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Credit cards play a major role both for those who use them for purchases and for merchants all over the world. There is always the threat of fraud on both ends of this spectrum, but there are trends coming in 2018 that all parties involved in the “plastic” exchange world should be aware of.

Credit cards can benefit and reward both business owners and card owners, but there are guidelines you should follow in order to ring in the New Year, build your credit score, and avoid transactions that can potentially turn into fraud.

1- Be Patient with EMV (Chip-Enabled Cards)

It has only been a couple of years since chip-enabled payment terminals became a prominent thing in the United States. This system is far from perfect and should be expected to have some bugs. Transactions are often slow and sometimes frustrating. It is human nature to want to get in, get out, and get on with the day.

However, advances in EMV technology are constant, so speed and accuracy will continue to grow, but that’s not the best part; chip-based cards make it extremely hard for hackers to gain access to person payment information, so it gives each transaction added security.

2- Gas Pump Awareness

Major credit card processors pushed the deadline for gas stations to cross over to EMV terminals from 2017 to 2020. This means that swiping your credit card will put you at risk to be targeted by skimmers. Hackers place a small chip on the back of the terminal and each time a card is swiped personal information is sent to whoever installed the technology.

Protect yourself:

4- Mobile Alerts

Large credit card companies allow you to set up mobile alerts. This allows you to detect fraudulent activity ASAP. When spending patterns don’t match your usual activity, such as large purchases or suspicious locations, an alert can keep both you and retailers safe from theft.

5- Freeze Your Credit

EMV cards have decreased fraud in the U.S. significantly, but hackers and thieves are smarter than they appear, personal information from breaches allows them to open credit accounts in your name. Regular checks of your credit report can help you avoid identity fraud and when you order a credit or security freeze on your card, this tells credit bureaus that you have not given permission for anyone to look at your credit score/file. Reputable lenders will most likely check a credit score prior to approving a loan, which will prevent credit-application fraud.

6- Avoid High-Interest Debt

If you’re already knee deep in this situation, your payment focus should start here. The Federal Reserve raises interest rates more often than you think, which causes “payment shock” for many. If you frequently carry a balance, start paying your credit card debt now.

7- Rewards Cards

For example, some major bank corporations help drive growth by offering rewards for card use. Bonus points are given to those that spend a particular amount of money in a specific amount of time. Travel, dining, and shopping points allow the cardholder to gain annual credit. However, this often benefits the banks and merchants, not the consumer, due to hefty annual fees.

Millions of rewards points go unused every year, making the fees a financial burden instead of, well… a reward.

8- Business and Personal Credit Scores

Your credit utilization counts for approximately 30% of your FICO credit score, so if you carry a balance, especially one that edges you towards your credit limit, it may actually be damaging to your score. Consider raising your limit. Recent surveys have shown that 8 out of 10 cardholders are approved for a credit boost, but only 26% bothered to ask.

By following these guidelines for personal or business related credit card transitions, you can move towards a secure and fraud-free New Year. When it comes to personal cards; stay on top of your purchases by signing up for alerts, for business-related transactions; make sure you are diligent when researching credit card processing companies… know the risks, be smart, and your credit card world will be safe.

Posted in Uncategorized on Dec 19, 2017