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Bank of America begins contactless push, reissuing cards in major markets

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In another major step towards contactless adoption in the United States, Bank of America plans to reissue contactless credit and debit cards to all current cardholders in select cities this year.

Last month, Bank of America began its rollout of contactless cards to customers in New York, Boston and San Francisco. Cardholders in these cities will receive a contactless version of their card by mail.

This method is different than the contactless rollouts conducted by other major issuers, like Chase and Wells Fargo. Their adoption process is incremental: contactless cards are issued to new customers and to existing cardholders when their current card expires.

With its more proactive plan, Bank of America will be at the forefront of contactless adoption in their targeted cities by simplifying the process for millions of cardholders looking to make the switch.

The rollout

New York, Boston and San Francisco were chosen as the test markets for Bank of America’s contactless rollout “based on a number of factors,” according to a representative from the issuer. “These are major markets for us, so we could reach a large, significant number of cardholders. We also took into account the density of contactless-enabled merchants as well as recent moves of local mass transit systems to accept contactless cards.”

This rollout doesn’t necessarily mean Bank of America will follow with a nationwide contactless push, though. Success, based on transaction volume and implementation in these three initial cities will likely determine whether adoption rates justify a more widespread approach.

If you are a Bank of America cardholder in one of the three markets involved in the pilot program, look out for a new card to arrive by mail if it hasn’t already.

Why contactless

Contactless credit cards, along with mobile wallet digital payments which use the same technology, can be processed in seconds and are much faster than dipping an EMV chip card. But they’re just as secure as the EMV cards consumers have become familiar with over the past few years, as they use the same NFC (near-field communication) technology to complete payments.

While countries like the United Kingdom and Canada have seen widespread adoption of contactless payments for a while, the U.S. is just beginning to catch up. According to Visa, 80 of the top 100 merchants by transaction already allow contactless payments. Visa also expects 100 million contactless cards to be issued in the U.S. by the end of 2019.

As consumers become more aware of the benefits of contactless, mass transit systems across the country make them convenient and merchants and issuers continue to increase accessibility, experts believe we’ll see widespread contactless adoption take off in the U.S. over the next few years.

If you’re interested in contactless payments but haven’t been issued contactless-enabled card yet, you can contact your issuer or test the contactless waters yourself by connecting your current credit card to a digital wallet like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.

Written by
Kendall Little
Kendall Little is a personal finance writer who previously covered credit card news and advice at Bankrate. Kendall currently is a staff writer for NextAdvisor. She is originally from metro Atlanta and holds bachelor’s degrees from the University of Georgia in both journalism and film studies. Before joining Bankrate in August 2018, Kendall worked in digital communications throughout various industries, including education, health care and television.