While there are credit cards that have PINs, they aren’t used that much compared to PIN-less cards, especially in the United States. In many cases, buyers sign a receipt instead of entering a PIN. PINs, however, offer an extra security level that you may not otherwise have. Because of this, people often use credit card PINs when traveling abroad, making purchases from kiosks, or getting cash advances. If you don’t have a credit card PIN and want one, you can talk to your issuer about creating one. You can also consider using a PIN-secured debit card linked to a checking account instead.
When purchasing items at a store with your debit card, you’ll likely be asked to punch in your PIN. While this doesn’t always happen with credit cards in the United States, some credit card issuers do set up a credit card PIN. Credit card PINs are also becoming more common as more credit card companies switch to a chip-and-PIN system.
Credit card PINs are an added security measure used the same way debit card PINs are. Issuers use card PINs to confirm the cardholder’s identity, making it harder for bad actors to use lost or stolen cards or hacked account information. Even if you don’t have a credit card PIN, it might be worth creating one simply for added security.
What is a PIN? Why is it important?
A personal identification number, or PIN, is a four-digit code assigned to a card that only the owner should know. You type in PINs as part of an electronic transaction to confirm that you are the card owner. In addition to being used in electronic transactions, PINs are necessary to withdraw money from ATMs. PINs are essentially used to confirm your identity as the card owner.
A PIN is an extra security layer if your card gets stolen. A thief who takes your card but doesn’t know the identification number can’t use the card. Both debit cards and credit cards can have PINs, but they’re more common with debit cards.
Pro tip: how to select a PIN
In some cases, you’ll be allowed to choose your own PIN when getting a new card. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing what you want your four-digit code to be.
- First, avoid major dates such as birthdates or anniversaries. Those are pretty easy to find online and aren’t very secure.
- Second, don’t use an old PIN. Experts generally advise changing your PIN whenever you get a new card.
- Last, avoid street addresses or any other numbers that a hacker or thief could easily guess.
Debit card PIN vs. credit card PIN: What’s the difference?
Debit card PINs and credit card PINs are basically the same. Transactions using debit cards more commonly use PINs than do credit card transactions, especially in the United States. But regardless of how often people use PINs with their debit or credit cards, a card PIN is always a four-digit code that acts as a level of security for your card and account.
Why would I use a credit card PIN?
In general, you are more likely to need your PIN when you make purchases with your debit card than when you use your credit card. (There are exceptions though) So why even bother with a credit card PIN if it isn’t used all the time? A credit card PIN acts as an extra layer of security to ensure your account and money are safe. While PINs may feel inconvenient, the extra layer of security they offer makes them worth considering.
The debit card option
Credit cards often come with rewards, purchase protections, and other perks that debit cards don’t usually include. This makes a lot of users prefer credit cards over debit cards. However, if PIN-based card security matters a lot to you, you may want to consider getting a checking account that includes a debit card.
PIN-based security is not the only advantage of choosing a debit card over a credit card. Debit cards also make prudent money management easier for people who find they can’t resist overspending with a credit card.
If you worry about having a debit card tied to the main account where you keep a lot of your money, one solution would be to get a new checking account that you use just for debit card purchases — and fund it accordingly.
When a credit card PIN is needed
In a few instances, you will need a credit card PIN. If you’re frequently in the following situations, be sure to know what your PIN is.
Key PIN-required situations
Here are three situations where you’ll usually need to know your credit card PIN:
- Visiting a foreign country
- Using a payment kiosk
- Getting a cash advance
Let’s look at each situation more closely.
1. Visiting foreign countries
If you travel overseas and use your credit card, there is a chance that you will be asked for a PIN. So, to ensure that you won’t be caught in any financially sticky situations, make sure you know your PIN before leaving the country. If you can’t figure it out in time, then use an alternative source of payment, such as cash or a debit card. Also, keep in mind that making credit card purchases abroad could result in foreign transaction fees being charged to your account.
2. Using payment kiosks
Many payment kiosks, such as ticket machines, will require you to punch in your credit card PIN to complete the transaction. This is especially true when traveling abroad.
3. Getting cash advances
A cash advance is when you take money out of your credit card account. This can be done at a bank branch, at an ATM, or possibly through your online account (via an advance check by mail). If you need to withdraw money from an ATM, you will need your credit card PIN. Cash advances can be very useful but should not be used too frequently. There is usually a cash advance fee and high interest rates tied to the transactions.
How to receive a credit card PIN
Despite their infrequent use in the U.S., credit card PINs are common. Even so, not every issuer gives out PINs for its cards. So, how do you get one if you don’t have one? The easiest way to is to contact your issuer directly.
The phone number for your credit card issuer can be found online or on the back of your credit card. This number should reach a representative — after you answer some questions using your phone’s keypad or your issuer’s voice-recognition system. Explain what you’re looking for, and the representative should be able to help you create a credit card PIN.
How can I find my credit card PIN if I forgot it?
Good question! Here are some solutions you can try.
How to find your forgotten credit card PIN
Most times, if you forget your credit card PIN, you’ll be required to create a new one instead of recovering it. But there are some ways you might be able to find your credit card PIN.
- Offer letter: Your offer letter is the letter that comes with your new credit card when it is mailed to you. Some credit card issuers list the pin on your offer letter, though this isn’t too common for security reasons.
- PIN assignment mailer: Did you save the mailer that told you your assigned PIN in the first place? If so, and if you haven’t changed your PIN since, you can find your PIN there.
- Online: Your online account on your credit card issuer’s website could be another place where your PIN is listed. Once again, it depends on who your issuer is. Some credit card companies choose not to disclose clients’ credit card PINs online. Either way, this is a good place to check.
- Contact your issuer: If neither of these methods yields results, contact your issuer directly. This can be done by calling the phone number on the back of your credit card or searching for the number online. When you call your card issuer, you’ll have to provide some proof of identification, such as your Social Security number. The rep will either then tell you your PIN number, or have you create a new one.
A security tip
If you can convince a phone rep at the company that issues your credit card to tell you your PIN over the phone, consider canceling your account and getting a new card from a company more focused on security. Bad actors should not be able to find out your PIN over the phone just because they know your Social Security number or mother’s maiden name or have acquired hacked answers to your security questions.
Do all credit cards have PINs?
Not every credit card has a PIN, especially in the United States. But, if your card has a chip, it’s likely it has a PIN as well.
Why doesn’t my credit card have a PIN?
Your credit card may not have a PIN because you declined to set one up when you opened your account. Your card issuer may not have given you one, either. If you’re interested in getting a credit card PIN, talk to your credit card company.
What are chip-and-PIN credit cards?
Chip-and-PIN credit cards are credit cards with a microchip on them. When you make a transaction with these cards, you insert the card instead of sliding it. You use the credit card’s PIN in lieu of a signature to complete the transaction. This way, you don’t have to sign receipts.
Are chip-and-PIN credit cards safe to use?
Chip-and-PIN credit cards were built to have more security features and are much safer to use than their older counterparts. The microchip and the PIN act as added security features to confirm your identity. This was not offered in older versions of credit cards.
- A PIN is a four-digit code used by a debit or credit card owner to confirm identity during a transaction.
- While PINs are more commonly used with debit cards, some credit cards will have a PIN that is used for cash advances, payment kiosks, and more.
- If you do not have a credit card PIN and would like to receive one, contact your credit card issuer.
- You can also contact your credit card issuer if you’ve forgotten your PIN. Issuers who aren’t able to tell you your old PIN will help you set up a new one.
Find the best personal credit card for you
Now that you know all about credit card PINs, how much do you know about your credit card and other options available to you? There are so many different types of credit cards you can choose from. Depending on your needs and qualifications, you could have cashback credit cards, credit cards with rewards, and even low-interest credit cards. Whether you have good or bad credit, you have options! So which is best for you? Check out SuperMoney’s review of the best personal credit cards. This will give you a good idea of the different credit cards you can choose from and of which among them best suits your needs.
View Article Sources
- Identity Theft — U.S. Department of Justice
- Useful background articles from Credit Karma and from banking and personal finance sites — Various
- Using Debit Cards — Federal Trade Commission
- Visa PIN Security Program — Visa
- How To Change a Chase Debit Card Pin — SuperMoney
- Is There a Prepaid Credit Card That Builds Credit? — SuperMoney
- What Are the Advantages of a Debit Card? — SuperMoney
- What are the Different Types of Credit Cards? — SuperMoney
- Where Is The Security Code On A Debit Card — SuperMoney
Camilla has a background in journalism and business communications. She specializes in writing complex information in understandable ways. She has written on a variety of topics including money, science, personal finance, politics, and more. Her work has been published in the HuffPost, KSL.com, Deseret News, and more.