Bank of America, Wells Fargo and other card issuers are pushing to get the new cards to consumers ahead of an October 2015 deadline. That's when Visa, MasterCard and other card networks could hold issuers like banks liable for fraud if they haven't made the new cards available to consumers.
Businesses are also feeling pressure to upgrade their card readers. Visa and MasterCard could hold businesses liable for fraud if they aren't equipped to accept the new cards after the deadline.
Here are five things to know about these new cards making their way to your wallet.
1. It's all about the chip
The back of your old card has a black, magnetic strip that gets read when you swipe it.
You won't have to swipe your new card, thanks to the microchip. Instead, you'll insert it into a store's card reader, which will read the microchip to see if the card is authentic.
That's supposed to make it harder for crooks to create a counterfeit card using your data.
Right now, experts say it's relatively easy for criminals with stolen consumer information to counterfeit a card. They can use the stolen data to reprogram just about any card that has a magnetic strip, such as a gift card, and then use that card in a store.
The new cards will still have strips, to be used with old card readers. But the microchips add another layer of complexity, making it harder to create a fake card, industry officials say.
2. It won't prevent all fraud
The new cards help ensure fraudsters won't use your data to make a purchase in a store. But they won't prevent your data from being stolen in the first place, experts say. The breach affecting Target last year, where data was stolen from millions of customers, would still have happened.
3. Small shops are wary
Large retailers will likely convert their systems to accept the new cards. But smaller businesses are wondering if and when to upgrade.
For small businesses, especially, the conversion could be costly at a time when many are struggling to grow revenues in a recovering economy.
4. The U.S. is catching up
In the U.S., the use of chip cards has lagged other parts of the world. Deployment of the technology is picking up as banks and businesses worry about being held liable for fraud.
Today, card issuers are usually held responsible for fraud against their customers, according to experts. Next year, if a fraudster swipes a counterfeit card at a business that hasn't upgraded its equipment to accept chip cards, the business could be held liable for the losses.
The 2015 deadline affects most merchants. Gasoline stations have until 2017 to upgrade to accept chip cards. The U.S. has continued to rely on magnetic-strip cards, which use a technology that is decades old.
In recent months, there's been rising pressure to make consumer data safer as the list of large-scale data breaches affecting major retailers continues to grow.
Some banks have been making chip cards available for years to customers who regularly travel to places like Europe, where the cards are common. Some banks have also been giving the cards to customers who have requested them. Now, banks are more widely distributing the cards as the 2015 deadline draws closer.
5. Apple may change the game.
Even as consumers switch to the chip cards, it's unclear how much longer shoppers will be buying things with plastic.
This month, Apple unveiled a payment system that will allow shoppers to make debit and credit card purchases in stores using their iPhone 6 or Apple Watch, eliminating the need to use a plastic card. Industry officials will be watching closely to see if Apple Pay takes off.
Apple Pay will rely on devices that use wireless technology to complete a transaction made by phone. To buy something in a store, you'll hold your phone near the device, and press a sensor on your phone, which sends your payment. Apple says it will launch its payment system in October -- and retailers and the payment industry will be closely watching.
*article courtesy in part by CPA Advisor