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When does Apple Pay require a signature?

Apple Pay is the convenient new electronic payment method that Apple has built into the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Sometimes it isn't exactly convenient, though, and you may be required to electronically sign for the transaction. Isn't not having to do stuff like that the point? What's setting off the signature requirement, exactly?

In theory, Apple Pay is fantastically convenient: Just aim your iPhone at the payment terminal, hold down your finger on the Touch ID sensor, and the phone takes care of the rest, securely and quickly. But in some cases you may be required to sign for the purchase as well.

It isn't always the same vendor, and it isn't always the dollar amount that's setting it off. John Martellaro at the Mac Observer has done some digging to find out what triggers the signature requirement.

wondered about that, so I asked my own credit card issuers about their policies. What I found is that, in my two cases, 1) there is no fixed dollar amount that dictates when I have to sign and 2) there is a very sophisticated, tiered fraud prevention system, from the credit card corporate level, then down to the issuing bank, and finally the merchant that may dictate when I have to also sign.

So it turns out that the reason may vary depending on what credit card is being used, what the issuing bank does, what merchant you're at, and what existing policies are in place for electronic transactions through every step of the way.

Source: The Mac Observer

11 Comments
  • So really the answer is that ApplePay is still new and everyone (banks, merchants ,etc) haven't quite figured out yet how they want it to work in practice. Sent from the iMore App
  • I don't think it's quite that simple. I think the answer is that while Apple Pay can save you from having to open your wallet, there are still a number of mitigating factors ranging from the merchant to your bank which can affect how the transaction is handled.
  • Also discovered while at Walgreens that not only am I still required to choose between Debit/Credit when using NFC, but if I ring my debit card as debit I'm still required to put in my PIN (REALLY??). Now I just simply press Credit when paying debit and bypass that issue:
  • I've only had the occasion to use Apple pay on 3 occasions. Once at Walgreens for less than $10, no signature required but I don't recall if I had an option to choose debit or credit, and twice in the same day at Bass Pro, once for 2 hot chocolates at their Santas wonderland think with my daughter less than $3, signature was required, and once at their regular checkout for less than $10, signature also was required. I don't recall if I had the option to choose debit or credit at Bass Pro either time, I was too distracted by my 2 year old daughter. Sent from the iMore App
  • Haven't had the option to use Apple Pay unfortunately.
  • "Isn't not having to do stuff like that the point?" Actually, no... that isn't the point of ApplePay. The point of ApplePay is to securely make transactions with merchants while hiding your private information, including your CC number. They have made it easy to do that using Touch ID.
  • When using Apple Pay as a credit, all it does is stop you from pulling out a card. A signature is still required. Meh...
  • Not pulling out a card can be a good thing. My phone is far more accessible. My wallet I have open, flip the ID holder out of the way and try to get my fingers to grasp the card. Is it mind-bogglingly difficult? No. Is pulling my phone out of my front pocket, holding it to the terminal, and putting it back in my pocket easier? Yes. Not to mention the real number obfuscation that helps in the even of a Target, Home Depot, or any data breach.
  • Walgreens transactions have never asked for debit vs credit or to sign before, but my last 2 transactions didn't even work, so I had to pull out my real card (the same one in ApplePay) and swipe, which did work...
    Frustrating, hopefully that's just a temporary problem for that 1 store... Sent from the iMore App
  • I can live with having to sign my John Hancock every now and then.
  • ApplePay is always more secure and the most secure option available in the US. We don't have wide spread adoption of Chip and Pin credit cards. ApplePay is many times more convenient, sometimes the same convenience, and can be less convenient. For example, if you prepay for gas to use Apple Pay. But those occasions when it is the same convenience or less convenient you don't have to wonder whether your credit card is going to be caught up in a hacking scheme. (Target, Home Depot, Staples, PF Changs, Jimmy Johns, Neiman Marcus....)