Banks have been sending out new chip-enabled credit cards that have to be inserted and held in a credit card reader to complete a transaction.
These new cards look similar to your old credit cards, but now have a small metallic chip on the front. Think of the chips - called EMV microchips - as mini computers. They hold your payment data, which is currently held on the magnetic stripe, and provide a unique code specific to each purchase
Chip-enabled cards aren't new, they've been around for more than 20 years and are common in many areas of the world. But they are more secure than magnetic-striped-only cards.
"The microprocessor adds additional security data to the transaction each time the card is [used], " explained Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance.
Here's what will change:
Thieves will have a harder time stealing your info
The magnetic stripe is easy to copy and use to create fake cards. Thieves commonly obtain a card's data through data breaches and using card skimmers they install in places like ATMs and gas pumps. You can unsuspectingly give away your data when you swipe your card at a compromised machine.
"Everything a fraudster would need to make a duplicate was available by copying the stripe itself or stealing data from the merchant data system, " said Vanderhoof .
The new chips hold data specific to each purchase, so reproducing will be much more difficult.
"We have not seen a proven data breach of a chip card in an EMV market since it's been in place, "said Owen Wild, security marketing director at NCR, which makes transactional software and hardware.
It will take a few seconds longer to check out
The check-out process will be a little different and a bit longer for consumers as the card authentication process unfolds.
"If a typical transaction is three to five seconds, what we've seen with the chips is five to 10 seconds, " said Wild. "It will have an impact on lines ... especially in high-traffic areas."
A signature will still be required when using a chip-enabled card.
You'll see more new card readers in stores
While there's no mandate for the new cards, retailers and banks do have a big incentive to upgrade by October 1.