News & Trends

Credit Card Companies Don’t Want Your Autograph Anymore

If you saw my signature on credit card receipts, you wouldn't know it was a signature at all—it's more of an illegible, wavy, scribbled line I've dashed off in a rush in the checkout line.

Turns out, I won't need that scribble anymore. It's time to say goodbye to the need for a credit card signature altogether. Credit card companies Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Discover are getting rid of the requirement for consumers to autograph credit and debit card receipts, effective April 14.

Merchants, however, will have the option of requiring signatures on credit card sales. Most retailers have already eliminated the requirement on purchases on smaller amounts (typically less than $50).

The change is due to the industry's shift toward chip-enabled cards over those with magnetic stripes. Also known as EMV credit cards, chip cards add an additional layer of security during a transaction. When you insert your card into the chip-enabled reader, the microchip embedded into your card converts the card's information into a unique code that is more difficult to replicate and use in future transactions.

That prevents fraudsters from being able to lift your information and clone it onto a new card. The reality is that signing your credit card receipt isn't really a good way to prevent fraud, especially when many merchants don't even check it. (Click here for tips on what to do if you are a victim of credit card fraud.)

"Our fraud capabilities have advanced so that signatures are no longer necessary to fight fraud," Jaromir Divilek of American Express said in a statement in December, a sentiment echoed by the other major card issuers.

In fact, Mastercard says that more than 80% of all in-store Mastercard transactions in North America are already done without a signature because they were only required on transactions over $50.

Credit card issuers also expect the elimination of the signature to streamline the payment process.

"The change matches all of our expectations for fast and convenient shopping experiences," Mastercard said in a statement. "Our consumer research found that a majority of people believe it would be easier to pay and that checkout lines would move faster if they didn't need to sign when making a purchase."

American Express, Discover, and Mastercard are killing the signature requirement for all merchants in North America, while American Express has nixed it worldwide. Visa has said that the signature will still be required if you swipe your card with a magnetic strip rather than using a chip. But shoppers can expect most merchants to shift to chip-enabled card readers in the near future if they haven't already done so.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.
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