Photo: Flickr / CarbonNYC
When it comes to shopping around for a credit card, companies know exactly where to lay the bait: It’s all about putting sexy offers like low (or no) interest rates and cash-back rewards upfront and centre.There’s no denying those perks are one of the many reasons it pays to have a healthy credit score these days.
But the next time you’re deciding which plastic to put in your pocket, you’d do yourself an even bigger favour by checking out this one section: Security liability.
This is where companies tell you exactly how much you’ll be responsible for any fraudulent activity on your account. The U.S. leads in the nation in credit card fraud, so unless you plan on carting around you wallet in a steal lock box, chances are you’ll play the victim at one point or another.
“The playing field for (credit and identity theft) is certainly widening,” says Chris Mettler of CompareCards.com. “Features like zero liability and credit report monitoring can help save consumers a lot of time and money in the face of various security threats, so they really warrant careful consideration before deciding on a deal.”
For one thing, many consumers think debit cards are interchangeable with credit cards, but it makes a big difference when you start talking about liability issues. Some banks don’t offer the same protection for debit transactions as they would for credit purchases.
Just take MasterCard and Visa, for example: Neither of them offer protection for PIN-related transactions (i.e.: debit cards.)
We asked Mettler and his team of card comparison experts to come up with a list of tips consumers can use to be sure they won’t be left footing the bill.
- Call the company and ask. If you’re an existing customer, companies might already have protections you never knew about. They’ll also answer questions for potential customers.
- Look for red flags. Per Mettler: “Most large credit card companies that target consumers with good to excellent credit will feature ‘protection from unauthorised purchases’ as part of their main selling points. If you don’t see this information within the main features of a credit card, this should raise a red flag.”
- Ask for alerts. Many banks and credit companies push out texts and emails the minute suspicious activity shows up on your account. (See how this feature saved me from losing major cash this year.)
- It shouldn’t cost a dime: Zero liability protection should be provided at no extra cost, Mettler says.
- Know how long you have to report fraud. Some companies will only give you a month or two to file a report.
Here’s a list of their top picks for the best security offerings out there right now: