There is more to cards than Christmas cards

I have waffled on at great length about the future of Cash and cheques, and made noises about security of cards with inbuilt radiosonder, so what is a buyer going to do?
moneyWell, most people I know use a combination of all of these methods, paper, plastic and electronic payments including smartphones and some have regular bills direct debited automatically, e.g. power, phone, rates and many others like hire purchase, and some also use direct credit payments via on-line to pay suppliers.
What fewer people may have considered is

whether there are fishhooks to contend with in each of these forms of payments, do you worry about the cost of a particular form of payment or on what kind of protection you have if something goes awry with your payment.

There is also the straight forward thieving of account information, and new ways of dipping into your personal account are invented every day so it pays to be vigilant and consider these matters.

creditcardsYou may be lucky and never have a card stolen from you, and you most likely may have more than one card, the credit card, perhaps more than one, the debit card or Handy Card, the prepaid credit cum debit card, the airpoint card that stores currencies and a number of other card types; the thing about them is they all look much alike until you lose one or have it stolen, then the likeness has ended.

At this point the loss at best may have cost you nothing or at worst the thief has emptied your bank account. It also depends on what kind of card it was. If a Debit Card then you are typically at greater risk than if it was a Credit Card because of the legal protection offered by the Card issuer in the event of a loss. Moreover, Debit cards transactions draws directly from your bank account so the stolen money remains stolen while you and your bank try to sort out the details, and meanwhile you can’t pay for anything so you could be behind with hire purchase, mortgage, face rejected cheque payments and many other problems.

It is also true that we use debit cards/handy cards for the majority of retail purchases, and

An HSBC Solo debit card issued in the UK in 2007

cash is also popular for the smaller items, followed by credit cards, but longer term we know that the cards will be the dominant force in retailing with cash and cheques fading quietly out of the picture eventually.

Do check the booklet your bank provided you with when it issued your card, be it a Debit Card or a Credit Card, know your rights and the laws governing each and, importantly, your obligations as well. Make sure you know how to report a theft and check what part if any of the loss you carry yourself.

Rules do differ from Bank to Bank, so if you hold more than the one card, and from different issuers, make sure you check the rules pertaining to each.

There are of course many plusses from using Cards. Credit cards give you extended time to pay at no extra interest provided you pay the card bill on time, and the annual cost of providing you with a credit card varies a great deal with issuer and level of credit you are able to call on. Whatever the amount it is in fact a loan for 30 or more days interest free. Some gives rewards like airpoints, some may offer free insurance cover on rental cars, and you can use them overseas to have purchases charged back to New Zealand. If you have bought something that turns out not to be what you ordered, or is defective, or you have been billed in error you can easily stop payment to the vendor by letting your bank issuer know.

Cheque Google

Cheque Google (Photo credit: José Manuel_)

Your preference may still be with the Debit Card which is a lot easier than writing out a cheque and can be used almost anywhere. Furthermore you are not tempted to spend more than the money in your account. You do not have the option of stopping a payment if things have gone wrong.

Gift cards

There are still other types of cars, like gift cards [prezzies] and stored value cards that have separate and special conditions, e.g. relating to length of validity, and whether additions can be made later, but that‘s another story.

For those of you who have attended SeniorNet Kapiti’s workshops or courses dealing with security of your computer and on-line banking will already have a fair knowledge of how to protect your assets and if you haven’t it is never too late.

See you soon!

Happy computing.