A couple months ago, I noticed that every time I tried to use the card, I would get something like "CHIP MALFUNCTION" and have to try it three times, always getting the same error before a terminal would allow me to to swipe the card's magnetic strip. When it kept happening consistently, I determined there must be something wrong with the chip, started using alternative forms of payment on occasions when I would otherwise have used that card, and requested a replacement from the issuer, who sent one at no currency-cost to me. The new card's chip looks like this:
Curious about what else might be different between the two cards, I compared them closely. I noticed that the new one dropped the text "Not valid without authorized signature" near the signature field. I also noticed the following tiny text in a corner of the old card. The font looks to be a bit under half the size of the already-small font used for printing the customer service phone number.
In that place, the new one says "Exp 10/18" though both of them had the same expiration date printed as the main expiration date on the card, which is not until well after 10/18. I also heard secondhand other people having the same experience, where the chip just stops working. In my case, the time when it stopped working corresponded with this expiration date in small print (and I don't know for the others).
Does this small-print expiration date reflect the expiration of the chip? If so, why do the card chips expire so much earlier than the expiration dates printed on the card? Alternatively, was there a technology change that required the new style of chip design?
In either of those cases, why do card issuers not automatically send replacements (when they can see the cards are in regular use)?