How to Safely Use Your Credit Card

Credit cards make shopping either online and offline super convenient, but this convenience also means there’s a possibility that your personal information (or even financial details) could be hacked.

Fortunately, there are ways you can avoid any credit card-related troubles that plague cardholders. To keep an eye on your finances, follow these steps:

1. Shop on Secure Websites.

Yes, the internet has paved the way for online shopping left and right, but this doesn’t mean all sites are created equal. Some are built exclusively to steal email addresses, credit card info, and even identities.

Choose to shop at retailers you’re familiar with. If you really want to order from a site you’re not familiar with, do some research to find out more about it.

2. Never e-mail or Write your Credit Card Details Anywhere.

Your financial information, banking credentials, account passwords and other sensitive data should all be kept confidential and for your eyes only. Writing these down on a piece of paper and emailing them to yourself can be dangerous because other people could access these details.

3. Avoid Posting a Photo of Your Credit Cards Online.

Let’s say you were super psyched you received your first-ever credit card and wanted to share this info with the world. You take a photo of your credit card and post it on Instagram or Facebook.

If a sketchy person is following your account and at least two important details of the card (such as cardholder’s name, card number, expiration date, CVC code) are shown, he/she can try to use these details to get a hold of your accounts or money.

4. Set up a VPN and Avoid using your Credit Card whenever you’re on Public Wi-Fi.

The best way to protect your credit cards when connecting to any public network is by equipping your phone or other mobile gadgets with a VPN (a virtual private network). VPNs protect your devices from hackers and dangerous malware and viruses.

5. When It Comes to Your PIN, do the Following:

  • Don’t share your PIN number with anyone.
  • Change your PIN password regularly.
  • Pick slightly complicated PINs that are not easy to guess. 1234, 0000, and other common PINs are some of the first combinations hackers try when they get ahold of your card.

6. Use Two-Factor Authentication.

Many ecommerce sites offer two-factor authentication, so take advantage of this feature whenever it is offered.  When you enable this feature (sometimes it’s already enabled for you), it adds another layer of protection after logging in with a username and password.

Also known as two-step verification, this security process requests additional “evidence” such as an OTP (one-time-password) sent via SMS or a code sent to your email, that shows your ownership of the account.

7. Set Up a Virtual Account Number

With a virtual account number, you mask your real card information and use a temporary card number for a particular online purchase. The stores would save your temporary card number on your order history, so if hackers obtain this information at a future date, your real card number wouldn’t be compromised.

It’s a pretty cool trick, but note that not all banks offer this feature.

8. Double Up on Protection.

Every credit card company has its own security add-ons, such as Mastercard Secure Code, Visa Secure, or Amex SafeKey, that work as an extra layer of security similar to two-step verification. The process may vary between brands, but the goal is the same.

You can also save your credit card details on services like PayPal or Apple Pay, which will then encrypt your information so you can pay any merchant without directly using your credit card number ever again.

9. Keep Your Devices Updated

A tried-and-tested way to ensure you’re safe from malware and security loopholes that give hackers access to your devices is to keep your devices up-to-date. Make sure the operating system of your phones, tablets, or laptops are all updated once new updates are available.

If you’re using banking or shopping apps, check for updates to these apps as well. Don’t wait for real issues to pop before you take care of these updates. Once you are notified of a newly available update, download it right away.

10. Double-Check Transaction History.

One way to identify discrepancies with your credit card spending is to be aware of notifications (either SMS or app push notifications) that tell you some weird activity is happening with your account.

You should also check your monthly credit card bill religiously. Every single transaction will be laid out for you on that document (even transactions you didn’t make yourself).

Should your card be compromised by hackers, you can stop it from happening by reporting to your credit card provider. If you’ve picked the best from numerous credit card options and received your first credit card, don’t begin using it just yet. Instead, make sure you’ve followed the tips above to avoid potential stresses in the future.