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What does $0 fraud liability mean? Here's a breakdown of credit card fraud protection terms
Select explains the different fraud protection programs card issuers offer so you can make sure you have the protection you need.
The Chase Slate® and Chase Freedom® are not currently available to new cardholders. Please visit our list of the best balance transfer cards, the best cash-back, and best Chase cards for alternative options. The Wells Fargo Platinum Card is no longer available on Select. Please visit our list of best balance transfer cards and best Wells Fargo credit cards for alternative options.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
When the American unemployment rate surged this year, financial experts warned consumers to stay on the lookout for an uptick in fraud.
In an economically scarce climate, hackers and scammers are more likely to attempt fraud like identity theft and phishing scams. And even everyday consumers are more prone to attempt an ambiguous form of scamming known as friendly fraud, which poses a troubling problem for already struggling small business owners.
Using a credit card that comes with top-notch fraud protection is one way to ease concerns. From complimentary credit monitoring to $0 liability, most major card issuers have made it standard to provide features that give you more protection than debit cards.
Below, Select explains the different fraud protection programs card issuers offer, so you can make sure you have the protection you need. The list is not exhaustive, so we recommend you search your card issuer's website to see a full list of its safety features.
Card issuers with $0 fraud liability
Under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), you can only be held liable for up to a maximum of $50 in the event of fraudulent charges on your credit card account, as long as you report it within 60 days. However, a number of major issuers take this a step further and guarantee zero liability with the caveat that you have to act quickly when something's not right.
Since zero-liability guarantees are dependent upon how fast you report fraudulent charges, many of the below issuers also offer 24/7 monitoring to watch for suspicious activity. Each issuer has their own parameters as to what's considered suspicious, but they usually flag the account when there are large purchases made far away from where you live, or a series of uncharacteristic purchases made back-to-back. Card issuers often send secure messages, text for a confirmation or sometimes even call the primary cardholder to verify that suspicious transactions are legitimate.
Below are three major card issuers who guarantee $0 liability.
In the fraud protection guarantee, Amex states that you'll be off the hook for fraudulent transactions when you take what it refers to as "reasonable care." There's no set timeline, but Amex does provide a list of what actions it looks for when evaluating your case. Reasonable protective measures include:
- Contacting Amex as soon as you realize your card or device on which your account information has been added has been lost or stolen
- Advising Amex if a renewal card has not been received
- Advising Amex if someone else learns of your PIN or code
- Contacting Amex if you suspect that your account is being misused
- Protecting your PIN, code and device access from others, including your family and close friends
- Practice safe computing (e.g. use encryption, virus scanning software, firewall, anti-spyware software and other similar safeguards)
Remember: Disputing a charge within 60 days protects you under the FCBA, but the sooner you act, the better.
Some popular American Express cards include:
- Best cash-back card: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Best no-annual-fee card: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (see rates and fees)
- Best travel card: American Express® Gold Card
- Best luxury card: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Best small business card: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Bank of America
Bank of America guarantees that all pending fraudulent charges, when reported promptly, can be reimbursed as quickly as one business day. But if you don't catch the transaction before it posts as completed, you'll have to file a claim and possibly submit documentation to prove the fraud. Do this within the FCBA's 60-day window, and you should be in the clear.
If you have the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card or others, it's good to know you can relax and know you're protected.
Chase cardholders can call the number on the back of their card and report an unauthorized charge as soon as you detect it. According to Chase's website, you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information.
Some popular Chase cards include:
- Best cash-back card: Chase Freedom®
- Best no annual fee card: Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Best balance transfer card: Chase Slate®
- Best travel card: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Best luxury card: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Best small business card: Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
Credit cards that let you freeze your account
Not to be mistaken for freezing your credit, freezing or locking your credit card is a helpful way to keep someone from using it when you've lost or misplaced it.
The best-known program in this category is Discover's Freeze it® feature that lets cardholders freeze their accounts through an on/off switch within the mobile app. This stops all purchases, cash advances and balance transfers until the card is turned back on.
Similar to Discover, Bank of America has a Lock or Unlock mobile feature. To temporarily lock or unlock your account, you'd logon to your mobile app and follow the instructions below:
- Go to Menu
- Select Manage Debit Card/Credit Card
- Select the card you want to manage
- Toggle to Lock or Unlock under the card image
Credit cards with free credit score monitoring
While free credit monitoring is not going to detect immediate fraud, it will alert you if you have a sudden change in your credit score, which can sometimes mean that someone has been making unauthorized charges with your card.
CreditWise® from Capital One offers free credit score monitoring whether you are a Capital One customer or not. This service not only keeps track of your credit score, it also scans the dark web for your personal information. With its credit simulator tool, you can see how paying off a card, adding a new line of credit or closing an old account would impact your score. You can also check to see what might happen if you had to default on payments or pay off only a portion of your debt.
Capital One also guarantees zero-fraud liability under the following conditions: If it turns out a suspicious charge wasn't something you authorized and was the result of your card being lost or stolen, Capital One has you covered. With $0 Fraud Liability, you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges.
However, the card issuer states that $0 Fraud Liability is subject to verification and investigation.
Some of Capital One's top cards include:
- Best for cash back: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Best for dining, entertainment and food delivery: Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card and the no-fee Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Best for travel: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the no-fee Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
- Best for average credit: Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Best secured: Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
Credit cards with virtual card numbers
For online shoppers, virtual card numbers are a game changer. Citi helps make your real credit card number more difficult to steal by generating a random number for you to use when you shop on the internet.
You can create a different number for each website that you shop online. All of the decoy numbers link back to your main credit card account, but they keep your card number safe from phishers and other fraudsters. And in case someone does manage to steal it, you can simply get a new virtual number without having to replace your physical card.
Below are some of the most popular Citi cards:
- Best cash-back card: Citi® Double Cash Card (See rates and fees)
- Best no-annual-fee card: Citi Rewards+® Card
- Best balance transfer and no late fee card: Citi Simplicity® Card
- Best travel card: Citi Premier® Card (See rates and fees).
- Best luxury card: Citi Prestige® Card
Contactless credit cards
Contactless cards are fast becoming the safest way to pay — for more reason than one. Not only do they slow the transmission of germs, they also contain an encryption technology that transmits your credit card information faster and more securely.
Wells Fargo shifted to contactless cards in March 2019, and going forward, all new Wells Fargo credit cards will have this technology.
Our top picks for best Wells Fargo credit cards include:
- Best cash-rewards card: Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card (see rates and fees)
- Best balance transfer card: Wells Fargo Reflect® Card (see rates and fees)
Knowing the ins and outs of your credit card's fraud protection features is the best way to prepare for unwanted surprises. Our list is an overview of the most common terms and features, but we recommend you search your card issuer's website and read your benefits guide to see a full list of your card's safety features.
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- The difference between preapproval and prequalification, and how they both protect your credit score
For rates and fees for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, click here
Information about the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, Chase Freedom®, Chase Slate®, Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Secured Mastercard, Citi Simplicity® Card, and Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.