Contactless Cards: What You Need to Know

When you pay on card do you find yourself thinking, “Gosh, there are a million other things I could be doing with these two minutes! If only there was a way I could pay with my card in less than ten seconds?” No? Well, ok, perhaps nobody was really calling for a quicker way to pay with a card but nevertheless we have one – ladies and gentlemen, presenting the contactless payment revolution.

What is contactless?

The contactless function allows you pay for things with your card without entering a PIN or signing a receipt. You simply have to swipe your card over the card reader and the payment will be made. Payments of up to £20 can be made with contactless cards.

All major card providers have now started issuing contactless debit and credit cards.

Is my card contactless?

If your card has been recently issued then the chances are it’s contactless but there’s an easy way to tell. Contactless cards have a specific logo on the front of them, made up of four curved lines increasing in size from left to right.

How do I use a contactless card?

You can only use your contactless card in shops or outlets that have contactless card readers. You’ll know when this is the case because the contactless logo will be displayed somewhere inside, usually near where you pay. The cashier or sales assistant will tell you when to swipe your card across the reader and voila, it’s as easy as that.

Where can I use my contactless card?

Not all shops and outlets accept contactless cards – although they should do soon – but according to the UK Cards Association the following high street names and brands do:

  • McDonalds
  • Pret a Manger
  • Caffe Nero
  • Little Chef
  • Subway
  • Eat
  • Spar
  • Tesco
  • Boots
  • Stagecoach
  • National Trust
  • Clintons
  • Ikea
  • PayPoint

What’s good about having a contactless card?

Well while the general public may not have been crying out for a quicker way to pay by card, it is quite handy to have one. Flashing your card saves faffing about with your PIN and knowing there is a £20 limit adds an element of security.

By making it quicker to pay, contactless cards also help to reduce queues and, since they’re designed for paying small amounts, you don’t feel bad paying on card for a can of Coke or a packet of chewing gum.

What’s not?

The main issues surrounding contactless cards stem from the fact they are so new.

Not all shops have contactless card readers for example. And, of those that do, not all the staff know how to use them.

And then there are the common technical faults. You’ve hit the jackpot, you’re in a shop that accepts contactless and you have a sales assistant who knows what it is! Only, after several attempts at flashing your card over the reader without it being read, you have to admit defeat and put your pin in anyway.