Wave and You've Paid
New contactless credit cards add speed and convenience, but what about security?
(MONEY Magazine) – For the past year and a half, credit- and debit-card issuers have been pushing contactless cards, which don't require your signature or PIN for purchases under $25. Instead you wave the card at a sensor at specially equipped vendors, and the transaction is processed. Not interested? You may, in fact, already have one: Some issuers, such as AmEx and Chase, now include the feature on some cards whether you ask for it or not. The contactless cards are faster to use than cash and safer than regular plastic, in part because the info they transmit is encrypted, issuers claim. While a recent study did find that the encryption isn't always sufficient to thwart thieves, you needn't worry: Contactless cards carry the same zero-liability protection as ordinary plastic, so you're off the hook in case of ID theft.
SAVINGS NOTES AND SOURCES: CD and money-market account data as of Jan. 16 from 100 Highest Yields, a publication of Bankrate.com ($124 for 52 issues; 800-327-7717 ext. 11410); all have a minimum investment of $10,000 or less. Average tax-exempt and taxable money-market fund yields for the week ended Jan. 16 from Money Fund Report (imoneynet.com); all have a minimum investment of $10,000 or less and assets of $25 million or more. Average bond fund yields for the month ended Dec. 31 from Lipper; all are medium- and high-quality funds without sales loads and with average maturities of three years or less. ¹Manager absorbed all or some operating expenses. CREDIT NOTES AND SOURCES: All rates subject to change. Credit-card rates are for standard cards as of Jan. 16 from Bankrate.com and are variable unless otherwise indicated. Survey does not include Internet-only cards or AmEx Blue. ¹Fixed rate. ²Visa only. ³Platinum and gold cards.