Are Contactless Credit Cards Safe? And Other FAQs

March 11, 2022
3 min. read

COVID-19 catapulted ecommerce into Filipinos' top of mind. Furthermore, the pandemic expedited the country's adoption of contactless payment methods, integrating it even in small businesses. Among these payment methods are contactless credit cards.

The world has been using contactless cards since 1995. The first one was in Seoul, in the form of a bus card called UPass. Since then, technology has evolved, and from bus cards, there are now contactless credit cards. Other countries have caught on since then, but the Philippines has been slow in adopting them for several reasons, one of which is people's concern over security.

If you're unsure of the safety of using tap-to-pay credit cards, this article will help you understand how they work and the security measures in place that protect you from theft.

What is a contactless credit card?

A contactless credit card is one of the types of credit cards that uses RFID technology to enable you to complete a transaction simply by tapping or hovering the card over a terminal.

A contactless credit card is sometimes called "tap and go" or "tap to pay" contactless payment. This means that it doesn't require you or a cashier to swipe or insert the card in a terminal. The no-touch system is up to ten times faster than other forms of payment.

How do contactless cards work?

The card emits short-range electromagnetic waves from a small chip embedded on the card that contains your credit card information; then, the waves are captured by the point-of-sale system and processed to complete the transaction.

It's also now possible to connect credit cards to devices like smartphones, smartwatches, or fitness trackers, giving you a convenient and alternative form of contactless payment. You can do this by downloading a payment app, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, and allowing it to store your credit card information securely.

This enables you to make a purchase just by tapping your connected device—no need to take your card out from your wallet!

How to use a contactless credit card

It's highly convenient for consumers and businesses to utilize a contactless credit card. What's more, it's easy to use. If you're looking to get one, you should first know how to use a contactless credit card. The first thing is that the merchant or business you're buying from should have a contactless-enabled terminal. This will allow you to make a contactless purchase. From there, it's easy to use the card.

All you have to do is place your card a few inches from the payment terminal. It will only take a few seconds for the transaction to complete, so make sure to look out for an indicator. These signals may be in the form of a beep, a display of a green checkmark, or a flash of green light.

Are contactless cards safe?

It's understandable to be doubtful, especially regarding personal information and money matters. But, yes, contactless cards are safe. There are security measures to ensure that all your personal information remains confidential and that you won't suffer from double payments or theft.

•One-Time Code
Every transaction generates a one-time security code that protects your information. This code is transmitted with your account number during payment, but your personal information such as name, billing address, and card verification code (CVC) is not.

Even if someone could obtain your payment information, it would be almost impossible to complete a transaction without the card or your other info. Additionally, the one-time code makes contactless credit cards safer than magnetic stripe technology because when you swipe a magnetic stripe, a skimming device can collect both your payment and personal information.

You also don't have to be scared of accidentally paying for the purchases of someone near you or paying twice. Your card should be only a few inches from the terminal for the transaction to be read and approved, and if you tap twice by mistake, you won't be charged twice.

•Physical Security
The easiest way for a thief to bypass contactless payment technology is to steal your physical credit card. Let's say your credit card was stolen. It would be easy for a thief to tap your card and use it for whatever purpose they see fit. However, credit card companies usually have fraud protection to cover any dubious payments made with a stolen credit card.

Contact your card issuer immediately if your credit card is stolen or notice any fraudulent activity.

Other contactless credit card FAQs

1. Is it possible to be accidentally charged when I pass by a payment terminal/reader or when I’m near it?
It’s unlikely to make a contactless purchase just by passing by the terminal. The contactless card must be within inches of the terminal, which means you need to be holding it close to the reader.

2. How do I know if my credit card is contactless?
Contactless cards have a wave-like symbol, like the Wi-Fi symbol rotated to the right, on the front of the card, noting that it's also contactless.

3. How close does my contactless credit card need to be to the reader?
Contactless credit cards don't necessarily have to touch the card terminal. The terminal can read your card and process that payment from one to two inches away. Just be sure to check for signs that the payment is complete.

Should you get a contactless credit card?

As COVID-19 implemented stricter "no-touch" payment for business, contactless credit cards are worth considering now. Not only are they convenient for both companies and consumers, but they're also secure and efficient.

If you're looking to apply for or switch credit cards, check out RCBC's different types of credit cards to amp up your buying experience!

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