It is safe to apply for a credit card online as long as you do it through a reputable issuer’s secure website. Banks and credit unions use encryption to protect the personal information transmitted on online applications. And for added security, most will automatically log you out of the application browser if you’re inactive for a certain period of time.
Given the threat of identity theft, online security is an understandable concern. It’s always smart to be careful with your data. But you shouldn’t let an excess of caution stop you from filling out an online application, as there’s very little risk involved.
Here’s why it’s safe to apply for a credit card online:
- Applications go through the issuer’s secure site. You can find information about different credit cards on WalletHub, and when it’s time to apply, we’ll redirect you to the bank’s or credit union’s secure application page.
- Banks use SSL encryption technology. A small padlock in the address bar and an address beginning with “https” both indicate that the site is encrypted. Encryption means that all the information you send is in code. SSL encryption technology generates a random decoding key that a credit card company’s computers use to decipher your application. Without the key, it’s extremely difficult to unscramble the information. WalletHub uses this same technology.
- You know you’re making the right choice. Comparing credit card offers online is the easiest way to find the best card for your particular needs. You might miss out on a great deal if you simply respond to a mail offer or get whatever credit card your bank happens to offer. Plus, if you want to make sure a smaller issuer is legitimate, you can always search reviews on WalletHub or submit a question.
- You can secure your own connection: For an extra layer of protection, you can set a router password, enable WAP2 encryption, and specify which devices are allowed to connect with your wireless network. Just open up your router settings by typing your IP address into a browser window and entering your username and password. You can find all that information in your router manual, or by calling your internet provider.
- Your private info is probably out there anyway: There have been several major data breaches in recent years, including one involving Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus. And while it might be unsettling to realize that most people’s personal information is already exposed, it does mean that any would-be risk posed by applying online should not be a concern.
So it is safe to apply for a credit card online as long as you’re doing it on the issuer’s site. But you can also apply by calling the issuer’s customer service number, going to a branch, or returning a physical mail offer.
If you gave sensitive information to the wrong parties, make sure to change your email and online banking passwords right away. Contacting your credit card issuers and the three major credit bureaus is a wise idea as well. You can request replacement cards and even put a freeze on your credit reports to prevent new applications for credit under your name.
You should also file a report with the FTC about the incident. The sooner you alert the proper authorities about fraud, the easier it will be to contain the damage.