Soon you may be able to do a lot more with your credit card than just swipe it.
Citibank is set to begin offering credit cards in November that include two buttons and small lights that allow the user to decide at checkout whether they prefer to pay with credit or reward points. The bank is testing the program before making it available to a wider number of customers.
Other card companies are trying out even more complicated features, including some cards that work as both credit and debit cards, and cards with anti-fraud measures incorporated into the card. For example, in one card the user must enter a PIN before a part of the account number is revealed.
The miniscule technology could help update the decades old technology behind the magnetic strip found on all of the 1.8 billion cards in the United States. Most of the world has already gone away from the magnetic strips, which were developed in the 1950s, in favor of cards that require a PIN and use a computer chip instead of the magnetic stripe.
Even with the advanced technologies, it’s hard to say how long most consumers will be stuck using their old-fashioned credit cards. Replacements are in the works, such as the ability to pay using a cell phone. Credit card companies and Apple are working on that technology. Experts said it could be a while before one technology becomes standards across all phone companies and retailers.
For now, banks are taking changes. The new cards from Citibank looks just like regular credit cards, but include a battery that will last four year, a computer chip and the buttons, which the company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars developing.
The new credit card technology, developed by Dynamics, is working with Citibank to test its new 2G Cards. Next month Citibank will also begin testing programmable credit cards that will allow users to have multiple accounts on one card.