Guides

Where can I use contactless credit and debit cards overseas?

Reading time: 5 minutes

In Australia, contactless cards are becoming an increasingly popular way of making payments due to convenience and speed of transaction. In fact, in the year ending 2016, around one-third of all point-of-sale transactions were conducted using contactless cards, according to a Reserve Bank of Australia report.

With such great benefits, it’s got a lot of Australians wondering, “can I use my contactless credit/and or debit card on my international holiday?”

Indonesia (Bali)

How common are contactless payments across the country?

With Indonesia only recently implementing chip technology standards, the country as a whole is fairly behind in terms of advanced payment options. A Kantar TNS study recently showed only nine per cent of Indonesians use mobile payments.

However, EDC machines are on the rise, with secure payment provider Kartuku currently serving 59 service points across 379 cities across Indonesia. CIMB Niaga Wave ‘n Go is one of the only contactless card providers in the country, operating under Visa.

For this reason, paywave from Visa is the most common type of contactless payment. Visitors will find this more prevalent in major tourist areas such as Kutar, Ubud and Seminyak, at restaurants, larger convenience stores and shopping centres. The more rural you go, the less likely you will be to find this form of payment.

Can I use my contactless payment in Bali?

If you have a Visa paywave card, you should find it easy to use in Bali. However, as with any card, it’s important to let your bank know about your holiday plans to avoid suspicious activity risks and potential blocks.

How to stay safe using contactless cards in Bali

Overall, credit card and ATM fraud is a fairly common problem across Indonesia. Visitors are warned to monitor transaction statements and never let cards out of your sight – especially with contactless options. It’s important to note that most debit cards will charge a two to three per cent foreign transaction fee when purchases are made, so costs can soon add up when making small yet regular payments.

United Kingdom

How common are contactless payments across the country?

Due to speed and convenience, contactless card payments accounted for 30 per cent of all retail purchases in the UK in 2017, according to Credit Call. Therefore, it should come at no surprise that there are 491,084 bank-owned terminals available in the UK where contactless cardholders can make a contactless transaction, states data from the UK Cards Association. This makes it extremely easy for overseas visitors to use their own contactless card whilst on holiday to the UK.

Can I use my contactless card in the UK?

As such a widely used payment option, international visitors can use their own contactless card in the UK. Simply look for the contactless symbol to know if it is accepted. Again, depending on your bank, foreign fees may occur, so always check before departing.

It’s also handy to know that contactless cards are widely used on public transport in London. This eliminates the need to purchase an Oyster card, giving visitors more ease when travelling around the city. Nearly all Mastercards are accepted, with Visa hoping to make all cards eligible for this service in the near future.

How to stay safe using contactless cards in the UK

As such a widely used payment option, it’s exceptionally safe to use your contactless card in the UK. However, just like any other country, it’s important to keep your card safe to avoid theft. If someone gets hold of your card, they can spend the maximum amount you have set for your paywave. Whilst your limit may be low, they can soon add up to significant amounts.

United States

How common are contactless payments across the country?

Contactless payments are not common across the US. According to Visa, only 0.6 per cent of payments were made using contactless cards, 34.9 per cent behind the second lowest percentage score (Hong Kong, 35 per cent). This is because the migration to EMV happened much later than other countries, with bankers and analysts blaming sheer volume of card users compared to other countries, and the failing of pilot projects.

Can I use my contactless payment in the US?

While the US have been slow on the uptake of contactless cards, more is being done to get the country up to speed with the rest of the world. Banks are now recognising the need for more efficient payments, with three out of 12 million terminals now full EMV and contactless capable, according to Plug and Play. With this in mind, while visitors may be able to use their contactless card in some areas, in others, they may not. However, if contactless is not available, chip and pin and magnetic strips can still be used.

How to stay safe using contactless cards in the US

To avoid theft or scams, keep your wallet or purse in a safe place at all times – especially when on busy public transport. Crime rates vary around America, but it always pays to be safe than sorry.

Thailand

How common are contactless payments across the country?

Of the South East Asian countries, Thailand is one of the most financially advanced, with debit and credit cards becoming increasingly popular. The growth in point-of-sale terminals is also resulting in a wider acceptance of payment options, with a 68 per cent month to month Visa paywave growth, according to the Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study 2014 survey.

Can I use my contactless payment in Thailand?

With the popularity of Visa paywave cards in Thailand, foreign visitors are able to use their own contactless card fairly easily. However, it’s important to let your bank know about your movements to avoid them classing it as suspicious activity and potentiallly freezing your bank account.

Similarly, Thailand is one of 13 countries where Mastercard Paypass can be used, making it easier than ever to use contactless cards throughout the country. However, it’s important to note that paywave options may not be so prevalent out of the major cities, meaning that visitors should always have cash (baht) on hand to pay for expenses.

How to stay safe using contactless cards in Thailand

When visiting major tourist areas such as temples or bustling city centres, always keep your cards in a secure place, away from prying eyes. Petty theft is common across the country, so always be vigilant to prevent falling victim.

New Zealand

How common are contactless payments across the country?

As a whole, contactless payments are extremely common across New Zealand, with usage standing at 72 per cent in the year ending September 2017, according to Visa. They can be found in all major cities and towns, and even in smaller, more rural area.

Can I use my contactless payment in New Zealand?

If you see the contactless symbol, you should be free to use your contactless card. However, in New Zealand this payment is capped at a maximum of $80 NZD (AU$74.61). For purchases over this amount, you must use your pin.

How to stay safe using contactless cards in New Zealand

Speaking to the NZ Herald, an ASB spokeswoman explained that reports of stolen paywave cards had remained steady. They also advised that people should never leave cards out of sight to reduce the risk of theft. If you notice that your card is missing or stolen, contact your bank immediately to freeze all transactions.

Note: Information current as of 17th July, 2018.


Author

TID is an Australian online travel insurance company.

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