Skip to content

Spotlight on safety: How card issuers are protecting customers

Dec. 03, 2020
6 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

When you think "safety," your first thought probably involves physical wellbeing. In fact, last week's spotlight on safety as part of Airlines Week for the 2020 TPG Awards highlighted how carriers are keeping customers physically safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

But financial safety is also important. One of the reasons we advocate putting spending on a credit card — aside from the rewards you can earn and perks you can receive — are the protections that come with using a credit card over cash or debit.

New to The Points Guy? Sign up for our daily newsletter and check out our beginner's guide.

Today, I'm going to walk through the ways using a credit card — during the pandemic and when things are more "normal" — can help protect you financially.

For more highlights from the 2020 TPG Awards, make sure to sign up for our newsletter and check out our dedicated TPG Awards hub!

Fraud detection services

Thanks to legislation such as the Fair Credit Billing Act and the CARD Act of 2009, consumers are entitled to certain rights and protections when they use their card. Notably, the Fair Credit Billing Act protects cardholders from being on the hook for fraudulent purchases and gives cardholders avenues for disputing incorrect charges.

However, credit card issuers have gone beyond the minimum requirements in recent years, making it easier than ever to monitor and report for fraudulent behavior to protect yourself and your finances. Most issuers and payment networks use artificial intelligence (AI) to help catch fraud early. But if you lose your card or believe you may be the victim of fraud, issuers have also made it easier in recent years to report fraud and put temporary freezes on your cards to prevent further damage.

For example, Amex lets primary cardholders and authorized users freeze an account. While you won't be able to use the card on new purchases (helping to stop potential fraud), recurring payments such as autopay bills will still go through. This helps protect you without forcing you to change out half a dozen autopay credit cards across other accounts.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Related: Credit cards that offer a pause button and when to use it

(Photo by eclipse_images/Getty Images)

Travel and purchase protections

Another way using a credit card can help protect you financially is through travel and/or purchase protections that many rewards credit cards offer to cardholders.

Travel protections — such as trip cancellation and interruption insurance — can help save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars if something goes wrong during your travels. There are restrictions on what is covered or not covered (fear of traveling due to COVID-19 is not a covered reason under trip insurance, for example), but in many cases, using a card with travel protections like this can offer peace of mind and potentially really save you if the worst-case scenario happens while you're traveling.

Chase's Sapphire credit cards take the cake when it comes to these protections, offering an impressive lineup that includes travel accident insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, primary rental car insurance and more. But Amex has stepped it up recently, adding more travel protections across many cards at the beginning of 2020.

Related: Best cards with travel insurance

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Additionally, some cards come with purchase protections that cover you if an item is lost, stolen, or damaged. As you start holiday shopping for friends and family (or even taking advantage of deals for yourself), knowing you're covered can especially be a lifesaver for online purchases that are shipped to you.

Going contactless

Contactless credit card technology actually helps keep you financially and physically safe. While this payment option has been slower to catch on in the U.S., the 2020 coronavirus pandemic has accelerated its adoption.

Like EMV technology, contactless payments with mobile wallets or your tap-to-pay credit cards adds an extra layer of security when you pay with something called tokenization. When you pay with a contactless credit card, each transaction is initiated through a token. This way card readers only have access to a one-time token rather than your actual credit card number and details.

Contactless technology also provides a way for you to potentially limit your risk of contracting COVID-19 while you are out and about. By going contactless at your favorite merchants, you eliminate a touchpoint in the payment process. And the fewer touchpoints you interact with, the less likely you are to transmit or contract the disease.

Related: 6 ways to pay without touching anything

Bottom line

Rewards and credit card benefits are two things we talk about a lot at TPG. In fact, our TPG Reader's Choice Awards are all geared toward highlighting which cards offer the best earning rates, redemption options and other benefits for cardholders across certain categories. But rewards aren't the only reason you should be using a credit card to pay.

Card issuers have come a long way over the years in providing additional safety protections for cardholders, and I'm excited to see how technological innovations continue to improve safety measures for cardholders in the future.

Featured image by (Photo by wk1003mike/Shutterstock)

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

BEST FOR DINING AND GROCERY REWARDS
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

Earn 60,000 points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There’s a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It’s been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you’re hitting the skies soon, you’ll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there’s no reason that the foodie shouldn’t add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x).
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel.
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months.

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories.
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits.
  • Few travel perks and protections.
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
BEST FOR DINING AND GROCERY REWARDS
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.

    Earn 60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There’s a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It’s been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you’re hitting the skies soon, you’ll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there’s no reason that the foodie shouldn’t add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x).
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel.
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months.

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories.
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits.
  • Few travel perks and protections.