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Tap and go contactless payments

You can make fast and secure tap and go card payments without entering your PIN when you use payWave and PayPass. Here's how tap and go contactless payments work.

To make a tap and go payment, all you need to do is wave your bank card (or phone or wearable device) above a payment terminal and the payment will be made. You can make tap and go purchases of up to $100 without inserting your card or entering your PIN. This alows you to make quick, easy payments. As the name suggests, you can literally just tap your card ang go.

What is contactless payment?

A contactless payment, commonly referred to as a tap-and-go payment, is a feature added to a debit or credit card that allows you make in-store purchases faster. When you make a purchase of up to $100 at a merchant that has a payment terminal (such as an EFTPOS machine), you just need to hold your card within 4cm of the terminal to approve the purchase without entering your PIN. This is why it’s called a contactless payment, because your card doesn’t need to make contact with the terminal for the payment to work. If the purchase is over $100, you can still make a contactless payment but you'll need to enter your PIN.

If you're looking to make contactless payments using your smartphone instead of your debit card, read our guides on Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay to find out more.

How do I make a contactless tap-and-go payment?

The beauty of making a contactless payment is that it's super fast and really easy to do.

  • Step 1. Check that the merchant accepts contactless payments.
  • Step 2. When the merchant asks how you'd like to pay, let them know you'd like to tap and go.
  • Step 3. Confirm the transaction amount is correct (you should do this regardless of how you're paying).
  • Step 4. If the payment is less than $100, all you need to do is hold your card above the terminal and wait until you see it's been approved. Done! (For payments over $100, you'll be asked for your PIN first).
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Finder survey: How often do Australians of different ages use contactless payments?

Response
75% of the time31.21%
100% of the time21.6%
25% of the time17.17%
Never15.23%
50% of the time14.79%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1113 Australians, December 2023

Compare bank accounts with tap and go payment options

Name Monthly fee Govt. Guarantee Own network ATM fee Card type
ING Orange Everyday Account
Apple Pay Google Pay
Monthly fee
$0
Government Guarantee
Own network ATM fee
$0
Card type
Visa
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1% cashback on utility bills (T&Cs apply)
Suncorp Everyday Options Account
Apple Pay Google Pay
Monthly fee
$0
Government Guarantee
Own network ATM fee
$0
Card type
Visa
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MyState Bank Glide Account
Apple Pay Google Pay Samsung Pay Fitbit Pay Garmin Pay
Monthly fee
$0
Government Guarantee
Own network ATM fee
$0
Card type
Visa
Go to siteMore Info
St.George Complete Freedom Account
Apple Pay Google Pay Samsung Pay
Monthly fee
$0
Government Guarantee
Own network ATM fee
$0
Card type
Visa
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Get up to 4 $10 cashbacks when you spend $40 at Woolworths on your Visa Debit Card.
Westpac Choice
Apple Pay Google Pay Samsung Pay Fitbit Pay Garmin Pay Digital Card
Monthly fee
$5
Government Guarantee
Own network ATM fee
$0
Card type
Mastercard
Go to siteMore Info
Eligible cardholders can get discounts when shopping at partner brands.

Revolut Account
Apple Pay Google Pay
Monthly fee
$0
Government Guarantee
Own network ATM fee
$0
Card type
Visa and Mastercard
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Up Everyday Account
Apple Pay Google Pay Samsung Pay Fitbit Pay Garmin Pay
Monthly fee
$0
Government Guarantee
Own network ATM fee
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Card type
Mastercard
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Big Four banks contactless payment options

These are the contactless payment options Australia's four major banks – CBA, Westpac, NAB and ANZ – are offering their customers.

Device Payment optionCBANABWestpacANZ
Debit cardpayWave or PayPassNoNoNoNo
SmartphoneApple Pay (iOS only)NoNoNoNo
SmartphoneSamsung Pay (Samsung only)NoNoNoNo
SmartphoneGoogle Pay (Android only)NoNoNoNo
SmartphoneTap and Pay (Android only)NoNoNoNo
SmartphonePayTag (all phones)NoNoNoNo
WearableFitBit PayNoNoNoNo
WearableGarmin PayNoNoNoNo
WearableWestpac PayWear*NoNoNoNo

*Note: Westpac PayWear can only be used by Westpac customers.

The above table is a snapshot of the contactless payment solutions offered by Westpac, NAB, CBA and ANZ. We'll explore each of these payment options in more detail later in this guide.

How does tap and go technology work?

Credit cards, debit cards and other devices including smartphones use Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to make secure, contactless payments. The chip in the debit or credit card communicates with the chip in the payment terminal to authorise and process the transaction from a few centimetres away.

The embedded chip allows you to wave your card or smartphone device over a contactless payment terminal (eg, Tyro EFTPOS, Albert EFTPOS or Square) without having to swipe or insert the card into the terminal.

What are PayPass and payWave systems?

PayPass is the name of the contactless payment function offered by Mastercard, and payWave is the contactless payment function offered by Visa. Both PayPass and payWave function in the same way, and are commonly referred to as simply “tap-and-go” rather than their correct brand names.

So if you’ve got a Visa debit card, you’ll technically be using payWave to make contactless purchases. If you’ve got a debit Mastercard, you’ll be using PayPass. Same technology, just different names.

How do I set up payWave or PayPass?

All new bank cards come automatically equipped with contactless payment technology – Visa payWave and Mastercard PayPass. Your card will clearly display “PayPass” or “payWave” in the bottom right hand corner. Just activate your new bank card and you’re ready to go.

If you have an older card that doesn’t already come equipped with tap-and-go functionality, you can simply contact your bank and request a new debit or credit card be sent to you.

Is there a difference between contactless payments on my credit or debit card?

If your contactless card is a debit card, all your payments will be drawn from your transaction or savings account (via the credit card payment processing system). If your contactless card is a credit card, transactions will always be drawn from your credit card account.

Which credit cards offer contactless payments?

Like debit cards, most Australian credit cards give you the option of making contactless payments. This includes Mastercard and Visa credit cards from all the major banks and providers, as well as American Express cards. There are also plenty of credit cards that offer contactless mobile payments with Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay (as well as some with Garmin Pay and Fitbit Pay).

Where can I use my card to make contactless payments?

You can make contactless payments wherever PayPass and payWave are accepted. These days, it’s most places in major Australian cities and towns, including at supermarkets, department stores, petrol stations, cafes and public transport top-up machines. Look for the contactless payment symbol on the payment terminal.

Are tap and go payments safe?

There are a lot of measures in place to ensure you don’t accidentally make a payment without meaning to, or that someone can’t hijack the signal to rob you. Thanks to these, and additional safeguards put in place by Visa, Mastercard and Australian banks, contactless payments are in some ways even more secure than classic debit or credit cards.

  • You don’t have to hand your card over. Your debit card won’t leave your hands, reducing the risk of someone skimming your card or copying the card details.
  • Unique transaction codes. When you make a payment, the transaction will be assigned a unique number that isn’t specific to your device. This prevents you from accidentally being billed twice, and makes sure all payments are clearly tracked.
  • $100 purchase limit. Even if your card is compromised, there is a $100 per transaction maximum in Australia for tap-and-go payments. This means you’ll have to enter your PIN or sign as usual for larger transactions, but it also means people can’t steal as much if they do manage to get their hands on your card.
  • Built-in encryption. All cards can naturally be read by certain devices, and just like updating your software, there are security benefits to going for the newest cards available.

Additionally, you’re protected by Visa and Mastercard’s zero liability policies. These state that you will not be held liable for fraudulent or unauthorised transactions made on your Australian issued cards, within reason.

What’s my tap and go payment limit?

With contactless payment you can make purchases of up to $100 without entering your PIN. If the purchase is over $100, you can still make a contactless payment but you'll need to enter your PIN.

Are there any hidden charges to tap and go?

Waving the card next to a terminal instead of inserting generally won't cost you anything extra. However that's only what you see as a customer. On the other end, choosing to tap-and-go can result in different costs for the retailer.

If you’re making a purchase with a debit card – inserting, pressing “Cheque” or “Savings” and then putting in your PIN – the payment will be processed through an EFTPOS system. However if you’re using payWave or PayPass the payment will often be processed through a different system – the credit card networks owned by Visa or Mastercard.

The RBA estimates that retailers pay an average of about 0.55% of the transaction’s value in a "merchant service fee" to their bank when your payment goes through the credit card network. But if your purchase goes through the EFTPOS system, this fee drops to 0.15%. All that tapping of debit cards is probably costing retailers hundreds of millions a year.

As a consumer you probably won’t notice any of this going on in the background, but it may mean for now that the price of the goods you’re purchasing may slightly increase to cover the merchant costs. Since September 2017, businesses have not been allowed to pass on excessive surcharges to consumers on credit and debit transactions made using PayPass and payWave.

How long does it take for a contactless payment to come out of my account

Contactless payment transactions are usually processed within 3-5 business days, but it can take longer. While the transaction is pending, the purchase may be deducted from your available funds.

The pros and cons of tap-and-go payments

Pros

  • Convenient. Just tap your debit card. No need to enter a PIN or sign a receipt on transactions under $100. If most people start using contactless cards, it can also lead to quicker transaction and shorter queues.
  • Safe. No typing errors, such as incorrectly keying your PIN or accidentally pressing cancel.
  • Secure. Backed up by the guarantees offered by the cards and the latest security technology.

Cons

  • Misuse. Since the card doesn’t require a PIN or a signature for payments of up to $100, you cannot rule out its misuse completely. This can happen if you don’t realise you’ve lost your card quickly enough, or even if someone you know decides to use your card without your knowledge.
  • Acceptance. While contactless payments are extremely popular in Australia, some merchants may not have a contactless terminal.
  • $100 limit. While the $100 limit is in place for your security, you'll need to enter your PIN for any purchases larger than this amount.

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6 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    MaxNovember 21, 2022

    If someone uses my tap&go card without my authority, what is the crime that they have committed?

      AvatarFinder
      AlisonDecember 2, 2022Finder

      Hi Max,

      It is your responsibility to keep your debit card secure. If someone gains access to your card and makes a tap and go purchase, unfortunately, you may not get the money back as the bank will likely see this as you being irresponsible with your card. If you notice someone has gained access to your card you should freeze your card right away in your mobile app, internet banking, or by contacting your bank. If the transaction is still pending, the bank may be able to stop it from going through.

      Thanks,
      Alison

    Default Gravatar
    AranApril 29, 2016

    Hi finder.com.au,

    A lot of retailers ask for your card and tap for you. Does this void any protection under Visa Paywave/Mastercard Paypass policies since the card leaves my hand?

      AvatarFinder
      ShirleyMay 2, 2016Finder

      Hi Aran,

      Thanks for your question.

      Visa’s Zero Liability Policy protects cardholders from unauthorised charges, so whether it’s you or the store clerk tapping your card, you’ll be covered.

      Hope this helps.

    Default Gravatar
    garyMay 28, 2015

    just paid by contactless payment but never showed on my account why is this

      AvatarFinder
      ElizabethMay 28, 2015Finder

      Hi Gary,

      Thanks for your question.

      The transaction may not have been processed properly or it just may not have appeared on your account yet. You’ll need to get in touch with your bank/card provider to discuss any questions you have with your personal account.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Elizabeth

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