Longer Waits at Checkout? Blame Credit-Card Chip Technology

The holiday shopping season means waiting in line. But this year may be even worse. New chip technology in credit cards is making consumers' purchases safer but also appears to be causing longer lines at some retailers.

The card with the tiny metallic square became more common after Oct. 1, which was when liability for covering fraudulent transactions shifted to the party that hadn't adopted chip technology -- either the merchant or the credit-card issuer.

For merchants, that meant ensuring their sales terminals had a slot to read the new cards, as well as the software to accept these payments. The American Bankers Assn. estimates that 70% of credit cards will be chip-enabled by the end of the year.

"I think what's happening is just people are getting used to this change," said Matt Schulz, senior analyst at CreditCards.com. "You have customers that are confused, you have people behind the counter that are confused, and you have a process that takes a little bit longer.

"You add all that up, and it leaves you with a little bit longer lines at retailers."

The cards are designed to reduce counterfeiting by making it harder to create fakes using stolen data and easier for merchants to authenticate cardholders.

Instead of swiping a magnetic stripe, a customer inserts the card into the reader, chip end first. The card then stays in the reader until the machine OKs its removal.

Rebecca Mieliwocki, 47, of Glendale, Calif. said she noticed that credit card transactions now take a little bit longer, but she doesn't mind because of the chip's added security.

"Relatively speaking, it's not that much longer," Mieliwocki said. "It takes a bit of getting used to, but it will be more than a few transactions before this becomes the norm."

Although large retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., and Home Depot...

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