Carnegie Mellon University

Purchasing Card Chip and Pin FAQs

Many features of a chip card are the same as a magnetic stripe card. Both cards are embossed on the front with the card number, cardholder name and expiration date and provide the three-digit security code on the back of the card. The key difference is the silver colored embedded chip on the front left side of the card.

Your new card will arrive with a sticker giving the activation line number.  Call that number, and follow the prompts (also listed below).  Please determine what you would like your 4-digit PIN to be before you call the activation line, as you will be activating your card and setting the PIN in a single call.

  1. Call “Card services card activation” (888-339-2228)
  2. Enter 16 digit card number, followed by #
  3. Enter assigned activation code, followed by #
  4. Enter 3 digit CVV code from back of card
  5. Enter desired 4 digit PIN followed by #
  6. Reenter PIN, followed by #
  7. You will hear a confirmation message stating that your card has been activated
  8. Call disconnects automatically

If making a purchase online, the process will not change. Also, if you make a purchase at a non-chip terminal, either you or the merchant will swipe your card and then you sign a receipt.  If making a purchase on a chip terminal, insert the chip portion of the card into the terminal with the chip facing up. It’s important to leave the card in the terminal until the transaction is complete. If you remove the card too soon, the transaction will end and your purchase will not be processed. Follow the prompts on the terminal’s screen and enter your self-identified PIN.  When your transaction is complete, you will be prompted by the terminal to remove your card.

Note: There could be merchants that have chip-enabled terminals that are not set up to prompt for a PIN and will request a signature even for chip transactions. When you insert your card into the chip reader, it will prompt you for a PIN if the chip reader contains that capability; if not, you will just be required to provide your signature. 

The magnetic stripe will continue to be on the back of your chip card so that your transactions can continue to be processed as signature transactions at merchant locations not yet equipped with new chip payment technology. In the case that both chip and magnetic stripe technology are provided by a merchant, you are expected to take advantage of the more secure chip payment method. 

Your chip card is just as durable as your previous magnetic stripe card. Just as magnetic stripe cards get damaged with use and wear, your chip card may get damaged over time. If your chip card is not working properly contact PCard Help ( for a replacement card.