A Case for Paying With Your Phone

Thanks to “contactless” payment systems, there’s a revolutionary change going on in how credit cards are used. While mildly convenient for purchases in the United States, the technology is a huge improvement for overseas travelers.

What is contactless technology and why is it good for travel? Read on.

Instead of swiping your credit card, or inserting its chip to complete the payment process, contactless technology lets you make a purchase by placing or hovering your card or phone near a payment terminal, a.k.a. the credit card machine.

While some recently issued credit cards have this ability built in, the real improvement, particularly while traveling, is using contactless payments on your mobile phone. A digital wallet like Apple PayGoogle Pay or Samsung Pay securely stores your credit card details, and to purchase something, you merely unlock your phone and tap it to the pay terminal. Often getting your phone close is enough: In most cases you don’t even need to open an app.

Most Apple and Android phones from the last few years have the ability to make contactless payments. Smartwatches and many new fitness trackers can also be used. Your credit cards will function exactly as they would normally; the digital wallet is merely card storage and a facilitator of payments. (And using a digital wallet is free.)

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