HomeFITNESSContactless cards: how do they work?

Contactless cards: how do they work?

Clarify here all your doubts about contactless cards, a technology that still arouses distrust in its users.

despite the contactless service on cards payment method is no longer a novelty in Portugal, it still continues to raise some doubts among its users.

There are more and more customers making payments via contactless, which led Banco de Portugal to once again issue some explanations on how this technology works. Find out everything about contactless cards here to better clarify your doubts.

This type of payment card uses contactless reading technology. This functionality allows payment operations to be carried out by approaching the card to an automatic payment terminal (APT) that is already prepared to receive payments of this type, which means that the card user does not have the trouble to enter the code PIN when making a purchase.

Which cards can have this feature?

Proximity reading technology can be inserted into debit, credit and prepaid cards, and is sometimes also available on mobile devices, such as smartwatches and smartphones.

How to know if a card has contactless service?

There are many customers in Portugal who already have contactless service on their payment cards, but they don’t know how to identify it or have never noticed it carefully.

To find out if you have a contactless card, you should check if it has the contactless symbol on the right side, a design with several waves in sequence, like a radar signal.

How to identify a TPA that accepts contactless cards?

To find out if an automatic payment terminal accepts contactless cards, you have to find the contactless symbol on that terminal, the same as the one on the card.

However, these cards can also be used to make payments at a POS that does not have a contactless service. To do this, simply insert the card into the machine and enter the PIN code, as with a regular card.

When is contactless technology activated on cards?

The contactless service on the cards is only activated after using them for the first time at an automatic teller machine, where the PIN code must be entered.

There are also situations in which this technology is activated on the card by making a first payment via POS, in which case the secret code or PIN associated with the card must also be entered, as in the first situation.

What is the daily limit for contactless payments?

Since contactless cards allow payment for a purchase to be made just by bringing the card to the POS, without having to enter a PIN code, there is an established daily value for making purchases with this type of card.

According to the Bank Customer Portal:

  • Each contactless payment cannot exceed the maximum amount allowed, which is 50 euros??
  • There is a limit to the amount of consecutive payments you can make without entering your PIN. This limit is also defined by the entity that issued the card and must be a maximum of 150 euros or 5 consecutive contactless transactions.

If you reach the limit of consecutive transactions without entering the PIN (150 euros or 5 transactions), you will only be able to use this service again after carrying out a new operation (at a POS or at an ATM) with insertion of the PIN.

This security measure thus serves to prevent theft of high amounts.if someone steals your contactless card and makes a purchase with it.

Banco de Portugal advises you to find out from the entity that issued your card about the applicable limits, as these are defined by those entities. Although most of them impose the maximum limit mentioned.

Financial institutions issuing contactless cards are required by law to guarantee the security of these cards and their terminals. It is up to the cardholder to quickly report any problem detected to the institution where he purchased his card.

From the moment this communication has been made, the holder ceases to have any responsibility for possible misuse.

There are some contactless credit cards that have a insurance against fraudulent use?? Before becoming the holder of one, check with the bank where you intend to purchase it if it has such insurance, so that you can free yourself from any responsibility in the event of theft.


When approaching a payment terminal, can the card automatically validate a payment?

Do not. Payment will only be made after the merchant has entered the amount in the terminal so that the cardholder can confirm it.

Furthermore, for the contactless functionality to work, the card must be at least 3 centimeters away from the terminal, and for a few seconds.


If I keep the card close to the terminal for some time, is there a risk of double payment?

No, because the readers of these cards only allow one transaction to occur at a time. The terminal only accepts a new payment when the transaction is completed or cancelled.


What should I do if my card is lost or stolen?

As with cards that do not have a contactless service, when a customer loses a contactless card, they must quickly contact the bank that issued that card so that everything is resolved as quickly as possible.


Why am I sometimes asked for my PIN if I haven’t exceeded the amount of 50 euros?

Don’t be surprised if this happens a few times, even if the transaction complies with the defined limits. When asked to insert the card’s PIN code in a transaction made at a contactless POS, please be aware that this is just an additional security measure.


Can I carry out contactless transactions if I am abroad?

If you are going to travel abroad and intend to carry out contactless transactions in the country chosen as your destination, you should find out about the rules applicable in that country.

If you prefer, you can deactivate the contactless functionality of your card whenever you want, by contacting the entity issuing your contactless card.

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