How do I know if my card is contactless?

The digital era has transformed the way we make payments. With the rise in technological advancements, contactless payments have become a popular choice for many Americans. The ongoing health concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic have only accelerated this trend. If you’ve ever wondered whether your card is contactless and how to utilize it, this guide is for you.

How to Know if Your Card is Contactless?

Contactless cards come with a distinct symbol that differentiates them from traditional credit or debit cards. Here’s how you can spot it.

Contactless Symbol on Card

If you wish to determine the contactless capability of your card, look for the ‘contactless symbol‘ – a sequence of four curved lines that progressively increase in size, reminiscent of the Wi-Fi symbol. Generally, this symbol is located either on the front or back of your card. A few examples of establishments that support contactless payments include popular retailers like Costco and Target.

If, however, your card does not have this symbol, you can contact your card issuer to inquire about getting a contactless card or to understand other available options.

How Do Contactless Credit and Debit Cards Work?

Contactless cards utilize RFID technology that facilitates communication between the card and the card reader when they are in close proximity. Apart from this, these cards also come equipped with an EMV chip, a magnetic stripe, and standard credit or debit card information. This multifunctionality ensures that even if a store does not support contactless payments, you can still either swipe or use the chip feature.

When executing a contactless payment, the card securely authenticates your details. The merchant’s system then sends this information to your card issuer for transaction analysis and approval. Though this may seem like a lengthy process, it’s impressively swift, making contactless payments faster than both cash transactions and chip card insertions.

How to Use a Contactless Card?

For businesses, it’s essential to have contactless-enabled terminals to facilitate such transactions. Here’s a step-by-step guide for processing a contactless payment:

  • Check for the contactless symbol on the customer’s card.
  • When the payment system prompts, ask the customer to hold their card a couple of inches away from the reader. If you’re using Square, look for the green light, indicating readiness.
  • Upon successful payment, a confirmation will be displayed. Square users will notice four green lights accompanied by a beep.

Note: Square users who don’t see the green light might need to re-activate Apple Pay and contactless payment options in the app.

Advantages of Contactless Payments

SpeedTransactions can be completed within 15 seconds, enhancing customer experience and potentially boosting sales.
SecurityBuilt-in protection ensures unique transaction numbers and protects against unauthorized large purchases.
EffortlessNFC technology allows for diverse payment options, including phones and smart accessories.
Improved Customer ExperienceFaster transactions can lead to increased sales and enhanced overall shopping experience.
Benefits for BanksBy offering contactless options, banks can differentiate from competitors and potentially increase revenues.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How do I activate contactless payment on my card?

A customer can execute electronic payments by merely waving the contactless card close to the PoS terminal, thus ensuring the card remains with the user. According to the SBI website, for transactions up to Rs 5000, there’s no need for a PIN when using an NFC-enabled card at an NFC terminal. However, there’s a limit to such five contactless transactions per day without a PIN. It’s essential to be aware that cards unused for the last 12 months cannot be used for international, e-commerce, or contactless transactions. To activate contactless features on an SBI card, an SMS activation might be required.

2. Can contactless cards be scanned in your pocket?

A common myth suggests that fraudsters can access card information in crowded areas using NFC readers. However, the reality is different. It is impossible to clone or gather sufficient data from a contactless card for online purchases using concealed readers. Authentic POS systems provided by banks are the only means to genuinely interact with these cards.

3. How many times can you use contactless in a day?

There’s no daily limit to contactless payments. Occasionally, for security reasons, you might be prompted to enter your PIN during transactions. This periodic check is in line with EU regulations aiming to prevent fraud. When using a new card, a one-time PIN verification in-store might be needed. Each contactless transaction has a cap of £100, and the card account should have sufficient funds.


Contactless payments have revolutionized the transaction experience, offering speed, security, and convenience. Whether you’re a business owner or a consumer, embracing this technology can simplify your financial transactions and provide an enhanced shopping experience.


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