If you stick to the most important tips for using credit cards, you can feel safe when making cashless payments. Image: iStock

You've probably already experienced it: you're on vacation, enjoying a good meal at a restaurant, when you realize there's no cash in your wallet. But that's no problem because you have your credit card...

These elegant, colorful cards are a great success story, with two-thirds of Swiss households now owning one. There are some 6.3 million credit cards in circulation, and that number is rising all the time. This is hardly surprising given how practical credit cards are. They make shopping easier at home, abroad and on the Internet, and more and more store checkouts are now accepting contactless payments as well. Wherever you see the contactless symbol with the radio waves, all you have to do to make small payments is hold your card against the POS terminal and, hey presto, the transaction is complete.

Early warning system increases security

But how secure is the use of credit cards? Banks like UBS have sophisticated early warning systems which recognize suspicious transactions and thus prevent losses before they occur. When it comes to Internet shopping, the internationally recognized security standard 3-D Secure ensures extra protection with an additional password.

Ten tips to improve security

There are things that you too can do to stay safe with your credit card.

  1. Signature. Always sign new credit cards straight away – on the signature strip at the back.
  2. PIN. Do not choose numbers that can be guessed easily, such as birthdays, car registration numbers or telephone numbers. To be extra secure, you can always change your PIN. With UBS prepaid and credit cards, this can be done at every UBS cash machine.
  3. It's all in the head. Learn your PIN by heart. It is imperative that you don't write it on the card or on a piece of paper kept near the card. And don't let anyone watch your fingers when you enter the PIN. 
  4. Open your eyes. Don't allow yourself to be distracted by anyone or anything when paying in a store or using a cash machine. If you notice suspicious objects at a cash machine, report what you have seen to the bank (or if necessary the police) and don't use the machine.
  5. Safe storage. Keep your credit card in a safe place and check that it's still there regularly. When travelling, always carry the card on you and don't leave it in your luggage.
  6. If the worst comes to the worst, don't panic. If you lose your card, stay calm and have it blocked immediately. You can do this via the Mobile Banking app or by calling the UBS Card Center. You will be sent a new card immediately. The best thing to do is to save the number of the UBS Card Center on your smartphone (044 828 31 35).
  7. Beware suspicious e-mails. Don't answer any e-mails or phone calls which ask you to reveal your personal credit card details. Even if the inquiries appear to be serious, neither UBS nor any credit card organizations would ever ask you to reveal confidential personal details in this way.
  8. Be in control. Regularly check your credit card account, your current balance and the transactions you have carried out. The UBS Mobile Banking app and SMS notifications are a particularly convenient way of doing this.
  9. Query transactions in plenty of time. Does your statement include a purchase that you didn't make? If so, be sure to send your queries about your credit card statement in writing to UBS within 30 days.
  10. Destroy old cards. When you are sent a new credit card, you should cut up the old one, including the magnetic strip, chip and hologram.

Cash withdrawals 

Don't use credit cards to withdraw cash. It is much cheaper to do this with debit cards. So what's the difference? The V PAY, Maestro and Post cards are debit cards. If you pay with a debit card, the amount in question is deducted from your account instantaneously. With credit cards such as Visa or Mastercard®, the debit only occurs at the end of the month or can be paid in installments. Credit cards usually include additional services such as discounts for Europcar rentals or insurance cover. What is more, using your UBS credit card means you can collect KeyClub points, which can be used like cash at KeyClub partners.