A Comparison Of Credit Card Sites

Recently, I got a call from Capital One’s Fraud Department, which I always take immediately.  They told me my card was compromised and they would be sending me a new one right away.  Then they asked a bunch of questions, and that was that.

First off, I stayed on guard the entire call.  You need to always be aware that someone could be spoofing your bank to get information from you.  However, the call was legit and the operator asked me for nothing suspicious and only asked me to confirm recent purchases.  So, I had to start using other credit cards while my primary card was being replaced.  Right now, I don’t think it was a fraud issue on my card.  I think it was an excuse for them to issue me a new card with the new embedded chip.

But anyway, the point of this post is that after using Capital One exclusively for so long, I had a chance to see how my other cards compared.  There’s nothing to the actual use of the card – they’re all the same.  The difference I was interested in was the web sites.  And there was a big difference.

I used three other cards in this time period.  The branding of the card is probably as significant as who it was issued by, since the web site contains that branding and could be completely different code bases.  So the cards I used were: Bank of America’s Elite Rewards VISA, Barclays’ Choice Privileges VISA, and Citibank’s Sears MasterCard.

The Sears MasterCard is my oldest card (from 2001) and actually was converted from my former Sears store card, which was actually my very first credit card.  It doesn’t get a whole lot of use, and they know it.  My credit line on that card has been chopped down to a pretty low limit. 

The site itself is managed by AccountOnline.com, and I have no idea how it is operated.  The transactions must be processed in batches because I checked yesterday and there was nothing.  I checked today and I have activity between 7/31/15 and 8/3/15.  There doesn’t appear to be a way to see pending transactions, which would make sense if the transactions were refreshed on a schedule.  They do provide a way to download transactions to common financial applications, but you can only download a full statement or the current activity – no date ranges.

The Sears card is a rewards card, and the site does allow you to view your rewards balance and provides a link to searschoicerewards.com where you can spend your points.  I had all of 150 points and the cheapest gift card I could get was $20 for 2,500 points.  I guess I won’t.

A good sign of a website’s age is their minimum system requirements.  In this case, you need at least IE 4.0, Firefox 1.0, Safari, the IE browser in AOL, and Chrome must fall under “Other”.  They use security questions and the password complexity is 6 chars min, including 2 numbers and 1 letter.  You can use spaces, but only one consecutively.  You can set alerts on balances and payments, but not on transactions.

The Elite Rewards VISA (since 2009) is a newer card, so it would make sense that it has a newer website.  It also has the same style of transaction downloading as Sears, where you can download current activity or a past statement’s worth.  BoA doesn’t support downloading in Money OFX format, so you have to use Quicken.  I don’t see any obvious display of pending transactions, but I think they do display them.  BoA has a nice clear link to notify them if you will be travelling with the card, to prevent declined transactions from suspected fraud.  Capital One has that as well, but it is tucked away off the main screen.

The site uses SiteKey, an image that supposedly ensures you are on the correct website.  They’re getting rid of that feature soon, they say.  I was never a believer in whatever security it provided; pretty sure it was just a cookie.  BoA has a two-factor authorization called SafePass for transfer transactions.  They also use security questions.  The site’s password (which they term “passcode”) has a complexity of 8-20 characters, 1 letter and 1 number, and allows some special characters.  You can set alerts on balances, payments, and transactions.  I set mine up to email me on any charges over $1.  That’s something I have set up on Capital One and one of the reasons I doubt there was fraud on my card, because I got no unexpected notifications.

Choice Privileges VISA (from 2013) is my newest card, so you’d expect it to have the newest website.  Well, as these cards get newer, the websites have more flashy features, and the Choice VISA is right there with them.  They allow downloads for Quicken and CSV only and download by date range.  Pending transactions are easily accessible on another tab in the list.

The site uses a SiteImage and security phrase like BoA.  Password complexity is 8-30 characters, must have 3 of: uppercase, lowercase, numbers, or special characters.  The last 5 passwords can’t be reused.  Security questions are also used.  BoA and Choice won’t show you what the current security questions are, which I guess is a good thing.  You can set alerts on balances, payments, and transactions.  Again, I set my transaction notifications here as well.

So in summary, my newer cards are just as good as my Capital One services.  But to Capital One’s credit, their card is my second-oldest card (2003) and yet they have continued updating their website to be just as secure and functional as my newest card, unlike my Sears Citibank card.  After the big meltdown in 2008 where card companies were closing accounts left and right, I lost a few accounts.  One was another Citi card and I seem to remember the website was more fully featured than my Sears card is.

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