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Contactless cards: would you opt out of having one?

contactless payment card

Contactless debit and credit cards are fast becoming the default payment method for purchases under £30 across the UK, with spending on them having tripled to £25bn last year. But are you happy using them?

Fears about fraudsters using mobile card readers to ‘lift’ sensitive financial details from our wallets have been lurking ever since contactless cards were introduced.

It’s even led to some people buying specially designed protective wallets, or stuffing their existing wallets with foil, to protect themselves.

We don’t think these steps are essential, but there are certainly a number of flaws with contactless cards that appear to put users at greater risk of fraud.

For starters, in an investigation we carried out late last year, our researchers managed to spend over £200 on contactless cards without ever being asked for a Pin.

It’s also emerged that contactless cards can often be used months after they’ve been reported lost or stolen. And most banks often don’t tell customers when their cancelled card is used, relying on them to identify fraudulent payments themselves.

As Michael says:

‘We’re now told that contactless cards can be used for up to three months after cancellation. Banks must have known that, but didn’t let on, and should be liable for all transactions after a card is cancelled.’

No choice

In spite of these flaws, some banks appear to be forcing contactless cards on their customers.

Of the 16 credit and debit card providers, we investigated last year, all of them sent contactless cards to new customers by default.

Five of them wouldn’t allow customers, like Jane, to opt out of receiving them.

‘On my previous renewal I got a regular card and credit card after complaining that I did not want contactless cards. However, on 30 January, my MasterCard was due for renewal and came contactless. My bank apologised but said there was nothing they could do… I feel I’m being forced to find another provider, despite being a customer for many, many years.’

Unacceptable situation?

Now, a group of MPs has told banks that customers should always be given the option to say no to contactless cards if they wish.

The Commons Treasury select committee also accused banks of putting customers in an ‘unacceptable situation’ of being vulnerable to security flaws when using contactless cards, and called for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to help enforce stricter security to prevent fraud.

For its part, the FCA claims to be working on reducing the likelihood of ‘post-cancellation fraud’, but does this go far enough?

Would you opt out of using contactless cards, if given the chance? If so, what would it take for you to embrace this new technology? Or are you happy with your contactless cards?


I have used a contactless debit card for a couple of years and have started using a new contactless credit card. I always keep my receipts. I was wary to start with but have had no problems.

An advantage of a contactless card is that it is instant, eliminating the possibility that the card is left in the reader after entering the PIN. It also eliminates the possibility that the user could be seen entering their PIN.

I hope that Which? will push for the banks to give customers the choice of non-contactless cards.

I have had contactless cards for some time but never used them in that mode. Very few of my purchases are for less than £30, and for those that are I prefer to use cash.

I have noticed that many shops that do low value trades [W H Smith, Tesco Express, Sainsbury’s Local, etc] will not give receipts unless requested to do so.

I would opt for a non-contact card and would expect a choice. If they wish they could provide a pre-loaded contact card where I limit my risk to say £200,300 or X pounds. Re-loading it would need to be by a very secure method and then I would be comfortable with the option.

If the card were cloned I still have a limited exposure and the Bank would of course reimburse me as thye say the system is safe!

Having a contactless card directly linked to an account which may be taken overdrawn, or above a limit and resulted in bounced payments and charges I think is foolish.

Bear in mind Banks are not cuddly friends but businesses who are trying to make the most money out of you by controlling the payment systems you increasingly use. The scanned cheque idea is not for your convenience and speed of transaction it is to save them the cost of sorting them and sending them to the Branch for checking they are in date and properly signed and made out.

Shortly they will find this system is used fraudulently and abolish cheques. Some consumer body really needs to bottom out what the Banks are really doing and how far are they tilting the systems to their own ends.

I seem to pay contactless quite often now and not always by choice. A handset gets waved near my card with a ‘Have you got contactless? Oh yes’. And hey presto! I have paid.

I do think receipts should always be given to the customer though. It should be the responsibility of the sales person to ensure the receipt is given to ensure the right person has been charged the right amount.

The “old” system didn’t take much effort and didn’t really need updating. There is a lot of rumour about cards being read in pockets and in close proximity to a reader without touching it. No one has categorically ruled these things out as impossible so we are left to wonder at the truth. An oyster or similar card is specific to one form of purchase and I would use these in London. The others have been given to me without the option of refusal and I find that unacceptable. I have protection round the ones I have and I avoid using them without putting them into the reader first.

I can remember asking several times for a non contactless card and being told no problem, yet they still sent me one. And when I rang up to complain was told sorry sir that’s all we do. In my book they’re a security nightmare. And that stance was well in force before hearing cards can still be used after being cancelled. Banks don’t know how to do security.

Had Which? objected when the first bank offered a contactless card with no non-contactless alternative, it could have been a quick win. Now we are left with most bank offering contactless cards by default and few offering non-contactless cards on request.

The trouble is that Which? is easily taken in by any novelty. It’s a generational thing I suppose. Far from being the fruits of experience, reservations are seen as reactionary.

I expect that Which? would come in for a bit of criticism if they did not keep us up to date on developments.

So far I have not had any problem using a contactless card and being wary, I have checked my each entry on my statement. On the other hand, I’m not prepared to use my phone for any financial transaction. To be honest, I have no idea of the relative risks of using a contactless card and phone payments.

Hardly a novelty. Go in a city centre Pret a Manger at lunchtime and watch how many pay cash for their sandwich.

Cath says:
9 April 2017

I was sent contactless enabled cards for two accounts. I used them for a couple of months, then contacted the two Banks, and asked for new cards, which weren’t contactless enabled.
I do feel safer using these, to be honest.
I had no problems with either Banks, with this request, and received the new cards a few days later.

Would be nice to know which banks will still do NOT ENABLED by default – Lloyds used to be so until enabled, but now enabled is the default.

I personally am much happier using Apple Pay as my contactless payment method, as this requires fingerprint authentication. I don’t have a standalone contactless card, and given the choice would avoid having one – it just one less risk.


Some retailers such as TFL exclusively use contactless. I carry 2 contactless cards which apparently increase security. I used Paypal once at a Shell garage and it screwed up and I had to pay by card anyway and I was deprived of access to about 370 of funds for a week! So I won’t be using Paypal again at Point-of-Sale!

With my main contactless card, I can check my account instantly to confirm the transaction so a rogue payment can be challenged immediately and the card can’t be left in the reader by accident.

I always insist on the retailer processing my payment using my chip and pin, if the card is lost or stolen anyone can go on a shopping spree spending £30.00 each time without your pin number and in a few hours your bank account could be wiped out.

The crooks buy items they can easily resell to get cash and once the card stops working they just throw it away.

It may be quick and easy to wave your card over the card reader but I suggest you use cash for a small purchase it’s just as quick and also the retailer does not have the costs incurred for processing cards which will help him to stay in business while keeping down prices.

The retailer has the cost of processing cash instead. The banks charge both to pay it in and for change.

I was sent a contactless debit card by default by my bank but I have never used it. I’m currently abroad but once I’m home for good I will ask them from a non-contactless card as I don’t want one, it will be interesting to see if they grant my request.

I don’t like this relentless cashless push that seems to be orchestrating the elimination of cash altogether, I use cash for nearly all purchases (including large payments) and I find it much easier to keep control of my finances. There is a correlation between rising debt and card payments. I gather that contactless payments don’t show up on a statement even as pending payments for about 3 days and if retailers are commonly not giving receipts, how can you keep track of your balance? If your card is stolen, contactless payments can also not be blocked immediately. You get your money back eventually but it takes time, so what if you’re close to the edge and about £200 is stolen, could you pay your essential bills and have money for food?

My contactless payments are often visible on-line by the time I get back from the shops, even on a Sunday. There is no three day delay.

Well the Banks would love everyone to use contactless, because they get a cut every time. And would abolish cash tomorrow if they could, as it costs them a fortune to process. Seems a good reason to keep using cash to me! But despite all the harumphing on forums like this contactless isn’t going away. Go in any London pub at 6PM and observe how little cash goes over the counter. And TfL will ditch Oyster as soon as they decently can. When that happens no contactless means no ride.

We would pay more to NOT have a contactless card account but all banks seem to be the same. Obvously the customer is not always right

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Thanks, Duncan. I am glad that you contained yourself by not revealing this appalling development prematurely – it’s truly horrific in its implications. I am just so glad I was not born in the USA and I am starting to feel sorry for my friends who live there.

@joe-elvin – Please could you ask for this page to be updated to mention whether or not consumer rights are affected if they wish to make a chargeback claim: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-do-i-use-chargeback

Hi Wavechange, I’m really sorry for not getting back to you sooner. Just to be clear, would you like us to ask the consumer rights team to update the chargeback page with information on rights when claiming back unauthorised transactions made on contactless cards?

Hi @ldeitz – Sorry for not responding to your post. I would appreciate this information added to page. I have never made a claim and it’s thanks to one of our contributors that I learned that it is possible to make claims where a payment is less than £100.

I am now using a contactless credit card routinely, but keep my receipts and carefully check my statement. Some have more confidence and don’t bother with taking receipts.

When I was in Morrisons recently, something went wrong and no receipt appeared. I confirmed that I would like a receipt and despite his efforts, the checkout operator failed to produce one and could not even tell me the amount of the transaction. I think it was £18.74 and will check my statement in due course. I assume that retailers are legally obliged to provide receipts. Tesco filling station was always happy to provide a handwritten receipt when their ‘pay at the pump’ machine failed to provide a receipt.

Kaz says:
20 July 2017

I don’t use contactless, I returned my card to the bank, much to their annoyance.

Sue Williams says:
21 July 2017

I have a contactless card for a new account. I did not want it and I do not use it as one. Since they sent me a pin I always use it, the same as my other card. Perhaps I should contact my bank, as I thought it had to be registered as contactless to prevent anyone else using it. Thanks for this reminder.

I have current accounts with Nationwide Building Society and Tesco Bank. I didn’t know until last week that you could opt out, so I Googled about the providers I’m with.

Nationwide automatically issue Contactless, and allow you to opt out only after you’ve opened an account/switched, and there was no problem with me opting out. In fact, they were very understanding about my concerns of financial security in the event of losing my card or it being stolen, and the implications of the Contactless technology still being live for up to two years after cancellation. Google researched told me that 5,400 customers had opted out of Contactless by August 2015, so it must have risen even more by now.

Tesco Bank, however, do not allow opt-outs for Contactless, and are automatically issued. It is a secondary current account for me, but I still carry the card on me regardless, and I don’t like it being Contactless.

Thankfully, my Santander credit cards were not updated with Contactless last year when new cards came through.

Long live cash and cheques, I say! And the Passbook. (And I’m in my 20s).

stephanie ackroyd says:
30 July 2017

I hate my contactless debit card & i think customers should have the option ..i dont use it at all