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Coronavirus PSA: You (probably) don’t need to sign that delivery receipt

The coronavirus pandemic has upended much of American life. What used to be easy or traditional comes with extra precautions, including how you should sign your credit or debit card receipt for takeout orders.

Many restaurants around the country are depending on call-in orders to keep their doors open. Some have devised ways to limit human interaction, such as placing pick-up orders in trunks and backseats of cars or allowing delivery people to leave food on front stoops.

But the mundane ritual of signing the credit card receipt remains at some restaurants, presenting a dilemma for those practicing social distancing. The good news: Signing the receipt is not necessary and hasn’t been for a long time.

“We’ve been reminding cardholders and merchants that signatures are no longer required under Mastercard rules to complete a purchase,” Kush Saxena, executive vice president of U.S. merchants & acceptance at Mastercard, told Cashay. “That means that if you politely decline signing for your pizza, your delivery guy will still get paid.”

Some restaurants are still requiring customers to sign credit and debit card receipts for takeout orders during the pandemic, even though they aren't required to. (Screenshot from Twitter)
Some restaurants are still requiring customers to sign credit and debit card receipts for takeout orders during the pandemic, even though they aren't required to. (Screenshot from Twitter)

Why aren’t signatures required?

In 2018, MasterCard adjusted its global standards to allow stores and restaurants the option to choose to require a cardholder’s signature on a receipt when accepting a Mastercard card, Saxena said.

Similarly, Visa and Discover told Cashay that they stopped requiring signatures that same year. American Express, which didn’t respond to Cashay’s request for comment, also reportedly reversed course on signing requirements at the same time.

“From a security standpoint, chip and contactless payments began to replace the physical signature,” Saxena said. “That said, while many large retailers have eliminated signatures, certain retailers still haven’t changed their approach.”

NEW ORLEANS: A patron uses a pen wrapped in paper to sign a credit card receipt at Angelo Brocato's Italian Ice Cream Parlor due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 19, 2020. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS: A patron uses a pen wrapped in paper to sign a credit card receipt at Angelo Brocato's Italian Ice Cream Parlor due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 19, 2020. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

But why am I still signing?

Some stores and restaurants may have older payment terminals that limit their ability to disable the feature that asks for a signature. In other cases, the store or its employees aren’t even aware that signatures are no longer required.

“Many do because they’ve not turned [the signature line] off,” Lori Hodges, vice president of North America risk for Visa, told Cashay. “The terminals just print out the receipts and the cashiers don’t know. So they don’t have to, but they do.”

Other stores or restaurants ask for signatures for their own purposes and are allowed to do so, Saxena said. For example, some jewelry or luxury stores print their return policies on receipts, and a signature is a way for customers to acknowledge those rules, he said.

What about the tip?

One reason restaurants may still require you to sign is because the practice gives you the opportunity to add a tip. And, during the pandemic era, tipping has become even more important. (Get the full 411 on that here.)

Saxena said you may want to consider tipping via online ordering for either delivery or curbside pickup orders. You can also ask to add the tip ahead of time over the phone, if you’re ordering that way.

If you’re still presented with a request for signature, and there’s no talking the restaurant out of it, bring your own pen to use during this time.

Janna is an editor for Cashay and Yahoo Money. Follow her on Twitter @JannaHerron.

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