Refunds On Numberless Cards

There have been a number of occasions when I’ve gone in to shops for a refund where they say they will only refund to the same card I made the payment on. They confirm this by checking the last 4 digits of the card. I suspect having no numbers on the card is going to cause issues in this scenario? If these cards supplement your pre-existing cards, then this is fantastic! If it’s to replace, then I can see a couple of issues and will probably stick to my normal card for the odd situations where the numbers will be necessary.

1 Like

I’m pretty sure that the Visa and Mastercard rules do say that card numbers are not supposed to be used for this, so this behaviour isn’t supposed to happen anyway.

There are already loads of reasons why you might not have exactly the same card or card number, like if you just had your card re-issued with a new expiry date (which often means the card number changes) or if you had your card lost/stolen between buying the item and returning it.

There are also situations, like if you used a mobile wallet to make the purchase, where you either won’t have a physical card to present (try explaining that to a technophobe cashier that doesn’t understand how mobile wallets work) or where the physical card will not match the card number in the system due to tokenisation.

It’s stupid and annoying to use this technique and if a shop tried to pull it on me I’d think twice before shopping there again, as I would consider them far too annoying to bother with.


A quick google shows there are many stories of people facing exactly those issues and having to request a manager to approve the refund.

Most store policies are to only refund to the original tender and they do this by checking the receipt and the card number used. Having no card number will make it even more trickier in these scenarios. Presumably they do this to reduce fraud and money laundering (buy £1000 tv on a your card, refund to another friends card.).

I understand with mobile pay, and various apps that do have different looking card numbers after each transaction, there are already issues currently, I’m just unsure the world is ready for numberless cards until they’ve got a handle on all the other scenarios!

You’re right that this is a massive issue already, but with that said I also think it might be the case that increased adoption of mobile payments + the start of some trailblazing numberless cards like Curve and Apple Card (which I am sure will be a growing trend as, for the cardholder, it really reduces the chances of fraud occurring or your card details getting into the wrong hands) will see this outdated practise being dropped by shops.

If you have the original receipt, then they should not need to see any other proof of purchase. If they ask for other details, they are just being awkward and providing an unnecessarily poor customer experience.

If you don’t have the receipt, they should accept something like a bank statement which matches the price and shop name, which would actually be just as likely to be genuine as matching the card number.

They only ever did this for ease for the shop staff, it had no advantage to the customer and in fact it went against all advice. You should, under no circumstances in the Europe region, ever need to give your card to anybody else. If you do, you are introducing a security risk (even with numberless cards like Curve, they couldn’t theoretically quickly make a contactless payment under the counter or something). Visa and Mastercard advice is that cardholders should never be required to hand over their cards.

1 Like

This was supposed to become a thing of the past with Chip & Pin cards - the terminals are perfectly capable of checking the card number if it actually matters to the retailer. There is no reason for a cashier to need to touch your card if it is Chip & Pin enabled - that was part of the point of it in the first place.

Which particular card you used is of no particular relevance to the accounting of the company - only that you paid by card.

It isn’t compulsory to even issue a receipt - how is the cashier supposed to know what card you’ve used when there’s no card receipt?

Retailers need to be called up on obtuse behaviour like this!

1 Like

There also the option to show the card number in the app

1 Like

How do they give a refund for a purchase made by Apple Pay or Gpay? The number of you physical card and the virtual one issued by Apple or Google are totally different and you cannot even see it in the app.

I returned something to a store last week
Bought with google pay
Used google pay for the refund too

I recived the money 2 days later

1 Like

Did they ask for the last 4 digits of your card?

I never heard something like this. In my country refund in shops are made directly in cash with appropriet receipt no matter in which way you paid for the product.
Interesting… :slight_smile:

Are you in Portugal? I remember hearing from @megamaster on here that that’s the case there. Very much not the case in the UK!

Croatia. Then this can be a real problem for you guys.

Spot on Seb. I think many shops and businesses are mis-interpreting the Mastercard/Visa/Amex anti-fraud/anti-moneylaundering advice that they should be satisfied the customer is authorised to use the card. In many cases this is probably down to poor training, too. Mastercard in particular is promoting ‘numberless’ cards so shops and businesses are just going to have to update their policies and training.


Exactly, it seems like it was simply the easiest way to check it was really the cardholder back when the assumption was that everybody had a standard embossed card where it was easy to check the number.

@andyk is right too, Chip and PIN was supposed to remove the need to hand your card over at all, so I bet this particular procedure is a holdover from magstripe cards. High time procedures are updated I say! If it takes numberless cards to force shops into it, then that’s what it takes.

If it’s really that important to the retailer that the person asking for a refund is the same as the buyer, they really should have a proper customer management system in place. If there’s no need for a proper customer management system, then a receipt should be enough to validate a return.

It strikes me that in the most part, these problems are caused by cashiers and retailers who are failing to keep pace with the requirements of card networks and/or creating rules that simply shouldn’t exist. Those retailers needs to be called out and made to work to the actual rules!

1 Like

Totally agree!

Frustrating though it may be I don’t blame the cashiers, after all they are only obeying orders which the retailers (maybe wrongly) believe they are following correctly.
As a slight aside ironically there is no guarantee that the refund will go to the original underlying card if the amount refunded does not match any of the transactions (i.e. partial refund) and more than one underlying card may have been used in the store. Isn’t it then purely a matter of guesswork/chance as to which card gets the refund anyway?

1 Like