Target has become the first major credit card issuer to convert to cards that contain a PIN.
The department store -- which also issues a Visa credit card that consumers can use anywhere that accepts credit cards -- began notifying credit card customers this week that new cards are coming. The new cards will be MasterCards and will contain computer chips as well as PINs. Target said: "We chose to partner with MasterCard for our new chip cards because they were able to provide a combination of advanced security and card benefits for our guests."
The decision comes as the FBI is saying that credit and debit cards that require PINs, and not just signatures, are safer. Meanwhile, most banks and other credit card issuers are resisting converting to PINs because of cost and because they say customers don't want another piece PIN in a world filled with passwords.
Target customers getting the new credit card will also get a new account number. So they'll need to give their new card information to any companies that are paid automatically, such as for gym memberships or cell phone service.
Cards with PINs are standard in Europe and many other parts of the world. Using a PIN can make a transaction up to 700-percent more secure, according to the Retail Industry Leaders Association, an industry trade association, which cites a Federal Reserve study.