This Hidden Feature Makes Credit Cards Easier, Safer to Use

Photo by Monkey Business Images /

Do you have a credit card? The answer almost certainly is yes, so pull it out of your wallet and scan for something that looks like the Wi-Fi symbol you see on laptops and cellphones.

If you find this symbol, your credit card is contactless. That means the next time you make a purchase at a store, you may not have to insert your card into the chip reader. Instead, you can merely wave the plastic in front of the reader.

This is good for two reasons:

  1. When you wave a card, you don’t have to touch the card reader. That means one less chance that you will touch something contaminated with germs that might infect you with the coronavirus.
  2. Waving a card is a much faster way to make a payment than inserting the card into a chip reader, which is also referred to as “dipping” the card.

Taylor Tepper, who writes for Wirecutter, says contactless cards often work well. As he writes:

“My local coffee shop accepts contactless payments, and I’m able to flash my card over the reader and put it back in my wallet in a nanosecond, much more quickly than if I’d dipped it. I was skeptical that shaving a few seconds off my transaction would actually register with me, but it’s nice to not have to stand around, waiting to put your chip card back in your wallet.”

However, the contactless system is not foolproof.

Tepper has had trouble using contactless technology at a local supermarket, and others have voiced similar complaints about the technology’s reliability. Plus, some card readers do not accept contactless cards at this time.

Tepper’s advice is to look for the contactless icon when shopping so you can identify retailers that accept contactless payments. He says:

“Chip readers from Square — the payment processor whose app prompts you to leave a tip when you pay — typically accept them, so start there. You’ll get into the habit of knowing which card to use where, so you can avoid flailing around at the register and get to your next errand slightly faster.”

If your credit card is not contactless, you can ask the issuer or check its website to find out if your particular card is available with contactless technology. If it is, you likely can request a replacement card that is contactless.

JPMorgan Chase, for example, lists all 22 contactless cards that it offers on its website. The company also notes that customers can replace an existing Chase card with a contactless one by visiting the Chase Card Replacement page.

Looking for a new credit card? Stop by the Money Talks News Solutions Center to shop for a credit card with the best features for you.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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