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Mastercard PayPass

Make fast and secure payments without entering your PIN.

Mastercard PayPass is a popular new technology that allows you to tap your card on a contactless payment terminal to complete a purchase, rather than inserting or swiping your card and entering a PIN. Here’s how this technology works and which Mastercard credit cards offer this feature.

Compare Mastercard credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.74% to 23.74% variable)

Best of Finder 2021

An impressive 21 months intro APR on balance transfers and purchases, as well as no annual fee make this one of the top 0% APR cards available.
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
1.5% cash back on all purchases
26.99% variable
Get unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no limit on how much you can earn, and no changing categories.
Citi Simplicity® Card
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
With an intro APR of 21 months, this card has one of the longest balance transfer offers on the market. Plus, no late fees and no annual fee.

Compare up to 4 providers

How does Mastercard PayPass work?

Contactless payment technology is quite simple:

  1. Make a purchase at a merchant that has a Mastercard PayPass contactless terminal.
  2. Hold your card within 4 cm of the terminal to approve the purchase.
  3. Wait for the green light and a beep indicating your purchase has been approved.

Mastercard PayPass

Mastercard PayPass does come with a caveat: if the purchase is over $100, you’ll need to enter your PIN after tapping the terminal.

Contactless payments use an embedded computer chip and radio frequency antenna to communicate with the contactless terminal card reader. Each contactless payment generates a unique code so you won’t be charged double for contactless payments if you accidentally tap your card on the reader twice.

To make things even easier, you may also be issued with a Mastercard PayPass key fob or payment tag. The small plastic fob or tag contains the same contactless computer chip and radio frequency antenna as your regular credit card.

Finally, many issuers allow you to make contactless payments with your mobile device. This means that not only do you not have to enter your PIN, you might not even have to use your card to make purchases.

Is it safe to use Mastercard PayPass?

There are some pros and cons using contactless payments but they are just as safe as any other transaction. The following security procedures and policies are in place to make sure your PayPass contactless payments are protected:

  • No accidental payments. As you need to hold the card within an inch or so of the terminal, there is little chance that an accidental payment will be made using your card as you walk by a terminal that is enabled to accept contactless payments.
  • Encryption technology. Each purchase generates a unique encryption code which ensures that you’ll only be charged once, even if you accidentally tap your card against the terminal twice or if you don’t hold your card on the reader long enough and you’re asked to tap it again.
  • Mastercard Zero Liability guarantee. If your card has been lost or stolen, you should contact your card issuer immediately to either freeze or cancel the card. If your card has been stolen and used for unauthorized transactions, you’ll be protected by Mastercard’s Zero Liability guarantee and will be reimbursed for any fraudulent transactions.

Bottom line

Mastercard PayPass is a simple, convenient and secure way to make contactless payments using your credit card. While using your card for contactless payments is mostly safe, it’s important you use it wisely and store it safely to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

Learn about some common credit card frauds and scams so you can stay protected.

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    HudsonNovember 24, 2019

    Is a PayPass fob from Citi unused for 10 years still valid? At what URL does Citi allow input of the fob ID number to be entered to update or reactivate fobs?

      Default Gravatar
      nikkiangcoNovember 25, 2019

      Hi Hudson,

      Thanks for your message! The Citibank PayPass feature was discontinued on all products (excluding Costco) in July 2016. It has largely been replaced by features such as Apple pay and Samsung Pay.

      I hope this helps and feel free to reach out to us again for further assistance.


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