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What is contactless payment?
Make purchases while limiting contact with payment terminals.
Contactless payments can be a simple and convenient way to pay at stores. They can also be helpful if you’d rather limit physical contact with payment terminals or other surfaces. And there’s almost always no need to sign a receipt or input a PIN to authorize a transaction.
What's in this guide?
- Contactless payment defined
- How do I use contactless payment?
- How to get contactless payment
- Compare credit cards with contactless payment
- Types of contactless payments: PayWave, PayPass and Expresspay
- Contactless payments via mobile wallets
- How does contactless payment work?
- I’m a small business owner. Should I get a contactless payment system?
- Eddie Grobler
- What are other people saying about PayPass and PayWave?
- Bottom line
- Frequently asked questions
Contactless payment defined
Contactless payment is a purchase method that works by holding a debit card, credit card or mobile wallet above a payment terminal. You don’t need to swipe or dip your card — hence “contactless.”
A contactless payment doesn’t require a PIN or signature. However, to combat fraud, issuers or merchants may set a maximum amount per contactless transaction — for example, $30 to $100.
Contactless payments during coronavirus concerns
The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised caution when handling cash, stating that handling money could lead to the transference of germs. Contactless forms of payment can be an alternative to cut down on the transmission of the virus, according to WHO.
Learn more in our news post about WHO recommendations.
How do I use contactless payment?
If you see a wave symbol on your card, you’re all set to start using contactless payments. When you’re checking out at the store, look to see if contactless payments are allowed with this symbol:
Next, take out your contactless credit or debit card and hold it above the symbol.
Or add your card to a mobile wallet — such as Apple Pay or Google Pay. When you’re ready to check out, hold your mobile wallet above the payment terminal and authorize the transaction with biometric authentication, if needed.
Our pick for contactless payment
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressRead more
How to get contactless payment
Two main ways to access contactless payments:
- Get a credit or debit card that’s equipped with contactless technology.
- Add your credit or debit card to a mobile wallet.
For many years, contactless cards were relatively uncommon. But in late 2018 and early 2019, providers began issuing many more cards with contactless technology.
One easy way to tell if a card offers contactless payments is by looking for a wave symbol on the front or back of your card.
Which credit cards have contactless payment?
Chase and American Express offer the most contactless options. Here’s a list of many credit cards that include this technology.
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||Chase|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Chase|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Chase|
|Chase Slate® credit card||Chase|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card||Chase|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card||Chase|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card||Chase|
|United℠ Explorer Card||Chase|
|United℠ TravelBank Card||Chase|
|United MileagePlus® Club card||Chase|
|British Airways Visa Signature® Card||Chase|
|Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Credit Card||Chase|
|Iberia Visa Signature® card||Chase|
|The World of Hyatt Credit Card||Chase|
|Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Card||Chase|
|AARP® Credit Card from Chase||Chase|
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express||American Express|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||American Express|
|American Express® Gold Card||American Express|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||American Express|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card||American Express|
|Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card||American Express|
|Hilton Honors™ Aspire Card||American Express|
|Hilton Honors American Express Card||American Express|
|American Express Cash Magnet® Card||American Express|
|American Express® Business Gold Card||American Express|
|The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card||American Express|
|Amazon Business Prime American Express Card||American Express|
|Amazon Business American Express Card||American Express|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||Capital One|
|Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card||Capital One|
|Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card||Capital One|
|Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card||Capital One|
|Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card||Capital One|
|Citi Rewards+℠ Card||Citi|
|Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi||Citi|
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card||Wells Fargo|
|Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card||Wells Fargo|
|Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card||Wells Fargo|
|Wells Fargo Rewards® Card||Wells Fargo|
|Wells Fargo Platinum Card||Wells Fargo|
|Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card||Wells Fargo|
|Wells Fargo Secured Credit Card||Wells Fargo|
Compare credit cards with contactless payment
Types of contactless payments: PayWave, PayPass and Expresspay
Choose from Visa’s PayWave, Mastercard’s PayPass or American Express’s Expresspay to pay for everyday purchases without your physical card touching anything.
Each features NFC technology that makes contactless payment possible. Sometimes called tap-and-go, you can either wave or tap your credit card at contactless terminals without keying in your PIN or signing a receipt.
What are the pros and cons of PayWave, PayPass and Expresspay?
- Use your card or phone to “tap and pay” without keying in a PIN or signing a receipt.
- Protection against fraudulent transactions provides peace of mind.
- Data encryption reduces the threat of hackers scanning cards and stealing valuable information.
- Fast connection without worry of incorrectly typing in your PIN.
- Retailers no longer have access to your credit card information.
- Track and use points or miles for purchases at retailers and sites. Some banks offer additional cash back and perks with this feature.
- Convenient and quick checkout payments mean faster transactions.
- Technology limited to consumers with smartphones or those with PayWave, PayPass or Expresspay credit cards.
- If you lose your credit card, your account could be compromised.
- Terminal at risk of spyware or malware attacks, as with any other computer device.
- You can’t change or choose the transaction limit enforced by your bank.
Contactless payments via mobile wallets
Add your credit card information to your mobile wallet, then use it for contactless payments without having to pull out your debit or credit card. And because mobile wallets often come with biometric authentication — think fingerprints and face recognition — it’s more difficult for fraudsters to steal your information.
Examples of mobile wallets
Mobile wallets include:
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
- Samsung Pay
- Fitbit Pay
- Garmin Pay
Mobile wallets are often limited by device. Apple Pay works on Apple products only, for example.
How does contactless payment work?
Contactless payments run on near-field communication — or NFC — technology embedded in mobile devices and credit cards.
NFC is a technology that enables your mobile phone to securely transmit and receive information over a short range of about 4 centimeters. It’s an upgrade of existing radio-frequency identification (RFID), which combines the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device.
I’m a small business owner. Should I get a contactless payment system?
Updating your card reader to one that offers contactless payments provides your customers with faster and more convenient card processing.
However, upgrading might require upfront fees and training to get used to the new system. Compare solutions for merchant services and weigh the potential benefits against costs to decide if contactless payments are right for your business.
- Australasia divisional president at Mastercard
- Former SVP at Mastercard Southern Africa
Here’s what Eddie says about PayPass and contactless payments:
- “PayPass is a fast, convenient and safe way to pay for purchases of less than $100 and involves a simple tap of a card against a contactless reader, making it ideal for use when customers would generally use cash.”
- “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.”
Contactless payments are a convenient way to pay for purchases by tapping your credit card or waving your phone. Look for banks that work with Apple Pay or Google Pay to find a card with this technology.
Frequently asked questions
Eddie Grobler image: nfcworld.com
NFC image: nxp.com
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