A contactless credit card is a credit card equipped with a short-range radio frequency (RF) antenna that allows cardholders to pay by hovering their card near a payment terminal, or “tapping to pay,” without inserting or swiping their card. Contactless credit cards have a small symbol on the front or back of the card, similar to a sideways Wi-Fi symbol, to indicate that they can make contactless payments. Contactless-enabled payment terminals may also have the symbol.
Here’s how to use a contactless credit card:
To pay with a contactless credit card, simply tap the card on the contactless-enabled payment terminal, or hold the card within a few inches of the terminal. The RF antenna then transmits a one-time-use code - called a “token” - which represents and masks the cardholders’ account information while facilitating the transaction.
For this reason, contactless credit card transactions are safer than swiping and just as safe as EMV chip transactions. Contactless cards also make for a much faster transaction than “dipping” an EMV chip.
Here’s how to get a contactless credit card:
If your current credit card isn’t contactless-enabled yet, call the number on the back of your card to see about getting a contactless replacement. Some card issuers have transitioned all of their credit and debit cards to contactless, while others only offer contactless capability on some credit cards.
Contactless credit cards are relatively new in the U.S. Nevertheless, many major credit card companies jumped on the contactless bandwagon by late 2019, including Chase, American Express, Capital One, Wells Fargo, Citibank, U.S. Bank, USAA, Bank of America, Barclays and Discover.
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