Credit card myth: Showing ID at the register

There are several myths connected with credit and debit card use, and some arise from actual experience and cases of identity fraud.

One example is the fear that someone might steal your card details. The best way to avoid this is by ensuring that your card is never out of your sight. Never allow anyone to take your card away, and never give anyone your pin number. All reputable businesses will have a card machine either on the counter or in hand, in the case of a restaurant. Details can be entered, and your pin typed in, privately of course, with your card clearly in sight.

When using cards online the secret is to ensure the site you are using is secure. Every web server has its own security symbol to check before entering personal details. However by glancing at the url of a payment page, you can check the security. So long as the url begins with https, you are safe.

Some retailers or businesses may claim a need to see your ID before accepting your card, but this should not be necessary. Your card itself is a form of ID, carrying a personal chip with details which only your card provider can read. There is no reason to give out your address or phone number for example, unless perhaps a delivery form needs to be completed.

There are some countries which lag behind a little in card use protocols. For example, in Spain it is still necessary to sign a slip as well as tapping in your pin, although in most other countries this is no longer required. It should be noted however, that if your card is in a currency other than that of the country where you are paying, some sort of ID may be required, and normally a passport or driving licence will suffice. There should be no reason for an ID to be demanded in your home country.

If you are using a card for the first time and not sure of the process, or a little suspicious of risk, caution is always sensible, but most, if not all banks will deal with your transaction correctly. If there should be a problem it is useful to remember that all major card providers carry insurance cover. They can be contacted very easily and quickly in case you have a worry, and it is a good idea to have their contact details handy at all times.

It is important to note the difference between a credit card and a debit card. Either can carry the Visa, MasterCard or other logo, so this can be a source of confusion. Use of a debit card takes money directly from the bank account to which the card is attached; whereas a credit card purchase will appear on your next credit card account, to be paid either immediately or later, as you prefer.

Both cards will carry a limit, particularly relevant when using them at ATMs. Debit cards normally carry a maximum daily withdrawal limit, and something like 200 of the local currency per day is common, whereas credit cards carry an overall spending limit which can sometimes be increased upon request to the card provider.

Debit and credit card use is much safer than it used to be, particularly with the major card providers like Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Amex. Although each individual provider’s specific terms of reference may vary slightly, they will be very similar and it is always good practice to read them carefully before signing an agreement to carry and use any card.