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Should you sign your credit card?

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    You may have noticed an area on the back of your credit card that’s designated for your signature. But should you sign your credit card? Let’s learn more about why signatures used to be more common, and whether you still need to do it today.

    The history of signing your credit card

    Signing the back of a credit card used to be a way to confirm a cardmember’s identification and increase the security of the card. That’s because once upon a time, credit cards didn’t have chips or even a magnetic strip to authenticate a transaction.

    In those days, you would sign a receipt each time you made a purchase with your card. The cashier would then compare the signature on the back of your card to the one on the receipt to ensure they matched.

    Some people, however, would write “See ID” on the back of their cards instead of a signature. This would prompt the cashier to ask for identification so they could compare the name and signature on a driver’s license with the one on the receipt.

    This system wasn’t perfect, as it relied on cashiers — who are not handwriting experts — to actually check signatures. But now that technology has advanced far beyond comparing signatures, should you sign the back of your credit card?

    Where to sign your card

    While the major credit card payment networks no longer require signatures, your individual credit card issuer may. If this is the case, the back of your card may say something like “not valid unless signed.” In this case, you should sign your card.

    Otherwise, while modern security measures mean you don’t have to sign your card anymore, you certainly can if you’d like. If you do decide to do so, you might be wondering "Where do you sign a credit card?” While it may differ between cards, you’ll likely find a white or light-colored strip on the back of your credit card, which is where you can put your signature.

    If you’re worried about security, you may be tempted to write “See ID” on your card. However, signing credit card receipts for day-to-day purchases is mostly obsolete, and since you can swipe, insert or tap it yourself on the PIN pad, the cashier doesn't typically handle your credit card these days. For those reasons, it may not make sense to write “See ID.”

    Other ways to prevent fraud:

    If fraud is a concern, there are other ways to make sure you’re using your credit card safely. For example:

    • Don’t let others use your card
    • Don’t leave your card sitting around unattended
    • Be vigilant by checking your transactions regularly via online banking or by reviewing your statements
    • Report any unfamiliar transactions as soon as you spot them
    • Call your issuer immediately to deactivate your card if you think it’s lost or stolen

    In summary

    So, should you sign your credit card? Putting your signature on the back certainly won’t hurt. However, the function of signatures on credit cards was primarily to prevent fraud, which is now done through much more advanced technology. It’s possible your issuer requires a signature on your card, so be sure to check before you decide to leave that area blank. But whether you decide to sign your card or not, it helps to practice safe habits when it comes to credit cards to help prevent fraud.

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