With all the news about massive data breaches in the biggest retail chains and the ever-present risk of online fraud, you may be wondering whether or not it is really a good idea to use credit cards at all.
Of course it is! After all, it’s much safer than carrying lots of cash in your pockets, and you have no viable alternatives when buying something online – be it a new smartphone app or a car.
So, banking cards are good, despite the possibility of security issues. You just have to make sure your “virtual pockets” are not wide open for a thief’s convenience. There's nothing like the feeling of snapping up a hard-earned bargain when shopping online. There's also nothing like the feeling of falling victim to credit card fraud. There are some tips for you to follow in order to protect your credit cards.
Selecting a proper card
There is no one-size-fits-all solution on the banking card market. There is AmEx, MasterCard, Visa, UnionPay, plus many local payment systems. There are credit and debit cards, which differ significantly on some markets. You may want to use two, three or even more cards for various occasions―each one is equipped with its own set of security measures. Credit cards are typically better protected on many levels. Banks utilize stricter security procedures while checking credit card transactions.
In many countries, credit card purchases are insured, and fraudulent transactions are never charged to a well-intentioned card owner. Moreover, criminals in some countries simply avoid dealing with credit cards as it poses higher risks of prosecution. However, none of these reasons cover everything, and there are no guarantees, so you can’t just select a credit card and forget every other security measure.
When selecting a payment system, consider the planned usage of the card. There are many “global” systems, but only MasterCard and Visa currently operate in almost every country without major white spots. For Europeans or people frequently travelling to Europe, MasterCard is probably the best option, as some ATMs in Europe accept only MasterCard. Notable exceptions are China (local regulations are strict, and the best option for China is obviously UnionPay) and Olympic cities (during the Olympics, official venues accept only Visa). More importantly, MC and Visa are leading the pack in terms of technology and security. Moreover, they are able to enforce security solutions in whole industries.
While the most important stuff you will be looking into while selecting your card are probably bank rates and offers, consider security measures as well. Check the “security advice” section of a bank’s website. There will be many general tips like “don’t give your card to strangers”, but you can also find a list of available security tools provided by this bank to its customers. Here is the list of useful security tools to watch for.
Card security tools
Simple safety rules
So, you have selected your bank and card and, hopefully, added all possible security measures. Using chip-and-pin card plus 3D secure and SMS notification greatly improves your funds’ security while paying both online and offline, but this protection is only effective if you exercise these other simple safety rules: