Home / Credit News / Putting Your Photo on Your Credit Card - Totally Narcissistic or Borderline Brilliant?

Throughout my high school and college career, I worked part-time (and occasionally full-time) at a locally-owned Italian restaurant. I started out as a dishwasher, but eventually worked my way up to a busser, a cook and eventually a manager. I can't tell you how many business and life lessons I learned along the way, not to mention I became a pretty good cook out of the deal.

One small lesson I learned that stuck with me is something I rarely (if ever) see by cashiers, merchants and the like: ID'ing a customer who is paying with a credit card.

I remember the first time I saw a co-worker do this. I was baffled, and after the transaction went through I asked him what the deal was. "Had my identity stolen once," the co-worked told me matter-of-factly. "$300 bucks on clothes online."

Well, then.

As it turned out, my co-worker didn't have his physical credit card stolen from him - just his credit card number. But that didn't deter him from doing his part to stop identity theft from the frontline by checking that the name on the card matched the name on the ID. I took up his cause with semi-regular ID-checking, but I was honestly never as diligent. 

Then one day, a customer who I hadn't seen before came in to pick up a take out order. When she handed me her card to pay, I was totally put off; there on her credit card was a blown up picture of...her face. I had to ask what that was all about, hardly hiding my sarcastic enthusiasm for such a customized credit card.

"I had my identity stolen a while back," she told me. "The picture is so nobody else can use my card."

Once again I was made to look clueless by a victim of identity theft.

"That's...brilliant," was my only response. And it was true.

Generally the first thing we're taught to do when we lose our wallet or purse is to cancel our credit and debit cards, and that logic holds true. But what about those instances when you're completely unaware that your credit card is missing? You know, the moments before you realize that your purse is missing or your wallet gone. Those moments can take hours or even days to register, and by then an identity thief could have wreaked havoc on your bank or checking accounts.

Sure, it doesn't protect from online purchases. But what if your credit card's new "owner" attempts to pay for a shopping spree in person, then hands over a card that has a completely random face on it to a cashier? That cashier might instinctively know that's something's up, and is likely to check for ID. Since many stores have a policy maintaining that the owner of the card must be present upon purchasing, there's a good chance your ID thief isn't getting out of the store with the goods.

Look, identity theft is hard to prevent on any level. And while ID guard products like Identity Guard do a great job of alerting for suspicious activity, sometimes the best defense takes place right there on your credit card. Sure, it may seem odd to the average cashier that your face is on your credit card, but maybe you can customize your card with a picture of you and your family to make the conversation less ... awkward.

Then again, maybe you're really good looking and deserve to have your mug on the front of a credit card, anyway. (But let's face it, probably not.) Either way, you might be thankful you went with a customized picture on your card the next time you misplace your purse or wallet. If nothing else, it sets up at least one line of defense before making the call to your credit card company.