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Contactless Payments – The pros and cons of tap and go

To tap or not to tap? That is the question when using Visa payWave or Mastercard Tap & Go®.

Updated

Fact checked
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the WHO recommends using contactless payments. Credit card networks like Visa, MasterCard and American Express have subsequently increased their contactles pay limit from $100 to $250 per transaction. We will further update this page as more information becomes available.

Visa payWave and Mastercard Tap & Go® are new ways to pay for your everyday purchases without your physical card touching anything. To use this feature, you need to wave your card in front of a contactless debit/credit card terminal and your transaction will be processed. There are no additional steps to complete, like signing a receipt or inputting your PIN to authorize the transaction.

You can only use contactless payment for purchases under $100. You can tap and go for everyday products and services like groceries, gas, clothing and much more.

Compare top credit cards offering contactless payments

Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Supported Contactless Payments Reward
American Express Cobalt Card
19.99%
21.99%
$120
Google Pay,Apple Pay,Samsung Pay
Earn 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent at eligible grocery stores, restaurants, bars, cafés and food delivery services, 2 points per $1 spent at eligible gas stations, and on transit and travel purchases, and 1 point per $1 spent elsewhere.
Earn up to 45,000 bonus Membership Rewards points. In your first year as a new Cobalt Cardmember, earn 2,500 points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 on your card (for a total of 30,000 points in a year). Plus, earn 15,000 points when you spend a total of $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months. Apply by May 5, 2021.
BMO World Elite Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
Google Pay
Get 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible travel, dining and entertainment purchases (up to $50,000 spend annually), and 2 points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases (and once you reach the $50,000 annual spend).
Get up to $575 in value in your first year. Get a bonus of 40,000 BMO Rewards points ($285 travel value booked on bmorewards.com). Plus, get the $150 annual fee waived in the first year.
American Express Aeroplan Card
30% annual interest rate applies to balances not paid in full each month
N/A
$120
Earn 2x the points on eligible purchases made directly with Air Canada and Air Canada vacations, 1.5x the points on eligible dining and food delivery purchases and 1x the points on everything else.
Earn up to 15,000 Welcome Bonus Aeroplan points and a bonus Buddy Pass as a new cardmember.
SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express
19.99%
21.99%
$99
Google Pay,Apple Pay,Samsung Pay
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases
Earn 10% cash back on all eligible purchases (up to $400 in cash back) for the first four months of Cardmembership.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
19.95%
19.95%
$0
Google Pay,Apple Pay,Samsung Pay
Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
Get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening).
Choice Card from American Express
19.99%
23.99%
$0
Earn 1 American Express Membership Point for every $1 you spend on purchases.
Earn 12,500 Bonus Membership Rewards points when you charge $1,250 in purchases to your card within the first 3 months as a new Cardmember. Apply by May 5, 2021.
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
12.99%
12.99%
$20
Google Pay
Take advantage of an introductory balance transfer offer, annual fee waiver in the first year, and low purchase and cash advance interest rates.
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite
20.99%
23.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
Earn x the BMO Points for every $1 spent on groceries, dining in and out, gas and transit.
Get up to 40,000 points and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year. Earn 25,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months and get 15,000 points on your first anniversary.
American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
19.99%
21.99%
$599
Earn 3x the points on eligible purchases made directly with Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations, 2x the points on eligible dining and food delivery purchases in Canada, and 1x the points on everything else.
Earn up to 65,000 Welcome Bonus Aeroplan points and a $100 Statement Credit as a new cardmember.
American Express Business Edge Card
19.99%
21.99%
$99
Google Pay,Apple Pay,Samsung Pay
Earn 3 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible business essentials including office supplies, electronics, rides, gas, eats and drinks (up to an annual earn of 75,000 Membership Rewards), and earn 1 Membership Reward point for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
Earn up to 42,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year. Earn a Welcome Bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend at least $5,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months, and earn 1,000 Membership Rewards points each month (a total of 12,000 annually) when you spend a minimum of $3,000 on eligible purchases
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Compare up to 4 providers

What is Near Field Communication (NFC)?

Near field communication imageNear Field Communication (NFC) is a technology that enables your mobile phone to securely transmit and receive information over a short range, typically requiring a distance of 4cm when making a payment. It is an upgrade of the existing radio-frequency identification (RFID), which combines the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device.

Visa payWave and Tap & Go® have NFC technology that make contactless payments possible. Referred to as “tap and go”, you can then either wave or tap your credit card at a contactless debit/credit machine to pay for products or services without the need to key in your PIN number or signing a receipt.

What are the pros and cons of tap and go?

Pros

  • Convenient, since you only have to “tap and pay” using your credit card or smartphone.
  • No keying in a PIN or signing a receipt.
  • Gives you peace of mind as you are protected against fraudulent transactions.
  • Reduces threat of hackers who scan cards and steal valuable information, since NFC uses data encryption when sending sensitive information.
  • Cost and time efficient for the average consumer.
  • You don’t have to worry about typing errors (such as incorrectly entering your PIN) and the connection is quicker on the contactless terminal.
  • Retailers no longer have access to your credit card information.
  • You’re able to keep track of rewards and use points for your purchases or redeem miles. Some banks even offer cash back and prizes when you use this feature.
  • Convenient and quick checkout payments means shorter wait times in line ups at stores.

Cons

  • Only some businesses have adopted this technology, so it might create confusion or frustration among users.
  • Not all consumers are educated about this technology.
  • Only consumers with smartphones or those with contactless credit cards can use this technology.
  • You may lose your credit card and your account may be compromised.
  • Risk of spyware or malware attacks and other viruses like any computer device in the terminal.
  • You can only make contactless payment purchases of up to $100.

FAQ: I’m a small business owner – should I get a contactless payment system?

If you run a small business, updating your credit/debit terminal to one that offers contactless payments provides your customers with faster and more convenient card processing. However, upgrading could attract additional upfront fees and extra costs for training to get used to the new system. Compare different card payment systems and weigh up the potential benefits versus the costs to decide if this option is right for your business.

Eddit Grobler

Eddie Grobler

  • Eddie is the Divisional President: Mastercard Australasia
  • He was previously SVP at Mastercard Southern Africa

“Contactless is the way to make and accept payments – it’s quicker and more convenient for consumers and allows merchants to accept more payments at peak sales times. It helps reduce the delays caused by queuing or searching for change and, with consumers already noticing the benefits, we believe it will be available across a large number of retailers in the next couple of years.”

Both Visa payWave and Mastercard Tap & Go® contain a technology called NFC, which requires you to hold the card within 4cm of the card reader and carries a unique security code per transaction for fraud protection. It carries the same layers of security as any other Visa or Mastercard chip card and is backed by their respective Zero Liability Policy.

While it’s convenient and efficient to have this payment method in place, a lot of consumers have questioned the security implications of using this technology. However, Mr. Grobler has announced there are plenty of security measures in the place.

“For online purchases, merchants will be required to offer Mastercard SecureCode authentication, or equivalent, for items over $200 and for purchases at the point of sale, we are ensuring that all cards and terminals will be EMV capable.”

“These measures will add an additional layer of security to an already robust system.”

“Trust is at the very core of our business. We want our cardholders to feel safe about using their cards which is why we are continuing to invest in stringent security measures. Between now and 2013, security for online payments will be a primary focus, which is great news for merchants and consumers alike.”

Eddie Grobler image: nfcworld.com

NFC image: nxp.com

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