Money Management: Credit Cards and the Wave Feature

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Credit Cards & The Wave Feature – A Good Thing?

We all love convenience. Our lives are so complicated that when something comes along to make life ‘easier’ – it usually gets a big round of applause. But in the case of the credit card wave feature, there is valid concern that it may not be all good.

The wave or contactless payment feature, enables people to pay with their credit card for items (usually under $50) without signing or keying in. The cards have a RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip that only needs to be waved in front of a special reader at the cashier’s till to complete a purchase. It is easier and faster than paying by cash or using traditional plastic cards.

The wave feature is not new – it has been in use for several years, in Europe and North America.

Most Canadian credit card companies; Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc. offer this feature. It appears that now, when new credit cards are issued – they will most likely contain wave chips.

Easier and only for purchases under $50, what’s the problem?

According to the credit card companies – no problem. In fact, they promote a number of benefits. According to them, it will make it easier to track your smaller purchases and (depending on your plan) qualify you for more ‘points’.

But of real concern – according to a study released in May 2012 by MasterCard Advisors, at the request of MasterCard: on average, in the first year of using the wave feature, people in all levels of income, increased their credit card spending by 30%.

That is right, increased their credit card spending by 30%.

Think about it:

The wave feature may be one more reason to
leave your credit cards at home and pay with cash.

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