How the Selfie May Limit Your Credit Card Rewards

Some people sign up for credit cards in the name of family members (who are willing participants) — they want the bonus miles, but spouse or sibling doesn’t want to deal with meeting minimum spend and doesn’t themselves value the miles.

Things get tricky when it comes time to cancelling, a male voice may have a hard time calling to cancel a woman’s card (so cancel by mail or online). And meeting minimum spend either needs to be done with an authorized user card, or online.

Point of sale transactions with a machine, rather than a person, are easy though. A gas station pump just needs your zip code, not to know whether you’re a man or a woman.

Things get even more complicated of course .

It may get exceptionally difficult to spend money on someone else’s credit card in the future, even when the person in question is willing. Because MasterCard is testing payment verification via selfie.

The card company is testing the new way to pay which involves the customer being asked to look at the screen and blink to confirm their identity and authenticate a payment.

Customers will be able to use the selfie method or a fingerprint with which to authorise a payment. The company is also looking at voice and heartbeat recognition as an alternative.

Google Android used to authenticate via facial recognition, but you could just use a photo of the person to access their phone. MasterCard’s requirement to blink is supposed to solve this vulnerability.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. As someone who often signs up (and uses) cards for my wife, I’ve wondered about this. If I call on the phone, even if my voice sounds like a man, if I know all the right answers to the security questions, would they challenge me. I mean I can’t imagine a customer service rep saying “excuse me ma’am but you sound like a man!” 😀

    Never tried it though…

  2. It’s just a limited pilot, and I doubt if it would ever see mass rollout. Imagine trying to use facial recognition in a dark bar or restaurant, … you’ll probably pull out your Visa instead. Regardless, as long as the person who enrolled their face is the one verifying their face, it would work fine. It’s not going to try to determine your sex on enrollment. Or, you could spoof it by taking a video of the other person, blinking a few times, then play back the video on one phone while doing the verification on another phone. It’s not a sophisticated “liveness” test.

  3. @Dan- I’ve called in on my wife’s card- they’ll usually ask something more general like “am I talking to the card holder?”. If you feel comfortable claiming to be your wife, I’m sure they will let you proceed.

    I would think that the “blink” selfie could easily be defeated by a short Vine clip…

  4. Is it possible to cancel by mail or online? Would be great to not have to have that conversation every time.

  5. FRT (of the sort used at airports) has been fooled by using video playback as a substitute for snapshot photo use.

  6. To mww:
    If your credit card ever changes terms, they’ll send something in the mail with a phone number where you can opt out and cancel the card. It’s all automated, no human needed to cancel. I realize it won’t work for most cases, but if the timing is right it works beautifully.

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