How to Set a Secure Credit Card PIN and Password
Follow These Tips for Creating a Safe Credit Card PIN and Password
Credit card security is extremely important because it helps you avoid becoming a victim of credit card fraud. When your sensitive credit card information lands in the wrong hands, it can be difficult and time-consuming to clear your credit reputation and remove your liability for the charges.
One way to prevent credit card fraud is to create hard-to-guess Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords for your credit card and online accounts. Be sure to keep these safe once they're created.
Learn more about setting secure PINs and passwords.
Setting a Secure Credit Card PIN
You’ll need a four-digit PIN if your credit card comes with the ability to take out cash advances. Sometimes your card issuer will send a PIN a few days after your credit card has been mailed. Or, you may be asked to select your own PIN when you call to activate your credit card.
When it comes to choosing your PIN, it's important you never make your PIN:
- Your date of birth
- Any of your kids’ or loved ones’ date of birth
- Your anniversary
- The first or last four digits of your social security number
- The first or last four digits of your credit card number
- Any four numbers that could be traced back to you somehow
Put some thought into the PIN you create. If it's easy for you to create, it's probably also easy for thieves to guess.
Setting a Secure Password for Your Online Credit Card Account
When you create an online account to access your credit card details, you'll be required to create a password that you can use to log in. Many credit card issuer websites give some password creation requirements that help you set a password that's hard for thieves to guess.
For example, your password will have to be a certain length, and you may have to include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, a number, or even a non-alphanumeric character like an asterisk, exclamation point, or dollar sign.
Here's what you should do to create a secure credit card password:
- Make it longer, ideally a minimum of 8 characters. It’ll be harder to guess.
- Mix upper and lower case letters within the password. Don't just use an uppercase letter at the beginning of the password phrase.
- Place punctuation or numbers randomly throughout the password rather than just as the beginning or end.
- Pick letters that are in different places on the keyboard. That way someone watching won’t be able to easily guess what you’re typing by watching your fingers.
- Be creative.
What You Shouldn’t Do When Creating a Password
- Avoid using words that appear in the dictionary, even if you spell them backward, abbreviate, or misspell them.
- Don’t use a sequence of letters or numbers. For example, abcd1234 is a bad password, as is 12345678 or abcdefgh.
- Don’t use a sequence of letters that are adjacent to each other on the keyboard, like qwerty1234 or asdfghjkl.
- Don’t use personal information like your name, date of birth, social security number, or personal information of your friends or relatives.
- Don’t use any password that you’ve seen used as an example of a good password.
- Avoid using the exact same password for several different accounts. Once hackers have guessed one password, they’ll often try to see if it works on your other accounts.
Your credit card issuer may also allow you to enable two-factor authentication, where you receive a one-time code via email, text, or push notification to confirm it's actually you trying to log in to your account.
Keeping Passwords and PINs Safe
Once you’ve created an un-crackable credit card password, the next step is to keep it safe. Don’t make it easy for hackers to get access to your password.
- Don’t write your password or PIN down, and especially don’t write it on your credit card or store it with your credit card.
- Don’t send your password or PIN to anyone via email or text message.
- Don’t give your password or PIN to anyone.
- Don’t say your password or PIN aloud in public where other people can hear you.
- Don’t have your browser remember your credit card password. Someone who steals your computer or phone could access your account without even knowing the password.
- Consider the pros and cons of storing passwords on a cloud-based service.
Always be sure to enter your password into the correct website. Phishing scams make fake websites that look like real ones hoping to trick people into entering their login or other personal information.
Check the URL in the browser bar to confirm you’re at the correct website, and be especially wary of entering your password into a website you landed at by clicking an email link.
Change your password periodically, such as every 90 days, and be sure you don't reuse passwords. If you believe your password has been compromised, change it immediately following the guidelines given above.