Credit Cards

Tips, news, reviews, caveats, trends, updates and analysis related to consumer and business credit cards, and prepaid debit cards. From the interest rate specialists @

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Citi® Quick Lock

Citi Quick Lock
Citi Quick Lock

Citi® Quick Lock: A new and very welcome feature for my +Citi MasterCard®.

And because it is my habit to test everything, I tested it, and it worked perfectly.

I received a very rapid email from Citi when I locked and unlocked my card.


I have a business debit card with Chase®, and it would be great if the powers at Chase added this feature to it.  The card is connected with my business checking account so security is of the utmost importance.

And ditto for my Bank of America® business credit card.


Somewhat unrelated, but I just want to add kudos to both Citibank® and +Bank of America, because during the worst of the 2008 banking crisis and the subsequent Great Recession, both banks exercised decent and responsible banking with my credit-card accounts.  They did not:

  • Lower my credit limit(s)
  • Cancel my active account(s)
  • Force an interest-rate increase

During the worst of everything, my FICO® credit score either continued sideways or moved up, so I did not appreciated being treated like a subprime borrower by other credit-card banks, some of which no longer exist (go figure.)

Here's what my credit scores look like right now, provided by CreditKarma: TransUnion (808) and Equifax (811.)

Credit Scores
Credit Scores

 Responsible banking.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Where's My Smart Card?

Citi MasterCard with PayPass Sticker
Citi® MasterCar®d with PayPass® Sticker
I was so envious reading about people getting their new smart credit and debit cards from card issuers, and I was starting to wonder why the banks I deal with hadn't sent me new smart cards automatically (smart card, also known as smart chip cards, EMV cards and chip-enabled cards.)

The tiny chips in smart cards work together with smart-card terminals to create a unique and secure transaction at the point of sale, which makes shopping with these cards much safer than cards that only have a swipeable magnetic strip. 

I'm not interested in having a radio-frequency identification (RFID)-enabled chip in my credit and debit cards, because of this, but I am interested in upgrading to smart credit and debit cards without the RFID.

OK, so it seems that banks like +Citi® have figured how to keep wary cardholders like yours truly happy by separating the RFID from the EMV, via a sticker (pictured, top left.)  You can attach the sticker to your smart phone, or to your credit or debit card, or to anything you'd like to use for contactless payments (like your car's key fob.)  This system lets cardholders use contactless payment technology (either RFID or near-field communication [NFC]) if they want to, and opt out very easily if they don't.

I Just Ordered My Citi EMV Card

With my Citi Dividend World MasterCard®, I clicked the Account Management link in the top left navigation bar, which took me to a page where I found a link for Replacement Card/Chip Upgrade.  Alternatively, I could have waited for my current card to expire, at which point Citi would have sent me a new smart card automatically.

I'm looking forward to the arrival of this smart credit card, as it means no more handing over my card to strangers who may do bad things with it while it's away from my eyes.


Note that:

  • Even with smart cards that have no RFID technology in them, the system can still be hacked, but it's still much safer than the fading standard of magnetic-strip swiping.

  • I've read of people complaining that they can't execute a convenient cash withdrawal on top of a purchase when using their smart debit card.

  • Also heard that some merchants are rejecting the old magnetic-strip cards now, because if the transaction turns out to be fraudulent, it's likely that the merchant will have to eat 100% of the cost, whereas before the cost would often be shared between the card issuer and the merchant.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

How To Disable An RFID Chip In A Debit / Credit Card

Having an RFID chip in your credit or debit card can be a security risk, as posted here, so here's a YouTube clip explaining how to disable these chips permanently...

Cards that use RFID chips include Visa® PayWave®, MasterCard® PayPass®, American Express® ExpressPay® and Discover® Zip.

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Credit-Card Fraud, Xmas Shopping Seasons 2013

Target card swipe machine
Target card swipe machine
40 million was the initial estimate of Target customer card accounts accessed by scammers.

Now the estimate has been raised to 110 million!


I used to shop at Target many years ago.  It's been at least 4 years since I've been in a Target store.

But this news still makes me a bit nervous, because I have no idea how long Target keeps credit card info in their databases.

Most of my cards have new numbers now, but who knows.  These scam artists are scum, but they are not stupid.   

Back in 2008, I treated a new friend to lunch at Red Lobster.

I paid the bill with my Chase debit card, a card that's linked to my business checking account.

As is the custom in the USA, the waitress took my card, disappeared with it, then returned to my table for a signature.  She was acting a bit strange; shifting eyes and somewhat hurried, but I thought nothing of it.

And that was the first time I've ever been a victim of a credit-card scam.

That waitress used one of the widely available, and very portable, card readers, to get my digits.

I got my money back, after faxing a reasonably simple, but still annoying, form.

But the incident was a real wake up call for me.  Using the debit card attached to my business checking account for such transaction was something I would never do again, I pledged to myself.  Way too risky!

Now here's a very interesting difference between Europe and America: when you're ready to pay your restaurant bill with a credit or debit card, the server will bring the credit card terminal to your table!  Your card never leaves your line of sight.

         And that's the way it should be.

Europeans are also ahead of the game with their adoption of smart cards.  Comparing magnetic strip payment cards to smart chip cards is like comparing audio cassette tapes to a digital music player full of MP3's.

Neiman Marcus
Neiman Marcus
American credit-card banks have been resisting the smart card thing, which really doesn't make sense to me.  Surely the cost of upgrading is less than the cost of dealing with payment-card fraud!

Fast forward to today: luxury retailer Neiman Marcus reports a serious payment-card related breach.  All this card fraud seems to be focused on the 2013 Xmas shopping season.

Credit-card rewards be damned!  I think paying with cash will be king for many months to come...

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Very Nice Thank You from Bank of America

Bank of America Reward Debit Card
Bank of America Reward Debit Card
Apparently, Bank of America is very happy with the interest income they are making from me with my business credit card.  They sent me a generic, $25 debit card (Reward Card.)  Domestic use only!

How did I use it?  Some sushi for my daughter and yours truly.  It was nice.

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