What Happens When I Don’t Sign My Credit Card Receipt?


credit card tips, credit card receipt, credit card

I was going through my receipts from the weekend when I ran across one from a restaurant. It wasn’t unusual to see the tip and total amounts filled in as I usually do that to both the copy I leave on the table and the copy I take home. What was unusual was that it also had my signature.

I had accidentally taken both copies of the itemized receipt.

Worried that by taking both the merchant and customer copies of the receipt I had skipped out without paying, I quickly called the restaurant and summarized the situation to a manager. He said that it wasn’t a problem because the amount of the check had been charged to my account when they swiped my card. Our server, unfortunately, would not get the intended tip since we had not left any indication of how much tip we wished to leave.

I had always been under the impression that the signature for a purchase was required for the transaction to be completed. After doing some research, it turns out that’s simply not true.

The Blame Game

All the signature does is help resolve who will eat the cost if there’s a scenario where fraud is in play. If a customer reports unauthorized use of their card and no signature was requested, then the merchant eats the cost. If fraud is reported but there is a signature, even if it’s signed by Mickey Mouse, the bank generally takes the loss because the merchant has shown they made an effort at validating the identity of the purchaser.

No Signature Required

The purchase is actually authorized as soon as the card is swiped, or in the case of cards with the new payment chip, as soon as the chip is scanned. Merchants are generally free to make their own policies regarding when they require a signature. Many merchants will forego the signature and not require one for smaller amounts because they believe the risk is small for fraud on low priced items. Others will not only require a signature but also force you to present ID to match the signature for every single purchase.

Fraud Doesn’t Pay

With this information, someone may get the idea to buy a bunch of stuff, not sign the receipt, and then report fraudulent use of their card.  Because there is no record of their signature, a person might think that the charges will be reversed and someone else (the merchant most likely) will have to swallow the cost of the item. Unfortunately for our example criminal, there will likely be a security camera that captures the transaction on film.

Next time you buy something with your credit card, observe whether a signature is required. If it is required, try signing it illegible or with a completely different name. Chances are, the cashier isn’t looking because the merchant is going to get their money anyway.

Have you ever accidentally left the scene of a transaction without signing for your purchase? Did it go through? How much was it for?

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Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • @MoneyBeagle – unfortunately we couldn’t…we had returned home and were several hundred miles away. I felt bad about it….but not much I could do.

  • My husband was on a snowmobile trip 3 hours from home he called me and said the truck wouldn’t start so I went to pick him up on the way I got lost and stopped at a police station hysterical and in tears because I couldn’t find the place I was supposed to meet my husband I called home to ask our roommate if he had heard from my husband and he said he’s standing right here next to me so here it was 3 hours from home no gas no money and in tears needless to say I did not want to speak to my husband so I hung up the phone the police officer took out his wallet and handed me money and said here go get some gas get some food and go back home I was absolutely amazed at what he done and thankful that he did before I left I had asked another officer for his card he gave it to me the moment I got home I put money in an envelope more money than the officer gave me because I was so thankful I guess you could consider it a tip for him going out of his way and helping me no matter what the situation is if you really wanted to make sure that the server got his tip you could have mailed it to the manager these days when people go above and beyond to help someone out yes they are thankful but very little is done to reward them for going above and beyond even if it was a job and they were just doing what they were supposed to the officer did not have to give me anything to help me out but he did he went above and beyond what his job called for and I wanted to make sure he was rewarded for it although he sent me the extra money back and said he was just doing his job I believe that he went way above and beyond to help me that day if you think that the server did a good job maybe you could still send the manager his tip it says a lot about a person when you see how far they go to get something done

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