As of 2006 this site is no longer being updated. Click here for links to more up-to-date information

Top ten queries

Advice guide for disabled cardholders

Why do we need chip and PIN?

Chip and PIN is a more secure way to pay with your debit and credit card. Instead of signing you now enter a secret four-digit PIN.

Chip and PIN has enabled more people with disabilities to use plastic cards than before. Research showed that the majority of disabled cardholders have welcomed chip and PIN and find it easy to use. The NOP* research found that 82 per cent of disabled cardholders like using chip and PIN and 70 per cent prefer it to signing.

However, if you have a disability that prevents you using a PIN alternatives are available. If you haven't done so already speak to your card company now to discuss your options. Most likely this will involve being issued with a chip and signature card that ensures that you will only ever be required to provide a signature. You will not be required to provide medical evidence to support your request.

Back to top

Will I be able to sign?

You will be able to sign in the following situations:

  • If you have requested and use a chip and signature card you will always continue to sign when you pay no matter where you shop. Should a retailer be unsure about accepting your chip and signature card ask them to insert the card in the terminal and follow the instructions provided - these will request signature rather than PIN.
  • If you are a cardholder with cards from countries that have yet to upgrade will always sign
  • If you are a cardholders with any cards that have yet to be upgraded to chip and PIN

Since Valentine's Day 2006 anyone with a chip and PIN card needs to know their PIN to be sure they can pay. If you need an alternative to PIN, make sure you speak to your card company. Tell them you cannot use PIN because of a disability.

If you don't know the PIN on your chip and PIN card you should not expect to be able to sign. You may need to provide an alternative method of payment instead. If you don't know your PIN or you are not sure if your card is a chip and PIN card contact your card company now - they will send you a reminder.

Back to top


What if I have trouble remembering my PIN?

  • If you find your PIN hard to remember, you can change it at most cash machines - just select the 'PIN services' option and follow the on-screen instructions.
  • If you change your PIN, don't use numbers too easily associated with you like part of your telephone number, or your year of birth as they are too easy to guess
  • Remember to find out the PIN on your credit card - as you are less likely to have used it in the past. You can ask your card company to send you a reminder
  • Avoid popular or obvious number sequences like 1234 or 9999 - random combinations of numbers are best and harder for a criminal to guess
  • Some people find it helps to visualise the pattern the numbers make on the keypad as they enter them
  • Try breaking your PIN into two lots of two numbers, for example 5641 might be remembered as fifty-six and forty-one
  • Combining numbers which mean something to you is always a good way of remembering - your youngest child's age (10) with your best friend's house number (23) for example

Back to top

What if I am a disabled driver?

Since 14 February cardholders must use their PIN to be sure of being able to pay with their chip and PIN cards. This does not affect anyone whose card has yet to be upgraded, or customers who have been issued with a chip and signature card. They will always continue to sign.

However, disabled chip and PIN cardholders who are unable to leave their car on a petrol forecourt will continue to be able to sign at some petrol retailers who have special procedures in place.

You can check with any petrol station to confirm their individual arrangements.


Further information & advice for disabled drivers paying with chip and PIN in a petrol station (PDF, opens in new window)

Back to top

Where can I find more information?

If you would like further information about the types of card that are available to you because you are unable to use PIN, you should contact your bank directly who will be able to provide you with an alternative.

You can find your bank or card company’s number on the back of your card or on your recent statement.

Back to top