Most cardholders, whether they are credit card holders, debit card holders, or otherwise, may have heard of RFID. But what is it? And which credit cards have it?
What Is RFID?
RFID is an acronym, and it stands for ‘radio frequency identification’. This refers to a technology wherein digital data that is encoded in RFID tags or smart labels are captured by a reader who is using radio waves. It is similar to barcoding in data from a tag or label.
RFID has several advantages over systems that use barcode asset tracking software products. The most notable advantage is that RFID tag data can be read outside of the line-of-sight, whereas a majority of barcodes need to be aligned with a scanner.
However, RFID can be used in other ways than this, and it has uses in protection from theft.
How Does RFID Work?
So, how does this technology work? Well, innovations in technology brought this about, and it exists in many ways, but we want to focus on its part to play in credit card technology.
And, innovations in credit card technology have made it easier and easier to pay, while they also increase the security of transactions. One development which has been catching on is RFID. In credit cards, this allows cardholders to make a payment by just bringing their card closer to a card reader- yep, we are talking about contactless payments.
The contactless approach has caused some security experts to fear it may also open consumers up to a whole new, advanced technological form of identity theft.
As a result, we have seen innovations to prevent this type of identity theft from catching on. So, retailers started creating and selling RFID-blocking wallets, cards, and so on, claiming that they will keep your card information safe from fraudsters who may have sophisticated card readers.
Many are asking if it is worth buying these, and for the most part people are saying no. Let’s be fair, these RFID-blocking items do cost a lot of money, and the chances of your information being stolen this way are really low.
But, it really depends on how security focused you are and if you adhere to the phrase ‘it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it’.
How Do RFID Credit Cards Work?
RFID has actually been around for quite a long time, and it is a term that is used to describe technology which uses radio frequencies for things such as scanning items and giving you access to a room using a key fob.
However, with credit cards, the type of RFID technology that is used is called ‘near-field communications’ (NFC) This is the same type of technology that is used in mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay.
Instead of swiping your credit card, or putting it into a card reader, you simply place it near the reader, and the NFC chip and antenna send the information via radio waves.
This is known as ‘waving’, and waving instead of swiping means that the hardware never actually touches, which can make for a more convenient and faster transaction.
This technology uses tokenization to replace card numbers, which makes it impossible for a thief to link it back to the actual original account and its information.
This token is only valid for a single transaction as well, so even if a fraudster were to get the information, it is only useable that one time, and they wouldn’t be able to use it again.
Back in 2019 people anticipated that half the US would be equipped with the technology by now (2021), however, it is much more than half now, as the COVID-19 pandemic had given contactless payments a real boost, making them more desirable, removing any unnecessary contact.
NFC technology got one hell of a boost in 2020 and 2021 in the fight to remove any unnecessary contact, and now contactless is the primary form of payment in most places, especially in water corners of the world.
Which Credit Cards Have RFID Technology?
So, if you do not yet have a card with RFID technology, where should you get one? We are certain that you would probably want to invest in one of these.
Sure, some people are still a little suspicious about the security of paying with contactless, and many would still rather pay with cash, or put entering their card into a machine, but we can definitely say that it would not be surprising if in the future contactless payments took over the way that we handle our money.
So, getting one of these cards is wise. You can get them from many places.
- American Express
- Capital One
- Wells Fargo
All of these offer contactless technology, although, they do not necessarily offer it on all of their credit cards. If you do have a card with one of these, and you are not certain that it has RFID technology, then look on the back or front of the card and look for a symbol of waved lines, to symbolize radio waves. If you do not see it, you can call up your card issuer to double-check.
How To Fight RFID Fraud?
As we said, there are many people out there who are worried about the security of contactless technology. Many are worried that it makes it easier for thieves to get hold of credit card information.
All they’d need to do is stand near you in a crowded place with an RFID-equipped card reader and place it close enough to your wallet.
Well, this is where RFID-blocking wallets and cards come in handy. Using a meshed material that is made up of small conductive wires, they can block electromagnetic fields, such as the one that is created using a credit card scanner, from contacting the NFC chip in your card
There have actually not been any documented cases noteworthy of someone using this to steal a credit card though, but remember the communications between your card, or mobile, and the point of sale are encrypted, so fraudsters can’t access your card number, name, or information anyway.