How can blind or partially sighted people use debit and credit cards more easily?

Paying by credit or debit card is a popular way to pay for goods or services but there are also other cards that might be easier to use if you're blind or partially sighted.

Chip and PIN card

Most credit and debit cards use a system called 'chip and PIN'.  Payments are authorised by inputting a four digit number into a key pad and pressing enter. The numbers on the pad are arranged like a telephone and there is usually a dot on key number five for orientation purposes. The 'enter' key is usually in the bottom right-hand corner of the key pad and is larger than the other keys.

Chip and signature card

If using a keypad is difficult then you can ask for a 'chip and signature' card, also known as a PIN-suppressed card, instead. All shops should accept 'chip and signature' cards because this is a classed as a reasonable adjustment to make their service accessible.

Contactless cards and devices

Most 'chip and PIN' cards are enabled with the contactless facility. Contactless is a fast, easy and secure way to pay for purchases costing £30 and under. Contactless payments can also be made via devices such as watches, smartphones and tablets.

Signature guides

Many banks and building societies now provide free signature guides. They are usually credit card-sized pieces of plastic with a cut out slot, which can be positioned over the signature line of forms and documents, to enable you to sign documents correctly. 

Speak to your bank

There are several options available to you if you have difficulty accessing your money. For example you may prefer to have one card to use at cash machines and a second card to sign for things in shops. To find out more about all the different options available either call your bank direct or visit payyourway.org.uk, which has impartial, practical advice on different payment options, including debit and credit cards.

You can also request a leaflet from them in an alternative format by calling 020 3217 8259 or emailing [email protected]

'RNIB approved' accessible bank cards

RNIB have worked with RBS and Natwest to develop an accessible bank card. The special cards feature a notch on the side to indicate which way up it is, 3 or 2 vertical braille markings to tell you whether it is a savings or debit card and larger useful telephone numbers on the back. If you are a customer of Natwest or RBS, contact your local branch for more information or request a card through your usual online or telephone banking.

Debt Advice

If you are struggling to make payments to/clear your credit card balance, having difficulty reducing an overdraft and struggling with any other debts, it is important to address this as there can be options available.

Further information and support can be found on Citizens Advice Bureau's debt and money webpage.

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