Often times, you insert your chip-enabled credit card into merchant terminals to pay. Other times, you still swipe the old fashioned way. But starting soon (if you haven’t started already), you can simply touch your credit card to a terminal to complete a payment. This is known as contactless payments.
What’s contactless you ask? Well it’s technically nothing new. MasterCard introduced contactless cards well over a decade ago, and they’ve grown in popularity across the globe in places like Canada and Europe. The U.S. is about to catch up. More than half of all new credit and debit cards are going to have the contactless feature by the end of the decade, according to ABI Research. Contactless cards are equipped with Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology, meaning that the card has a radio-frequency identification (RFID) antenna that allows it to transmit data over short distances. So if you have a contactless card, you can just tap it on a payment terminal, and your transaction will be completed.
If you’re wondering if contactless technology is safe, the answer is yes. When you use contactless, the information on your card is not transmitted. Instead, a one-time encrypted code is sent to identify the transaction. It’s close to impossible for a fraudster to clone the encryption technology that creates these codes to create a counterfeit of the contactless card. Thus, contactless is safer than swiping because terminals could easily be compromised and send your actual credit card details to a malicious party.
It’s easy to tell whether or not your card has the contactless feature. Somewhere on the front, you will find a symbol that looks like the universal Wi-Fi signal but horizontal. If you see this symbol, then once you’ve activated the card, you’re ready to use the contactless feature with no additional action.
So what cards are supporting contactless payment? Chase currently offers 17 contactless credit cards, including the popular Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve.
If you don’t have these more premium Chase cards, fear not, contactless functionality has also been rolled out to the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited.
The majority of American Express cards come equipped with a contactless chip, including The Platinum Card and the Gold Card. Rounding out the major players, many Capital One cards also support contactless payments but it’s not easy to find which cards are eligible on the Capital One site. We’d recommend giving them a call and clarifying prior to submitting your application.
And of course, with Apple Card being a digital-first credit card, it will support contactless payments through Apple Pay.
So if you’re interested in using the contactless feature, chances are you have a card that offers that capability. Check your card for the sign and if it doesn’t have it, call your credit card company and see if they can ship you a new card with the feature.