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Q: I mainly use checks to make purchases because I thought they were safer. But a friend just told me that credit cards are safer. Which is true?
A: Your safer bet is probably a credit card.
There are safety risks with each, and possibilities of each getting into the wrong hands.
With credit cards, hackers can access companies’ records of your credit card number and can use that to make thousands of dollars in purchases before you even know what hit you.
With checks, anyone who gets their hands on the check can see all of your account information and can use that to gain access to your checking account. It could also get lost in the mail, and end up in the wrong hands or land you a late fee.
So neither method is risk-free, but if something does happen, it’s easier to get your money back with a credit card.
Depending on how quickly you report it, you might not have to pay any of the charges (so report it as soon as you notice your card missing or strange transactions showing up on your bill). That’s the main way that credit cards are safer.
Credit card information may be easier for hackers to access, but your liability is very limited.
Besides that, credit card companies have fairly sophisticated methods of detecting fraudulent use.
You may notice this if you ever travel abroad and try to make a purchase, only to have your card declined when you know you have plenty of funds available. In that case it would be a hassle, but when it comes to fraud, this protects you.
That doesn’t mean you should never use a check again.
Just be careful that your checks don’t go to people you don’t trust.
We all have our preferred payment methods, and sometimes a check might be the most convenient one for you. In the end, it’s up to you what you use, but hopefully now you can make an informed decision.
Credit Shout is a community of personal finance experts dedicated to helping you save money and make smart financial decisions. Learn how to master your credit card rewards, improve your credit score and start eliminating your debt.