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2016 Was the Year Credit Card Chips Took Over and I’m Still Upset About It

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Katherine Killeffer

So, no one told you life was gonna be this way? Your life’s a joke, your credit card chip broke, and the article you just clicked on started with the lyrics of the Friends theme song. I hate to break it to you, but this is the new normal.

In this post-apocalyptic, chip-wielding world, nothing is good or sacred. Nothing makes sense anymore -- not even your trusty credit card. This year our cards changed for the worse with the introduction of chips (you know, the little metal squares that do nothing but cause frustration) and I’m still very upset about the whole thing. Here’s why.

They were completely forced upon us

It’d be one thing if we asked for these chips -- or if they were salt & vinegar -- but we didn’t, and they’re not. One day, I think it was in January or February, a new card was mailed to me. I opened the envelope and there it said, “Rebecca, Meet your new credit card with EMV technology!” First of all: What?! Second of all: Hard pass.

EMV -- which is just the fancy name for credit card chips that no one knows (or cares about) -- stands for the three firms that originated the technology that destroyed our lives. They were trying to help and protect us from fraud by creating a new, safer standard. Basically every single time you insert the chip, it creates a unique transaction code that can’t be replicated. It's actually genius. But it’s also still dumb and inconveniences me every single day.

I didn’t touch my new credit card for weeks. I was in denial. My current (and perfect, I should add) card wasn’t supposed to expire until 2020. We were supposed to have more time together, you know? It wasn’t supposed to end this way.

But eventually, old cards were going to stop working. I’d need this new one, whether I wanted to admit it or not -- so I begrudgingly activated it.

They’re not even fully implemented

What I really, really wanted to know is why cashiers are constantly telling me to, “Swipe whenever you’re ready” even though a store’s machine looks like it has chip-reading capabilities. Every time I go to insert my card, they ever so politely interrupt me: “You can just go ahead and swipe whenever you’re ready!” completely and simultaneously ruining my mood, day, and entire existence. Why though?

On Oct. 1, 2015, this technology started making its way into U.S. stores. It was at that time, according to, that businesses became liable for whatever credit card fraud took place in their stores if they didn’t use chip readers. So, of course, many got them immediately. But then they needed the machines to be certified to start using them, so they waited. They waited like Hilary Duff in A Cinderella Story when she confesses her love to Chad Michael Murray and says, “Waiting for you is like waiting for rain in this drought. Useless and disappointing.”

Useless and disappointing because it seems many places are still waiting. Like Dayton, Ohio, for example. According to The Strawhecker Group, a consulting firm in the payments industry, only 44 percent of merchants in Dayton even have chip terminals, and only 29 of those merchants are using them because of activation delays. And that’s as of October 2016.

So just because a merchant has the chip reader and it looks like it’s working, that doesn’t mean it’s up and running. So please swipe whenever you’re ready. K THANKS.

They break all the damn time

There is one thing I like about credit card chips and that is how impeccably well-made they are. They never break and they never get scratched and I’m being so totally sarcastic. CAN YOU TELL?

One woman in Florida said her chip fell off. From the constant push and pull, the chip just...whoops!...came off. This Lady MacGyver then glued the chip back on and used her credit card for an entire month before it broke again. You wanna know why it worked? Cause that’s how they’re made in the first place. They’re just glued to your cards.

So in addition to just falling off, if your chip gets scratched or boiled in your laundry machine, it’s kaput. And you can forget about credit card chips making it through the zombie apocalypse; these things can’t even survive Black Friday.

And, most importantly, they’re confusing

I’m not too proud to admit that I don’t like anything that makes me feel straight up dumb. I like things that challenge me -- things that I can learn from -- but not things that should be easy and just aren’t. There are several things like this: overly complicated TV remotes, Wheel of Fortune, correctly spelling McConaughey without googling it...

Every time I remember to insert my chip, someone tells me to swipe. Every time I go to the grocery story around the corner from my apartment where they usually tell me to swipe, someone invariably tells me to insert my credit card instead. The people, myself included, need answers.

If there is no other reason to dislike credit card chips, I dislike them because THEY ARE CONFUSING and awkward and make me feel like a doofus.

You caught me; that last tweet is me. It’s proof that I’ve been upset about this for a long time. And if we’re being honest, I probably will be for a while. Not as upset as I was when Mr. Eko died on LOST, but upset nonetheless.

If those three firms had known how messy this year was gonna end up, maybe they would’ve held off on the rollout. All we can do now is suck it up and remember the good old days.

Or, you know, pay with cash.

Rebecca Strassberg is a staff writer at Thrillist and will maybe, perhaps (but probably never) adjust to this chip thing eventually. Follow her on Twitter @strassbooger.