General Operation Guidelines

Here are some basic guidelines for chip card transactions using either PIN or signature authentication.

Steps to Follow at the Terminal

Once the card has been inserted, simply follow the prompts on the terminal screen. The terminal will inform you of what to do, whether asking for a PIN or continuing to ask for a signature. During the transition period, some chip cards will still require a signature.

Protocol for Inserting the Card into the Terminal

Establish a policy that will be used consistently at every location. For example, you may want to have the customer hand over the card to be inserted by the cashier into the card reader. Or you may have the customer insert the card themselves.

If a Transaction is Declined

Procedures for declined transactions are identical for chip and magnetic stripe cards. Transactions are declined for the same reasons but with chip cards it is simpler for the cashier because the card makes the decision and the instructions are displayed on the terminal.

Assisting Customers Using Chip Cards for the First Time

First-time chip card users may not know what to do. Be prepared to answer questions they may have about the difference between a chip transaction and a magnetic stripe transaction.

Assisting Customers Who Are Elderly or Disabled

Offer to assist customers when needed and provide them enough time to complete the transaction without worry. Those with disabilities who may have difficulty with chip and PIN may be issued cards that direct the new terminals to automatically ask for a signature instead.


If the original transaction was verified by signature, there is no change to the refund procedure. A purchase verified by PIN will be indicated on the receipt. If you are changing to PIN verification you will need to agree on whether or not a PIN must be re-entered during a refund transaction, and train your staff accordingly.

Voice Authorisations and Call Referrals

Talk to your acquirer and agree on an appropriate voice authorisation and call referral policy.

Adding Tips or Gratuities

In establishments where tips are paid, such as restaurants, develop a policy to be agreed upon for every location. You may need to have the terminal programmed to prompt for additional payment. Having this discussion early is the key to establishing a solution that works for you.

Accepting Magnetic Stripe Cards

Some cardholders, especially those from other countries, may not yet have chip cards. In order to accommodate them, you can continue to accept these cards in the normal way. Magnetic stripe cards can be accepted at chip terminals as well, so you won’t need to maintain two types of terminal. Simply follow the standard procedure for magnetic stripe, signature-based or PIN transactions.