Contactless Payment Cards Have Arrived!

Mar 05, 2021
contactless card graphic blog


The Police Credit Union is thrilled to introduce our new contactless payment cards — making your shopping experience faster, easier, more sanitary, and of course, highly secure. You may have already received your contactless debit card, which looks much like our standard EMV chip-embedded card but is embossed with the new  contactless symbol. Frequently referred to as “tap to pay,” this payment technology allows you to complete your purchase within seconds, by simply holding your card near the contactless-enabled payment terminal. With no need to swipe your card or insert it into a card reader, you can reduce touch points during your day and easily maintain physical distance at checkout.

Heightened concerns over hygiene due to the coronavirus have largely spurred the adaption of contactless payments, whether via a smartphone or wearable device, or through use of the technology embedded within a debit or credit card. But given the ease of use and lack of set up required, it’s perhaps not surprising that contactless cards are emerging as the preferred option over mobile wallets among consumers. We’ve provided a few basic facts you may want to know about these cards, so that you can enjoy a more streamlined shopping experience beginning today!

How the technology works: A contactless debit or credit card has a small antenna and computer chip that allows for communication with a card reader using short-range radio signal technology (specifically near-field communication or NFC). When the card is placed within one to two inches of the merchant’s contactless-enabled terminal, it picks up the NFC signal and then transfers a one-time, encrypted payment code to the point-of-sale system. Once the payment is accepted, the terminal may beep, or you’ll see a flashing green light or green check mark. There is no PIN or signature required.

What are its major benefits? Contactless cards allow for faster payments and less hassle, and have been shown to be effective in reducing fraud. They enable you to avoid contact with public surfaces, and save time without having to dip or swipe your card into a card reader, then wait for further instructions. Unlike a mobile wallet on your smartphone, you won’t need to download an app and then unlock your phone and find the app to use it. And as Forbes magazine and The New York Times have highlighted, contactless payments are better suited for overseas travel in places such as Europe and Australia, where the technology has been widely adopted and provides enhanced convenience for public transportation and purchases made at self-service ticket machines.

How do I know that my information is safe? Tap and go payments use data encryption and masking that make it nearly impossible for cyber criminals to obtain your banking information. Instead of transferring your actual card information, your card generates a transaction-specific code, or digital token, which is transmitted to the point-of-sale system. Your name, billing address and card verification code are not exposed. This type of payment is far more secure than swiping your card’s magnetic stripe, a process that could allow your information to be captured by a skimming device.

How do I know if contactless payments are accepted and what if they aren’t? While not every business is equipped for contactless payments, more recent payment terminals accept chip readers, magnetic stripes and contactless payments. Look for the wavelike icon on the terminal. If you don’t see one, you can still dip your card into a card reader for enhanced security, as opposed to swiping your card.

Will I also receive a new contactless credit card? As of March 2021, The Police Credit Union began replacing our standard chip-embedded credit cards with contactless Visa® cards. You will receive the new contactless credit card at the time that your card is scheduled to be renewed. Those who apply for a new credit card will also receive the new contactless card at the time it is issued.

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The Police Credit Union proudly provides banking and loan solutions including checking accounts, credit cards, auto loans and more for police and other law enforcement agencies and their families  in the Bay Area and beyond. Visit us at one of our branches in San Francisco, Pleasanton, San Mateo, San Bruno or Oakland, CA or check if you are eligible for membership and apply online today.

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