrek card is a wonderful experience when using French toll roads, automated ticket kiosks on the Metro in Paris, and, so far at least, for buying gas at unattended pumps in France, the UK, and Ireland.

  • Pingback: Detailed field report on the chip and pin Andrews FCU GlobeTrek Visa Rewards Card - Rapid Travel Chai()

  • Steve Leonardo

    It now says it does not charge foreign transaction fee. Is this a recent change?

    Every GlobeTrek Visa® Rewards Card comes standard with some amazing benefits, like:

    /// 1.90% APR introductory rate* for the first 9 months on all purchases and balance transfers
    /// Purchasing limits up to $50,000
    /// Earn Rewards Points with every purchase
    /// No balance transfer fees
    /// No annual fees
    /// No cash advance fees
    /// No International/Foreign Transaction fee
    /// 5,000 points with your first purchase
    /// and MORE!

  • @Steve Leonardo – thanks for the great update, that card keeps getting better and better.

  • Joe Geohan

    Steve, yes, they changed to no foreign tx fees shortly after I got the card. I will be back in the UK and France in September and October and will report how it goes.

    I won’t be in Paris so will not be able to check how it works on Metro tickets. Someone reported above that it does not work in the machines. I have used it at railway station unattended kiosks to buy train tickets. In the past it has worked at most gas station pumps but reportedly InterMarche and others have changed their machines to accept only French bank cards. We’ll see.

    And, yes, in the past when I use the card in restaurants the most common result is that the little portable machines do recognize the card but still spit out a slip for signing. That’s a result of the the cared being chip/signature first and chip/pin only when signature is not is not an option (unattended card readers etc.). The fact that it recognizes the card but spits out a slip often confuses the server collecting the payment. A normal swipe card inserted directly into the machine is just rejected and then swiped through an alternative “swiper” to produce the slip. The Andrews card does not require being swiped.