Contactless Payment Cards: A Quicker Way to Pay

Payment is being speeded up at many busy retail locations. Instead of fumbling with cash and change, customers simply wave their specially equipped plastic cards in front of a reading device. No need to hand over the card or swipe it through a card reader. No need to sign for purchases less than $25.

These new contactless payment cards work because of a computer chip inside them that responds to radio waves from the card reader. Merchants need to install these new card readers. At the register, the symbol to look for is a series of four small waves in a row, getting larger from left to right. Look for it at places you frequent, such as fast-food restaurants, drug stores, gas stations, vending machines, convenience stores, sports arenas, movie theaters, and transit systems. The more you see the four waves, the more sense the new card makes for you.

Most contactless payment cards have been issued in large cities and merchants that accept them are concentrated there, but some merchants are installing readers nationwide. The cards also work the traditional way, so you won't be limited in the places you can use it.

Contactless payment cards are officially called "contactless" cards, but each card issuer is free to create a name. Examples include "payWave," "PayPass," and "ExpressPass." Be assured that all brands of contactless cards work the same, no matter what the name.

One note of caution is that the convenience of contactless cards could mean you might spend a little more than you would with cash. Enjoy the convenience but watch the total.

Contact Harvard University Credit Union today at 617-495-4460 for information about our contactless card.