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The credit card is considered one of the most flexible means of payment at all. Whether shopping on the Internet, in shops - whether domestic or abroad. It is not for nothing that the credit card is a means of payment for every time and place. Nevertheless, the payment by credit card is still rather unfamiliar to many USA, possibly also for you. In this guide, we therefore want to explain to you how the payment with a credit card works at all and what you basically have to consider. In itself, paying with a credit card sounds like a very simple thing, but there are relatively serious differences depending on where and how you pay.

Where can I pay with a credit card?

If you have chosen a suitable Visa, Mastercard or American Express card in our credit card comparison, you will usually enjoy complete financial flexibility within a very short time. Pay and shop around the world in seconds. But if you've never had a credit card in your wallet, you're probably wondering ahead of time: where can I go?



Use credit card at all?

The answer is easy to find, because you can easily use a credit card in three different situations:

All this applies to both home and abroad. In principle, you can use your credit card for any relevant payment service. It does not matter in which currency a payment is processed. However, be aware that fees may apply if you choose to pay with your credit card in a currency other than the euro.

How does payment work in a retail store?

Payment with a credit card in the store is the "classic" variant. The first credit card in the world was used in a US restaurant, it followed all kinds of shops. The Internet was still a distant future, even something like a credit card comparison did not exist. Even today big names like Visa or Mastercard are not even in their infancy.

For information: Here you can read again the specific development stories of the three credit card providers.

It has been held that credit cards worldwide can continue to be used mainly in shops. However, there are now three different payment methods, which in turn differ in the exact processing. These are:

You must know that the payment by signature actually represents the typical variant. The PIN payment only occurred when European credit card issuers began to equip credit cards with chips to increase security and prevent abuse. Meanwhile, most US and other foreign credit cards have a chip, but there are still cards without. With these apart from the payment with signature no other variant remains.

If you want to pay with a credit card in a retail store, there is only one option at first: you must use the appropriate reader on the terminal. Depending on how old the terminal is, you can either pay via NFC (recognizable by three different semicircles) or the conventional payment option.

How does the credit card payment with PIN work?
credit card-payment

Unless the terminal accepts payment via NFC, you must always put the credit card in the appropriate slot in the credit card terminal. Then the device decides whether the entry of a PIN or a signature is necessary. You should know that the priority type of verification is dictated by the credit card bank. Depending on which credit card comparison card you use, in most cases you will pay either by PIN or signature verification. You will quickly notice which type of verification you find most frequently.

If you need to pay with PIN, after inserting the card into the credit card slot and waiting a short while, it is necessary to enter the four-digit PIN of your card. You will usually receive this PIN in a separate letter when applying for the credit card. However, in some cases, for example with American Express credit cards, you can define the PIN yourself. This usually happens directly at the request. In this case, you usually do not receive the PIN again separately with a letter. You should always keep your PIN secure and never carry it with your credit card to prevent any misuse.

Once you have entered the PIN at the card terminal and usually confirmed by pressing the green header, your PIN will be verified. This can take a few seconds. Then you will receive the confirmation of the purchase and the successful entry will be communicated to the POS terminal. At this moment, your receipt is usually already printed. You will always receive both a receipt and a separate receipt confirming payment by credit card and holding a separate transaction number for this payment. The credit card banks advise you to keep these documents for a certain period of time.

How does the credit card payment with signature work?

Aldi-sued-checkout

However, once you have put your credit card into the slot of the card terminal, PIN verification is not always required. Even with cards with chip, it often happens that a verification by signature is required. In Germany, there are even some so-called "Signature First" credit cards. In concrete terms, these credit cards generally require the signature for verification and only in exceptional cases an entry via PIN. So it may well be that you have to verify your payments in the shop regularly with a signature.

If the card terminal displays "signature" or "signature", the cashier's terminal usually prints three documents:

a conventional receipt
a confirmation of your payment
a dealer receipt
In this case, you have to sign on the last mentioned merchant receipt. The merchant retains this document and can prove that you have agreed to the payment. Once you've signed, you do not have to do anything else. The payment is settled and confirmed and you can leave the store.

How does credit card payment work with NFC?

NFC symbol

If your credit card has a so-called NFC chip in addition to the normal chip, a credit card payment is also possible via the modern Near Field Technology. Specifically, this means that you can pay with a credit card by simply holding it very close to the payment terminal. Further verification is not necessary in this case.

However, there are some limitations that you should know. So, above all, the prerequisite is crucial that both the credit card and the terminal are able to process NFC payments. This is commonly recognized by the three different semicircles on the device or the card. At the same time, even with card connectivity from the terminal, it is possible that an NFC payment will not be feasible. This is always the case, for example, when the merchant deactivates the payment option via NFC. In some cases, there are simply problems with the connectivity. Another problem has recently emerged with American Express credit cards: Although many terminals seem to be able to process payments with NFC credit cards from Visa and Mastercard, but not with those from American Express (as of 09/2017).

The payment by NFC is very easy for you, as long as it does not cause problems. You can easily hold your credit card to the card terminal and confirm each payment up to 25 euros (as of 09/2017) without further verification. You do not have to enter or sign a PIN. However, if the transaction value is more than 25 euros, you must either confirm the transaction via PIN or sign the receipt. However, the threshold for the maximum amount of NFC payments differs from country to country and should also be raised in Germany.

If you have paid via NFC, you will receive both a normal shopping and a payment receipt, just as you would pay by PIN. Otherwise, you do not have to do anything. Especially due to the simplicity of payment via NFC is usually the easiest and fastest way to pay.


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