Friday 5 August 2016

Finance Fridays – How safe are Contactless cards?

Welcome to this week's Finance Fridays. Last week we were looking at hidden airline charges. We have our feet firmly on the ground for this week's topic of Contactless payment cards. More and more of us are finding that our new credit and debit cards are being issued with the four waves symbol that means it is able to be used to make purchases without entering the four digit PIN. It's certainly a convenient way of paying and saves a few seconds at the the checkout but how safe is it?

What are Contactless cards? - Contactless credit and debit cards are payment cards which you can use by simply tapping the card payment machine with the card instead of pushing the card in and entering the four digit PIN. You can also use them on other payment readers such as on Transport for London trains, tubes and buses where there is an Oyster card reader.

You can tell if your card is Contactless as it will have the Contactless symbol on it. Most new cards that are provided by banks and other providers will now be Contactless without you requesting one.

What is the limit? - The original limit was £20 but this has now gone up to £30 per transaction. You can't use them at ATMs to take out money or for getting cashback.

How secure are they? - Card providers say you are '100%' protected against fraud in the same way as if you used the Chip and PIN method. Every so often you may be asked to put your PIN to confirm your identity. Although you may think it's convenient to let someone you trust use your card to make a payment on your behalf they could be caught out and put in a very difficult position if they are found using a card that isn't theirs. You should never give your card or any of its PIN details to anyone else. Sometimes a retailer may ask to take your card off you to put in their machine. This can often be the case in pubs and restaurants. Never let them do this. They could easily put in another payment which you may not notice and miss on your statement. Another risk is your card could be cloned – this applies whether your card is Contactless or just Chip and PIN.

Of course the main concern is that if your card is stolen from you the thief will go from shop to shop buying purchases that you will be accountable for. If there is a sudden spree of spending then a Chip and PIN transaction will be asked for.

If you have more than one card that is Contactless always make sure you take the right one out of your purse or wallet in order to pay. You shouldn't be charged twice for the same transaction but you could end up being charged on the wrong card. This has been a particular concern for travellers who do use Oyster cards on the London Transport system.

One of the concerns about Contactless cards is that if you walk past a terminal you could end up paying for someone else's shopping. The Contactless card needs to be within a couple of centimetres of the terminal and further a period longer than half a second.

Can I request a non-contactless card? - Yes your card provider should be able to send you a non-Contactless replacement card. Some people feel they are still more secure and in control with a simple Chip and PIN card. There have also been concerns that it makes it too quick and easy for people to spend money and can lead to overspending. Contact your card provider if you want a different card.

Do you have Contactless payment cards? Do you prefer them to Chip and PIN?

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Finance Fridays

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  1. I love my contactless card, it's so quick and easy especially when I have my hands full and the kids are pulling me out the door!

  2. I have just got my first contactless card - so quick and easy - feels a bit strange tho!

  3. I love my contactless card but can see the danger in it


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