Family Finances

What Is a Contactless Credit Card/Debit Card & Why You Should Tap and Go

    • circle-one-color.svg
    • FNBO

      May 05 2023

Article | Read time: 2.5 minutes

When using a credit card or debit card for purchases, you’ve likely noticed the options to insert, swipe, or tap. While most of us have become accustomed to ‘inserting’ and ‘swiping,’ tapping, also known as ‘Tap and Go,’ or making a contactless payment, is still a relatively new function. This leaves many consumers with questions about how a contactless credit card or debit cards works and if they are safe to use. This article explains everything you need to know about using contactless payments as a secure, convenient, and touch-free way to pay for things.

What is a contactless payment?

As the name implies, contactless payments do not require any physical contact between a credit card, debit card, or any other device and the checkout terminal/card reader. Contactless payments utilize NFC (near field communication), a type of radio frequency identification (called RFID). NFC transactions take place over a specific radio frequency that enable a card or device to communicate with the payment reader when they are within a few inches of each other.

What is a contactless credit card or debit card?

A contactless credit card/debit card looks and acts much like any other credit or debit card. The main difference is it contains an embedded chip that emits electromagnetic waves that can be read by a contactless-enabled payment terminal/card reader when the card is placed near it.

How do I know if I have a contactless credit card or debit card?

It’s easy to determine if you have a contactless credit card or debit card. If your card is contactless, the front or back of your card will feature the Contactless Symbol, an image with four curved lines on it, similar to a sideways wifi symbol. If you see that symbol, your card can be used to make contactless payment.

How do I use my contactless credit card/debit card to pay for things?

Making a contactless payment with your contactless credit card or debit card is as easy as Look, Tap and Go. When making a purchase, ‘look’ for the Contactless Symbol on the store’s payment terminal/card reader. Then, ‘tap’ your card by holding it flat for 1-2 seconds within a few inches of the Contactless Symbol on the payment terminal/card reader. There are a variety of different terminals in the market so you may have to tap on, above, or below the screen. Once your payment is securely processed, your purchase is complete, and you are free to ‘go.’

Are contactless payments secure?

Contactless credit cards and debit cards are a safe and secure way to pay for things for many reasons. When you choose to ‘tap’ over ‘swipe,’ you avoid the threat of skimmers installed on the device that could steal your financial information from your card’s mag stripe.

Contactless cards utilize trusted EMV Chip technology to generate a one-time, transaction-specific, code that is extremely difficult for a hacker to recreate, making them effective in preventing counterfeit fraud. This code is transmitted with your account number when you “tap” to pay. Your name, billing address, and card verification code aren’t transmitted.

Also, because your card must be placed within two inches of the card reader/terminal for your transaction to take place, you can’t accidentally pay for your items, or anyone else’s. And you will only be billed for your transaction once, even if you accidentally tap twice.

How do I use my electronic device for contactless payments?

If you prefer to use a device such as a smartphone or watch to pay for things, you can still take advantage of contactless payments. Simply load an eligible payment card into your device and when prompted at checkout, hover the device over the payment terminal/card reader the same way you would with a credit/debit card.

If you have questions about contactless credit cards and debt cards, a Personal Banker from FNBO would be happy to answer them. Give us a call today.

Cards are issued by First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO®) pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A., Inc. Visa and Visa Signature are registered trademarks of Visa International Service Association and used under license.

The articles in this blog are for informational purposes only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations. When making decisions about your financial situation, consult a financial professional for advice. Articles are not regularly updated, and information may become outdated.