PhotoIn April we reported an upcoming change to Walmart and Sam's Club credit cards: the old Discover logo changed to MasterCard. While investors in the companies involved reacted quickly to the news, it was too early yet to know if cardholders would see any real changes to their accounts.

On June 4 came news of a huge change which ultimately might affect not merely Sam's Club and Walmart customers, but all American credit card holders: the new Sam's Club credit card will feature EMV chip security technology. Sam's claims to be the first major American retailer to do this.

EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa. Last March we reported that MasterCard and Visa announced plans at some point to introduce EMV chips to American credit cards (they're already standard in much of the rest of the world, and have been for the past decade).

The difference between current cards and EMV is that the latter stores information on an encrypted microchip, rather than on the non-encrypted (and relatively easy to counterfeit) magnetic strip found on current American credit cards. EMV cards also require a personal identification number (PIN) at point of sale. The idea is that a thief who knows your credit card account number can no longer make and use a fraudulent credit card with that alone.

“MasterCard has taken a strong stance on the need for the U.S. market to make the transition to chip-enabled credit cards for the benefit of cardholders and merchants alike,” said Chris McWilton, president North America, MasterCard. “This move by Sam’s Club makes them a trailblazer in getting chip cards in the hands of businesses and consumers, and leading the push toward a safer and more secure customer experience. This will no doubt help drive chip-enabled technology forward here in the U.S. as it gains more traction.”

MasterCard and Visa have supposedly set an October 2015 deadline for retailers to more broadly adopt EMV technology.

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