For many people, the credit card has become a constant companion in everyday life that they no longer want to do without. Whether in the online shop, in a restaurant or while traveling – payment by credit card is uncomplicated, fast and, moreover, secure. Still, some people are still suspicious of the credit card. The word “credit” should have a not insignificant part in this, since it usually combines the notion of interest burden and debt. But you can rest assured: When used correctly, the credit card is as cheap as other means of payment.
Globally accepted means of payment
The days when only a few hotels accepted credit cards are history. Plastic money has long become a common payment option. There are acceptance points all over the world. If you have a credit card from the major issuers, such as Visa or Mastercard, you can use it to pay for what you have to pay. In most cases the credit card should be accepted. It starts with the daily shopping in the discounter around the corner and also helps in many other situations: The shopping spree in the city with a credit card should be just as successful as the shopping tour on the Internet.
Not without a credit card
The internet is a global thing. And so you should have come into contact with online shops or services that are located abroad. American companies in particular rely heavily on credit cards and sometimes even only accept them as electronic means of payment. Then a credit card would be essential if you want to use the online service or shop in the shop. The Apple services iTunes, Apple Music and the app store are such a case.
Payment by credit card is not only possible with traditional shopping. The credit card has its origins in travel. And so it is also common and widespread in hotels, car rental companies, taxis, restaurants and cultural institutions such as opera houses. Finally, many online services can also be paid for with a credit card: online magazine subscriptions, video game downloads, music and film streaming. Most providers accept the plastic money.
Uncomplicated and quick at the checkout
Paying with a credit card is straightforward and does not differ significantly from checking card payments. The seller or – for example in the hotel – the receptionist pulls the credit card through the card reader. You then have to provide a signature as a cardholder. As a rule, the identity should also be confirmed with the identity card ; in practice, however, this does not always happen. Occasionally, on the other hand, it can happen that the PIN is requested when paying in the store, for example if the signature is illegible.
Pay with a click with your credit card
So-called contactless payment with a credit card is possible via Near Field Communication (short: NFC). The card itself does not even have to be removed from the wallet. The amount will be debited automatically as soon as the wallet with the credit card is in the checkout area. This enables even faster payment processing, for example at the supermarket checkout.
A larger TV for the living room at home, a bouquet of flowers for the mother, booking a rental car for the next vacation: In times of the Internet, we are always just a few clicks away from giving ourselves or our loved ones a little pleasure. The credit card is also a common method of payment for online purchases. Then the usual credit card details are requested or they are already stored in your own user account due to previous purchases.
A signature, as is required in the retail store, is of course not provided online. Instead, when making purchases as a cardholder, you must provide the credit card number, your name, and the card’s expiration date. The card verification code is also requested. The purchase can only take place when the seller has all the credit card details.
How safe is it?
Basically, credit card payment is a safe bet. In recent years, better and better security standards have been developed to prevent fraud and the associated loss of money. PCI (abbreviated to Payment Card Industry Date Security Standard) is such a security procedure. From a certain size, selling companies must participate in this process and protect their digital systems according to specified guidelines.
Additional security standards are added to online purchases, for example 3-D Secure, which is implemented in Visa with the Verified by Visa service and in Mastercard with SecureCode. And querying the card verification code (CVV or CVV2 for Visa, CVC or CVC2 for Mastercard) also makes online purchases more secure. Because this code does not appear on any credit card statement, but only on the card itself. If you lose a statement, fraudsters cannot use it to make purchases online on your account.
Card blocking in case of loss
An important security aspect is ultimately the possibility of having the credit card blocked quickly in the event of loss or theft. This can be done in several ways and in the shortest possible time. You can have the card blocked by your bank, credit card company or by a central emergency service. Since you have to enter your card details here, it makes sense to write them down in advance. If you act quickly, you may not lose any money. Cash on the other hand, which you had in your wallet, would definitely be lost if your wallet were lost. The advantage of plastic money is also evident here.
Credit card payment costs
In principle, payment by credit card is free at most banks. However, whether there will be any costs afterwards depends on the type of credit card you are using. For batch, debit and prepaid cards, all payments are debited immediately or at the latest at the end of the month. So there is no loan interest. The situation is different with revolving cards. With these payments in installments are possible; accordingly, loan interest is due on the outstanding amount. The following applies to all cards (except prepaid): If you slip into the overdraft facility of your account, the usual overdraft interest will of course apply.
Foreign currency fee abroad
Using the credit card abroad is not necessarily associated with additional costs. For most providers it is crucial whether you pay in a foreign currency (i.e. not in euros). When shopping outside the dollar zone – and by the way also when withdrawing money – foreign currency fees are usually incurred. And even if you use an internet shop that uses a currency other than the euro, the fee will be charged if you pay online with your credit card. If you pay attention to such factors, you avoid unnecessary trouble when looking at the next credit card statement.
Quickly pulled out, clicked quickly
Practical when strolling through the city, uncomplicated when buying online, essential when traveling: the credit card is an integral part of everyday life. Most credit cards are suitable as a method of payment. But not every card offers the services that everyone wants. And actually not all people want the same thing. One provider may incur higher foreign currency fees than another, but they may charge a small fee for cash withdrawals. If you are looking for a (new) credit card, you should first compare the services of the credit cards. That is the first requirement if it should also fit in the end.