Bank of America already includes chips on the majority of its credit card programs and is the first major U.S. bank to add the chip technology to debit cards.

Cards with chip technology, which are also referred to as EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa) cards, are embedded with a microprocessor chip that encrypts transaction information. Each time the chip card is used, the transaction data changes, making it more difficult to copy or counterfeit the card.

Many countries outside the U.S. have already adopted EMV chip technology and it is expected to become the security standard for card payments in the U.S. as merchants begin adding chip-enabled terminals over the next year.

"Chip technology is an important tool in increasing card security, and we want our customers to have the best possible experience when using their payment cards," said Titi Cole, retail products and underwriting executive for Bank of America. "The new chip-enabled debit cards will improve security of customers’ transactions when traveling abroad and at home as more U.S. merchants adopt chip technology."

At merchant locations accepting chip transactions, customers will insert the card into the chip-enabled terminal and enter the PIN or signature. The cards include the traditional magnetic stripe so customers will be able to swipe their cards just as they do today if the merchant has not converted to the new technology. The new cards also work at ATMs just as they did before.

Beginning in October, debit cards issued to new customers will automatically include the chip technology. Existing customers will receive chip cards when their existing debit cards are replaced upon expiration or for any other reason.

Bank of America has been adding chips to its consumer, commercial and corporate credit cards in the U.S. since 2012.

"We will continue to be a leader in the protection of our customers’ cards and in the prevention and detection of fraud," added Cole. "We are on track to convert our card portfolio to EMV and expect to have the majority converted by late next year."