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How do I get a Visa contactless card?

As the introduction of contactless picks up speed, different banks will typically upgrade certain types of Visa card, so you could automatically receive a new Visa contactless card, or be given the option to receive one. This could happen at any time, but it is most likely to happen when your existing card expires.

Some banks may choose to introduce new types of Visa card which feature contactless. If so, you can apply for one of these new cards in the same way that you would apply for any other Visa card.

If you want contactless, you should ask your existing bank about its plans, or keep an eye on the press for a Visa card that you could apply for.

How do I use my Visa contactless card?

Look, Touch and Confirm

Where can I use my Visa contactless card?

There are more than one million places where you can use your Visa contactless card in Europe 280,000 of which are in the UK. That includes retailers like M&S, McDonald’s, Starbucks, WHSmiths, Post Office, EAT, Pret A Manger and The Co-operative Food as well as many pubs and bars, and across all of the Transport for London travel network including London Underground and London buses. For more information on where to use your card see Where to use it.

How secure is a Visa contactless payment?

Very secure indeed, and certainly much more secure than carrying cash. Visa contactless cards use the same secure technology as Chip and PIN so you can feel totally confident when you’re using it to pay. There is a maximum amount of £30 allowed per transaction and, from time to time, you will be asked to enter your PIN to verify you are the genuine cardholder.

Our technology uses the chip on your card to generate unique cryptograms (that’s techie speak for a type of puzzle that consists of a short piece of encrypted or encoded text) and digital signatures to protect your payments. Digital signatures are like handwritten signatures in some ways – but they are much more difficult to forge.

If your card is lost or stolen, you’re protected against fraud loss – providing you take reasonable precautions to protect your card and let your bank know as soon as you realise it's gone.

How are Visa contactless cards protected from the threat of fraud?

Every Visa contactless card contains a highly sophisticated, highly secure chip. This chip performs a wide range of functions to maintain the card’s security, and is able to interact securely with a contactless terminal.

For a transaction to take place, a Visa contactless card must interact with a Visa contactless acceptance terminal. To do this, it uses private or secret keys to generate one-time-only electronic signatures and cryptograms. That makes it just as a secure as a normal Chip transaction, where you also enter your PIN.

What if I walk by or brush against a contactless terminal? Could I accidentally pay for someone else’s shopping?

No. First of all, the card needs to be very close to the terminal (always less than ten centimetres and usually less than two centimetres) – so generally a touch of the card above the terminal is required to make the payment.

Also, in a typical transaction, the sales assistant has to enter the amount for you to approve first, and then your card has to be held within a couple of centimetres of the terminal for longer than half a second.

What if a Visa contactless card gets lost or stolen? Isn’t it like writing a blank cheque to a fraudster?

No. Although it looks very simple to make a transaction, Visa contactless cards are protected in many different ways.

Each participating contactless bank sets a limit on the number or value of Visa contactless transactions that can be made before a cardholder is asked to do a normal chip and PIN transaction. If you are a regular user of Visa contactless, you may have noticed this happening – as, every now and then, you will be asked to verify your transaction with your PIN to prove that it is you in possession of your card.

And, just like any other Visa transaction, your bank is routinely looking out for any unusual transactions that may show that it is not you using your card. You will get the same level of protection as any other Visa Debit or Visa Credit transaction. And, if your card is lost or stolen, the card will be blocked by your bank instantly.

If your card is lost or stolen you should notify your bank as soon as possible. If anyone has fraudulently used your contactless card to make a payment, providing you take reasonable precautions to protect your card and let your bank know as soon as you realise it’s gone, you will not be responsible for any losses incurred (subject to your bank’s terms and conditions).

Could the data on my Visa contactless card be changed without my knowledge?

No, your data is safe. Only your bank can update or change the data on the card.

If I have two contactless cards, could both of them be read simultaneously?

No. The Visa contactless technology has ‘anti-collision’ features; this means that if two cards are held to a terminal only one payment will be processed.

If the contactless reader detects more than one card, you may be asked to select the one you want to use. Or, in some cases, the entire payment may be cancelled.

If you do have more than one contactless card, it’s always best to present the one you want to pay with to the terminal – and leave the other in your purse or wallet.

What if I want to pay for a London bus fare and I have both an Oyster card and a Visa contactless card?

If an Oyster card and a contactless card are presented simultaneously, the Oyster card will generally take priority and be used for the payment. In some cases, the entire payment may be cancelled.

You can be sure that only one card will ever be charged. But it’s always best to present the card you want to pay with to the reader – and leave any others in your purse or wallet, to make sure that the correct card is recognised.

What if I’m standing next to someone who is paying by contactless? Could my card get charged by mistake?

No. For a payment to take place, your card needs to be very close to the terminal (always less than ten centimetres and usually less than two centimetres). So a payment can really only be made by the person at the front of the queue.

What if I present my card twice by mistake? Could I get charged twice?

No. You can only pay once for any transaction. The terminal will not accept two payments for one purchase – just like if you were using Chip and PIN.

Has card fraud increased since the introduction of Visa contactless cards?

No. Visa contactless cards are very safe indeed. Thanks to the chip and PIN technology (which Visa contactless uses) levels of card fraud have plummeted in the last decade. All of the built-in security features make contactless technology unattractive to fraudsters.

Can a fraudster with a bogus contactless terminal steal money from my card by brushing up against me?

Today’s fraudsters are on the hunt for full card details. The only information that could possibly be read from a contactless card is the card number, the expiry date and in some instances, the cardholder name – the same information that’s available on the front of your card.

On its own this information is simply not useful for today’s fraudsters – who also need to get their hands on the really sensitive information, such as the CVV code (the three digit security code on the back of your card), PIN numbers, Verified by Visa passcodes, card security codes, billing addresses and other hidden security data. None of these essential details can be read from a contactless card.

If I am the victim of contactless card fraud, will I be protected?

You will always be well protected. You get the same level of protection from your bank as you would with any other Visa transaction. And, if your card is lost or stolen, the card will be blocked by your bank as soon as you tell them that it is missing.