Money

American Express says you'll no longer have to sign after using your credit card

Paying with plastic is often viewed as more convenient than paying with cash. Now, for American Express cardholders, paying with plastic just got even easier.

That's because the New York-based payments firm is doing away with a rule that required merchants to ask customers to sign their receipts. The move will take effect April 2018, according to an AmEx press release.

Competitors Mastercard and Discover also eliminated the requirement this year.

Signing a payment slip after you make a purchase is meant to prove that you agreed to the billed amount and to protect the merchant in the case you decide to dispute the charge.

However, "the payments landscape has evolved to the point where we can now eliminate this pain point for our merchants," Jaromir Divilek, American Express executive vice president of global network business, says in the release. "Our fraud capabilities have advanced so that signatures are no longer necessary to fight fraud."

The change, which applies to all retailers that accept AmEx, comes in addition to similar policy changes the company has already made, such as the elimination of signature requirements for purchases under $50 in the United States, $100 in Canada and 30 euros in the United Kingdom. Merchants still have the option to collect signatures.

According to the release, this move aims to help streamline the checkout experience for consumers and reduce merchants' operating expenses associated with making people fumble with pens at the register.

"The need for signatures has declined around the world due to a number of advancements in the payments industry," the release says. "These include the growth of contactless payment options, including card-based and mobile tap-and-pay methods, the global adoption of EMV chip technology and the continued expansion of online commerce."

"We can now eliminate this pain point." -Jaromir Divilek, American Express EVP of global network business

Moves by major firms to streamline payment come as third-party payment methods like Venmo, are growing in popularity. A study of more than 2,000 Americans found that, when given a choice between paying someone with cash or with an app, 47 percent of respondents would choose the digital option.

Millennials most prefer going online: 49 percent say they have made virtual payments compared to 44 percent of those in Generation X and 32 percent of baby boomers.

While this change by AmEx, Mastercard and Discover could make paying with plastic a frictionless experience, if you're using a credit card, you still have good reason to be cautious. Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban's advice is to stay away from cards to the extent possible because of high interest rates.

He has a point: The typical credit card charges more than 16 percent interest, so not paying off your balance in full each month could cost you. Using plastic can also cost you an extra dollar or two what with surcharges and fees, like the way a movie theater charges you to buy tickets in advance.

If you are committed to using plastic, be sure you're using it responsibly. And remember that there are good arguments for carrying and relying on cash instead. For starters, since it's "more painful" to watch your physical money disappear, you could find that using cash leads you to spend less overall.

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Video by Andrea Kramar