Has Tap-to-Pay Made Spending Too Easy?

It’s becoming commonplace to have apps on our phones and watches that allow us to tap at retailers to pay for goods and services. Some consumers even leave their credit cards or cash at home and rely on these tap-to-pay platforms.

But, does all this convenience come with risks? Whether it’s paying for a meal at a restaurant, covering costs for beauty services, or paying for clothing or groceries, using tap to pay on your phone can result in overspending. Keep reading to find out what three money experts have to say about balancing the new technology and healthy spending behaviors.

How Tap-to-Pay Works

Tap-to-pay is a contactless payment method that allows a customer to pay for transactions by tapping, waving or hovering their credit card or mobile device within close range of a payment machine, Emily Irwin, Wells Fargo’s senior director of advice, said in an email.

“You may have been issued a tap-to-pay credit card, which has a Wi-Fi-looking symbol on it, or, if you don’t have one, you can load your credit card information into your mobile device and use it to make secure tap-to-pay transactions,” Irwin said.

Is the Convenience of Tap-to-Pay Encouraging Overspending?

According to Irwin, tap-to-pay creates an almost frictionless payment experience for the customer, meaning it’s fast, easy and convenient.

“Tap-to- pay can be problematic for someone who has impulsive tendencies because you have to control your ‘consumer fix’ through sheer willpower as opposed to the more practical and real barrier of not having cash or a credit card with you,” she said.

[READ: Why You Should Frequent Small Businesses – And Pay With Cash]

Ways to Reduce the Urge to Overspend

The convenience factor is here to stay, but consider these strategies to keep spending in check when making tap-to-pay purchases.

Don’t use tap-to-pay as your default payment method. While it’s slightly less convenient to pull your money clip out of your back pocket or dig through your purse to find your wallet, Irwin said the friction and time barrier that you’re creating can provide you with the micro-pause you need to reevaluate your purchase.

Understand when you use tap-to-pay. It can be advantageous to set your own parameters for when to use tap-to-pay. Consider using it only for necessary items like groceries or gas instead of discretionary purchases or purchases over a certain dollar amount.

“Believe it or not, the smaller purchases are often the ones that really add up and surprise consumers at the end of the month on their credit card statements,” Irwin said. Also, be cognizant of your tap-to-pay preferred method. “I’m not going to advocate for leaving your phone at home, but if your cellphone is your preferred method, you may want to remove tap to pay from your digital wallet,” she added.

Get back to basics. There’s also an old-school way to manage spending better. Old-fashioned cash might be a better choice for someone looking to stick to a tight budget or someone concerned about credit card debt.

Reduce impulsive shopping opportunities. Before making any impulse purchases, consider waiting at least 24 hours so you have time to think it through and determine if it fits in your overall budget, says consumer finance and money expert Andrea Woroch. “This will give you some extra time to compare prices online and even look for coupons.”

[Read: Inside the Psychology of Overspending and How to Stop.]

Tap-to-Pay Does Enable Parents to Monitor Kids’ Spending

Tap-to-pay has some features that make it easier for parents to monitor their child’s spending, including systems with transaction limits for added security, Todd Pollak, chief revenue officer of the card-issuing platform Marqeta, said in an email.

“Our platform allows card providers to approve transactions in real time and enables more customized spending limits and controls,” Pollak said.

[Read: Inside the Psychology of Overspending and How to Stop.]

Additionally, noted Pollak, tap-to-pay allows for a PIN to be required for transactions above a certain amount, providing an additional layer of protection against unauthorized use of the card and helping to track spending habits.

Do Tap-to-Pay Pros Outweigh the Cons?

From a technology and security standpoint, the pros of tap-to-pay can “definitely outweigh the cons,” according to Pollak.

“Tap-to-pay technology is versatile and can be used with various devices, allowing for quick and easy transactions from your preferred device, including contactless cards, mobile phones, smartwatches and other wearable devices,” Pollak said.

“The likelihood of losing your phone or device is less than losing your wallet, and if you do lose your phone, the device is locked and significantly more secure.”

He also noted that tap-to-pay has advanced security features like tokenization and encryption to protect sensitive card information.

“Many tap-to-pay systems have transaction limits and require additional authentication for high-value transactions, adding an extra layer of security to help reduce fraud and better track and manage spending,” Pollak said.

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Has Tap-to-Pay Made Spending Too Easy? originally appeared on usnews.com

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