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The Safest Places to Get a Credit Card

Your Credit Card: Safe and Secure?

This year may go down as the year of the data breach. During the past six months, Epsilon, Sony and most recently Citi have all fallen victim to sizable hacks, and many consumers have had personal information, including credit card numbers, leaked into the wrong hands.

Luckily for consumers, Javelin Strategy and Research just released its annual Card Issuer’s Safety Scorecard, an in-depth study that ranks the 23 most popular credit card issuers based on how well they prevent, detect and resolve their credit card frauds. Read on to find out if your issuer made our list of the 10 safest credit card issuers.

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Javelin’s Methodology

Javelin ranked the 23 issuers by performance in three distinct categories: fraud prevention, fraud detection and resolution. Each category was weighted to emphasize Javelin’s commitment to the importance of these features. This year, fraud prevention was considered the most important criteria, encompassing 45 of the 100 points possible, followed by detection (25 points) and resolution (20 points).

Scores in each category were determined by how well each issuer’s card performed during a series of “mystery shops” conducted by researchers between April 2, 2011, and May 24, 2011. Posing as potential clients, the researchers inquired about issuers’ most popular cards and their security features. Thorough research of the credit card issuers’ websites was also conducted, though Javelin did not evaluate any back-end security practices, as issuers do not make these available to the public.

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The Big Three

While Javelin has conducted a version of this study annually for the past seven years, the criteria changes from year to year to account for advancements made in technology and by fraudsters themselves. To get a better idea of what was accounted for in this year’s criteria, here is a general breakdown:



  • Fraud Prevention. This looks at how issuers authenticated users when they logged in to their credit issuer’s website or over the phone, as well as the security measures taken by an institution to make sure its websites and mobile banking applications were secure. This criteria also examined whether security alerts were provided and whether the software or other tools protected customers’ data.


  • Detection. This examines the scope of issuers’ monitoring systems and how consumers were notified if fraudulent activity was flagged.


  • Resolution. This determines how quickly consumers were provided new cards after fraud was detected, and how liable they were for any funds lost.




The issuers in our list are ranked by their overall score, but we included all three scores to provide a general idea of in which areas each issuer excelled. You can also read more about Javelin’s suggestions for how issuers can improve their security practices in this MainStreet article.

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9th Safest Issuer (tie): Citibank

Card: Citi Platinum Select Card

Total Prevention Score: 22

Total Detection Score: 22

Total Resolution Score: 18

Overall Score:  62

Citi, which recently suffered a significant data breach at the hand of hackers, made the top 10 by virtue of its detection and resolution score, while only getting 22 out of a possible 45 points for fraud prevention.  You can read more about what led to the data breach in this MainStreet article.

Photo Credit:  uris

9th Safest Issuer (tie): Wells Fargo

Card: Wells Fargo Visa Platinum

Total Prevention Score: 21

Total Detection Score: 26

Total Resolution Score: 15

Overall Score: 62

Photo Credit: The Truth About

8th Safest Issuer: HSBC

Card: Platinum MasterCard

Total Prevention Score: 25

Total Detection Score: 22

Total Resolution Score: 18

Overall Score: 65

Photo Credit:  HSBC

7th Safest Issuer: American Express

Card: American Express Blue

Total Prevention Score: 26

Total Detection Score: 22

Total Resolution Score: 18

Overall Score:  66

Photo Credit: Credit.com

6th Safest Issuer: JPMorgan Chase

Card: Chase Freedom Visa

Total Prevention Score: 23

Total Detection Score: 26

Total Resolution Score: 18

Overall Score: 67

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5th Safest Issuer: Capital One

Card: Capital One Platinum MasterCard

Total Prevention Score: 27

Total Detection Score: 23

Total Resolution Score: 18

Overall Score: 68

Photo Credit: Credit.com

4th Safest Issuer: USAA (United Services Automobile Association)

Card: World MasterCard

Total Prevention Score: 28

Total Detection Score: 23

Total Resolution Score: 18

Overall Score: 69

Consumers should note that USAA credit cards are available only to active military personnel veterans and their families.

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3rd Safest Issuer: U.S. Bank

Card:  Visa Platinum

Total Prevention Score: 30

Total Detection Score: 28

Total Resolution Score: 15

Overall Score: 73

Photo Credit: TheTruthAbout

2nd Safest Issuer: Discover

Card: Discover More Card

Total Prevention Score: 29

Total Detection Score: 25

Total Resolution Score: 20

Overall Score: 74

Photo Credit:  Credit.com

Safest Issuer: Bank of America

Card: Visa Platinum

Total Prevention Score: 33

Total Detection Score: 34

Total Resolution Score: 20

Overall Score: 87

Bank of America finished “Best in Class” for the fifth year in a row, taking the top spot in all three of Javelin’s categories. The bank was able to improve its performance over last year by besting U.S. Bank’s prevention score (the one category that Bank of America placed second in last year.)

Photo Credit:  The Truth About

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