Chip won’t work on your credit card? Try this.

If you’re standing at a checkout and the chip won’t work on your credit card, don’t give up right away. Here’s what to do when you swipe but can’t complete your purchase because your chip doesn’t work.

Chips are a new security feature, but it’s hard to appreciate them when a broken chip keeps you from completing your purchase. It happened to a longtime friend, and another friend of his provided a solution. I had to share it, because I know it will happen to others.

chip won't work on your credit card
When the chip won’t work on your card, try the chip three times. Then the machine will let you swipe.

Go ahead and swipe like you normally would. Then when the machine prompts you, insert the chip. Wait and let it fail. Pull the card and reinsert the chip. Wait and let it fail. Reinsert a third time. Let it fail again. Usually after three failures with the chip, the machine lets you swipe.

This workaround isn’t ideal, but it can get you out of a bind. Remember this trick for the next time you get stuck. It can save the embarrassment becoming a deadbeat and having to leave without your purchase.

And if you happen to be in line behind someone and the chip won’t work on their card, make the world a better place. Mention this trick to the person in line and to the cashier. You’ll save both of them a lot of needless embarrassment and hassle, and you’ll save everyone in line some time. Everyone wins.

This is a temporary workaround, of course. Contact your credit card issuer just as soon as you can. They’ll send you a new, properly working card. After all, they lose if you can’t use your card too.

An ounce of prevention

You can extend your chip’s life by keeping it in a wallet as much as possible. Protect it from getting scraped, or coming into prolonged contact with liquids. If the contacts appear dirty, you can try cleaning them with a bit of alcohol and a cotton swab. This doesn’t guarantee chip immortality, but it can help.

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