Signing Off on Signing Credit Card Receipts

As of this month, the big credit card companies are dropping the requirement for signatures, the beginning of the end for signing your name.

Comments: 72

  1. Signatures have questionable benefit and slow the transaction. Many vendors have machines that allow the credit card security handshake to begin after the first item has been entered. Other companies like Trader Joe's do not allow the credit card handshake to begin until after the last item has been entered and the cashier allows a credit card transaction to begin. I prefer the faster option.

  2. I was at a gas station Thursday and saw a sign on their CC reader that customers now had to enter the 3-digit code from the back of the CC. Unsure when this takes place. I wondered if this was in response to the ending of the signature requirement? Seems this will really slow transactions.

  3. I sure don’t want to provide that three digit code. It’s a surefire way for hackers to have your card’s complete information.

  4. Find a different gas station.

  5. Yes, and what's the point if it's a machine where you've just swiped your card? If someone stole your card, they now also have the 3 digit number.

  6. It's about time! The signature line is absolutely pointless already--Just for the fun of it, I've been signing all my credit card slips 'Not Authorized' for the past year or so. No one has stopped or questioned me in this action.

  7. And my artistically poor approximation of a smiley face gets a cashier's smile - if noticed at all.

  8. I will confess that I have been signing with an "X" on many of my in-store credit card purchases where you sign on the POS device screen.

    Not a single push back or question from any of the stores.

  9. this is welcome, especially for peeps with disabilities like me. (hopefully) up next: getting rid of endless sign-in forms at the doctor's office. just make it digital already

  10. I shared this news yesterday with a pharmacy, while signing my name. The cashier was highly offended and told me they will ALWAYS require a signature because their "machine" (card-reader) demands it. Hmmph.

  11. I was at a Walgreens over a year ago, where I was able to tap my credit card, and that was it.

    Your pharmacy will have to adapt or lose business.

  12. Signature or not, when you buy now with the card, you pay later with the creepy credit reporters like Shadowfax's greedier brother Equifax.

    Make sure your favorite brick-and-mortar still accepts cash, and assume your purchase history's in the creeps' hands if you swipe—and that your contacts, GPS track, and browsing history are as well, if you wave your phone.

    Don't be *as* worried if you pay with the same online—even checks, let alone stray legal tender, can be stolen in transit. I've seen it happen. But avoid online banking, or at minimum keep separate send and receive accounts; and NEVER give PayPal and similar middlemen a bank account, only a credit card for them to charge (if that).

  13. When you pay with paypal, you don't have to give your credit card number to anybody. Only PayPal has the number. So you are only exposing your account to a single entity. Just make sure that the paypal password is long and complex and don't stay signed on.

  14. For years my signature has degenerated into a straight line and I my card has never been declined.

  15. This chip reader system has been in place in Canada for years. We even have an option just to tap your credit card on the machine to read the card to approve the transaction. It takes seconds. So convenient and safe.

  16. Same in Europe and it's been that way for some time. Odd to read that America lags behind.

  17. Signature transactions carry higher fees than PIN transactions. So it's all about the money.

  18. We'll catch up just about the time some new technology replaces chip and PIN.

  19. The signature, in most of the cases cited in the article, falls just short of an oath. I am this person, the squiggles promise, and no other. I feel like I'm losing my identity further each passing day and each passe habit. I would sign this, if I could.

  20. Still not sure what happens if one looses a credit card and it gets picked up by someone shady and used immediately on a purchase?
    We are missing a security layer without a signature requirement, or?
    And other countries chip systems require a ‘pin’ entered which is not mentioned in this article for the US system.

  21. Chips mean PINs, not signatures.

    Oh, and I can tell you what happens if someone else manages to make a charge using your PIN - YOU are liable.

    That's one reason credit card companies are making this change, the other being, far fewer fraudulent transactions overall.

  22. Michele -- we can't get PINS for our US Chip cards. They're Chip and Signature. I've tried for years to get 'chip and pin', so they'll be useful in Europe (and Quebec). Alas, I use the chip, and am still presented with a slip for the signature. No matter how good my French is, I'm pegged as a tourist.... *sigh*

  23. It's noticeable that most of the comments left here so far focus on purchasing transactions, as if that's the only possible purpose of a signature.
    Your signature is one of the ways in which you represent yourself to others, which makes it a part of your identity. Even more, it's a part of how you stake your claim to that identity -- how you live that representation not only to others, but to yourself. That means it has value as a way of establishing and legitimizing your personal integrity -- your capacity to keep promises, for example.
    When I was about 12 and wondering what to do to develop my signature, I deliberately patterned mine after my father's signature. Even a quick glance at our signatures side by side will show similarities to this day, even though he's long gone. Not only did this help me to improve my penmanship, mirroring his elegant, clear style, but it was one step into adulthood, a step that I somehow acknowledged in the back of my mind. Most importantly, it gave me lifetime ownership of a real link to my personal heritage, a recognition that I'm my father's son that I have always valued and will continue to value. I struggle to understand the views of those who see signatures as devoid of any possible significance other than for agreeing to payments.

  24. Your thoughtful comment made my day, Livie.

  25. I am concerned that there is no indication that PIN will be required, although I have noticed that AA Mastercard prompts for and accepts a PIN I set up when I use it in certain places in Toronto, where I travel frequently. This just started and I hope it becomes normal. I lived in Toronto again for a lot of the last 6 years and chip and PIN on my Canadian credit cards was fast and easy - I wasn't as worried about CC fraud up there as I am here - signatures are easy to fake at point of sale. I have CID (See I.D.) written on one of my US cards and only once was ever asked to show ID when I used it. Humpf!

  26. I think having your signature on the back of a your credit card is incredibly useful. When your card is stolen, it gives the thief a chance to practice your signature.

  27. Above the signature strip on the backs of my credit or debit cards is written "AUTHORIZED SIGNATURE - NOT VALID UNLESS SIGNED." (Let's see how long it takes the legal departments at MC et al. to delete that language!) This seems kind of like those mattress labels that say "Do not remove under penalty of law." For some years I have "signed" my credit/debit cards with "SEE PHOTO I.D." which in practice only prompts a request from the occasional observant waiter.

  28. For credit/debit card purchases a signature adds no additional security and only lengthens the amount of time spent completing the transaction. Next time you are asked to sign that little screen, just swipe a line with your fingertip -- it will be accepted. That adds nothing.

  29. The only thing more absurd than having to sign a printed CC slip is having to sign on-screen. Mine doesn't look remotely like a real signature.

  30. I used the finger print scanner on Apple pay for years and have now been using facial recognition for several months. I continually forget that I still have to sign my name after verifying my identity with my fingerprint or my face. It is just so counterintuitive that the far less secure signature would be used to verify a unique fingerprint or, heaven forbid, my face. Anyone can forge my signature, but try forging my face! About time the banks caught up to this reality.

  31. I had to have my millennial daughter sign a document not to long ago. I told her Via text message that I needed her John Hancock. She had no idea who I was talking about or that what I needed was her signature.

  32. That also means your millennial daughter does not know her American history.

  33. UCC 3-401(b): A signature may be made (i) manually or by means of a device or machine, and (ii) by the use of any name, including a trade or assumed name, or by a word, mark, or symbol executed or adopted by a person with present intention to authenticate a writing.

  34. I am okay with getting rid of signatures but we should add the "PIN" that most of the world uses in conjunction with "Chip & PIN". Omitting signature without adding PIN will make things less secure and increase costs for card companies and customers.

  35. The signature/PIN conundrum has an unexpected oddity...when using a US$ credit card with a chip in Australia, you are still asked for a signature. One of my usual AU merchants (Kemeny's, an independent liquor store) has decided not to accept any signature required card because of fraud concerns, and when I talked to my credit card company back in the States I was told that the "chip" can only be used for cash withdrawals, not merchant transactions. Why? I have no idea.

  36. Yes, I had a similar experience. We need a PIN to replace the scribble.

  37. For years, I’ve signed “Elvis” or “Cher” at the grocery store, just for my own amusement. Have never been questioned once.

  38. America: welcome to the rest of the developed world. Where your signature is actually worth something when signed on contracts and not a useless requirement for buying snacks at Target.

  39. Anything less than $50 doesn't require a signature at any store I've ever shopped.

  40. If you signed off Don Dokken, I'd have you sing Alone Again to prove you are who you sign you are!

  41. Glad to see it go, waste of time,

  42. I've always been a legible signer, often feeling a small pang of guilt if I sign quickly and trail off illegibly on the "son" part of my last name. And I remember being concerned when I decided to stop using my middle initial in my signature even though the initial is on my card.
    But I won't miss a thing with the demise of the signature. I've started to use Apple pay a lot more and really appreciate those transactions, both credit and debit, that require just a swipe or tap.
    For purposes of style and personalization, I do think a signature on letters and other documents, even if they are otherwise machine printed, is should be retained. But for financial transactions that are otherwise all-computer, it seems pointless.
    Now what to do with those folks who are still using checks at the supermarket.

  43. So sorry to hear this. I have just perfected the art of drawing little hearts pierced with arrows as my standard signature on the wonderful virtual stylus machines
    I get a lot of compliments at restaurants too. And no more germs at Walmart! A sad day.

  44. I own a bar. Guests will sometimes file a "chargeback" with their credit card company, which is essentially a claim of fraudulent activity - unless I can provide a scan of a signed receipt, I am out of pocket for their entire check (i.e. the card issuer won't pay me for that transaction). The amount that get issued makes me think that at least some of these chargebacks aren't a result of someone having their card stolen but instead the work of someone who regrets a night of buying a round of shots for the entire bar and wants to get out of having to pay me. How, exactly, am I supposed to prevent this kind of fraud without signatures?

  45. The chip and PIN will prevent anyone from being able to pull this scam, because under that system, the card owner is held liable for the transaction, which no longer can be put off on you or the bank.

  46. But we don't have PINs yet on our Chip cards here in the US. They're all Chip and signature...

  47. We have chip and scribble. Any old scribble will do.

  48. Since no one ever checks or compares the signature you provide at the checkout vs. the signature on the credit card, I always assumed the signature was just a way to check if you actually made the purchase in case of a dispute. However, I doubt even that is being done.

    At this point, so many purchases are done online where a physical signature is not required, it seems the signature at the checkout should be phased out altogether.
    It is not earthshattering but might help speed up the check out line at the local supermarket.

  49. Thanks for the tip of the hat to us middle name users. Always a bit of a pain. Lots of computers just don't get it still. Do you put a period after the first initial, just stick the initial on the front end of the middle name or use the whole thing even though it's a name I've never used. Of course post 9/11, I have to be that guy when traveling. I actually had a Jr. suffix, that vanished long ago.

  50. Welcome to the 21st century, America!

    And about time - the only time I've been affected by credit card fraud is when I've made charges in the US. Hopefully, that now ends.

    Because the idea of handing your credit card to anyone who would take it anywhere out of view has been anathema to the rest of the developed world for years now.

  51. Eat at a restaurant in Europe and when it's time to pay the server comes to you with a portable card reader and completes payment right in front of you. Your card never leaves your sight. It makes so much sense you might wonder why it isn't standard everywhere, but we won't get it here unless and until it costs the card issuers more not to have it. As long as they can pass along the costs of fraud to merchants and customers things will remain the same.

  52. Of course keeping your card in sight is not a panacea against fraud, but it's one step to take. Let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  53. When my daughter was in middle school, I taught her cursive. She spent a vast amount of her summer practicing writing out the alphabet and words to her favorite songs. Now that she is 18, whenever she has to sign paperwork (at the doctor’s office, for example) she uses cursive, and people are rather amazed that she knows how to actually sign her name. In my daily journaling, I still write in notebooks in cursive. It saddens me that this is soon to be a lost art. A signature, in many ways, defines a person. I cannot imagine the founding documents of this country absent the signatures of those who created them.

  54. If someone steals my card and forges my signature, the forged signature is proof that I did not make the purchase.

  55. Most register screens say "approved" after my almost-illegible "A" and almost always after the "A" plus a space and a start of the "W." As others with funnier "signatures" have noted, this does not inspire confidence in the purported safety feature of your signature.

  56. Livie: I would bet that most of us rely on far, far more than our signature to establish our identity, personal integrity and connection to our parents.

  57. It's been obvious for a long time that the signature for credit card purchases was meaningless. It has been years since I bothered to use my actual signature on the electronic pad rather than a fast squiggle to get out of the store quickly.

    What consumers really need to do to protect themselves against fraud is to carefully review the charges that come through. The easiest way to do this is to make sure that you use charge cards that immediately send a text, an email, or both to you after a charge is processed. That service was a game changer for me – – no longer any need to pore over monthly statements trying to reconcile them with physical receipts.

  58. Can we get rid of tipping people next? Must we always lag behind Europe in improving service experience and transactions?

    I don’t think getting rid of the signature requirement for credit card transactions was the death knell for cursive. The (block letter) writing has been on the wall for a few decades now...

    I love cursive. I always will. There’s a beauty there. While I may not have to sign credit card transactions anymore I will still use it every day as part of expressing myself.

  59. Cursive is faster, too, because you don't pick up the point of your writing utensil with each letter. I can't imagine block printing a long essay test in a blue book.

  60. Big Deal!!!
    It's been the practice in other places, including Canada, for about a decade.
    Welcome to the 20th century......

  61. "Am I signing as Jonathan Hakim? Jonathan Daniel Hakim? J. D. Hakim? Danny Hakim?" This may sound like a rhetorical question, but Danny and other people may not know if you use different forms of your own name, those exemplars become "aliases" or AKAs in legal parlance. I once screwed up a real estate closing by not putting my middle inital into my signature on all the documents - and as you may know, that's a lot of documents. It's important you pick one "signature" and stick with it throughout your life.

  62. I can't remember the last time I signed the back of my credit card (probably a decade ago), so certainly no one could've checked it against my signature on a receipt. I just do a big 'D' and a squiggly line after it when signing anything unimportant like credit card receipts.

  63. Dunno how people like me in Europe handle it, but I’m not looking forward to the day when they take away my checkbook. What’s replacing the signature? A hot mess of URLs, usernames, and passwords, is what it looks like at this point, until something better comes along. I have a small business, small enough so I don’t have a bookkeeper, and I pay 30 to 40 bills a month, mainly with signed checks. Some of those bills could be put on autopay, but I need to know when the payments are made and how much, and in many cases I want to choose when the payment is made. For anything where I want to control the timing or the amount paid, that means I must log into some “secure” web site to make the payment, and as far as I can tell, that might be a different web site or a different online account for each bill I pay. That’s going to add a lot of time to my bill-paying efforts, compared to cranking out a batch of checks on my computer, stuffing them in envelopes, and dropping them into snail mail. With the current old-fashioned (but curiously efficient) paper-check method, my computer (via an app that does not communicate with the bank) keeps an accurate balance for my bank account, which I can then compare with the monthly statement from the bank. I am not ready to start letting my bank tell me what my balance is or doing without the “reconcile” process to make sure the bank and I are in agreement based on our independent views of the situation. Trust but verify.

    Call me old fashioned.

  64. All other advanced economies did away with signatures years and years ago. It's simply too expensive and slow to process cheques and credit card slips, and it cuts down on fraud.

  65. Cheques, sorry checks, are still in use here but now increasingly rare, and banks don't like them. Try cashing a check in a UK bank and be prepared for a lecture about how using the cash machine is better.
    For the last decade or so we have had "chip and pin" on cards; so no signature is needed - but you do have to remember your 4 digit pin number which seems OK. I was quite surprised when I visited New York in 2013 and had to sign card payment slips again. I had almost forgotten how to.

    Now we are moving to contactless for payments up to £25 - so even the Pin number is becoming obsolete. But tapping my credit card on a reader and not even getting a receipt is a step too far for me.

  66. So.... when are we going to get the "and PIN" part of the "Chip and PIN" system that the European's use? For at least a decade, I had been clamoring to my credit card cos., requesting a Chip card, so I could purchase basics on the continent, like train/subway tickets, gas on Sundays etc... but all these cashier-less transactions require a PIN. Our US Chip cards are still "Chip and Signature" -- in Europe I STILL need to use the cashier, and then sign the receipt....

    So. Will we ever get our PINs? Or are we to just hope that we never ever ever misplace our cards. For using them without either signature OR PIN sounds like a really risky financial transaction. Perhaps not even recognized as a contract?

  67. All my American credit and debit cards have PINs. Maybe you need another bank?

  68. In Europe, they require a PIN, rather than a signature for credit cards. Some credit cards may have a PIN associated with them, but they are not normally used or required for purchases. When I use the American card in Europe I still have to provide the scribble. We should have chip and PIN instead of chip and scribble.

  69. We do use chip and pin for debit cards in the U.S., but debit cards don't afford the benefits and protections that credit cards do. So yes, we need to lock-step with Canada and Europe. In China everybody pays via their personal QR code on their phones. This practice came about because mainland Chinese banks were antiquated and never retail customer-friendly. I'm not sure how safe that is, and besides, I like the credit card-related cash back and flyer miles, or the options to use a debit card or paypal if I so desire..

  70. There are still many situations that require signatures including class action waivers.

  71. I work in a vintage shop, and always appreciate the chatting that happens during the credit card process. Now the process will be shorter and there will be less time for these small but enjoyable moments of connection. I hope customers continue to tell me about their collections and interests. I enjoy it and they do, too.

  72. The US-style chip and scribble has been one of my standard mini-rants for several years. Good riddance. My other pet rant is the continued existence of pennies. If we can only get rid of pennies I will have nothing to complain about.