How to Hack Credit Cards: 3 Top Methods & How to Protect Yourself

How to hack credit cards? Learn what hackers do and how to protect with this article

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How to hack credit cards? Both aspiring hackers and normal people often ask this question, mostly out of curiosity. If you have a credit card, are you safe? Or will you find a mysterious transaction draining your balance next months? As with all complex questions, the right answer is “it depends”. In this brief article we will explain how to hack credit cards in plain English, and how to protect yourself.

Big disclaimer time. No matter where you are in the world, hacking credit cards is illegal. We do not endorse nor sponsor any illegal activity, in fact just the opposite. The purpose of this explanation on how to hack credit cards is to show you what hackers may do to attempt to hack your credit card, so that you can protect yourself. We believe that a world with more awareness results in better safety for everyone.

How to Hack Credit Cards

Understanding Credit Cards

Before we dive into how to hack credit cards, it is important we understand how credit cards work. You may know the main players in the credit card industry: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB and Diners. If you think about it closely, those are not banks, they are just providers of credit card networks.

A credit card network is a special type of financial institution that acts as intermediary between banks and individuals. Credit card networks offers credit to individual, that is they advance the money needed for a payment to a merchant, and then cash everything in directly from your bank at the end of the month. Since you often obtain a credit card from your bank it may seem they are the one issuing it, but in reality it is the credit card network.

How to hack credit cards? Hackers start by understanding credit cards first
Hackers start by understanding how credit cards work.

This means we have basically two surfaces of attack, the credit card network itself and the individual. A surface of attack is just a place or an area of a system that is exposed to potential cyberattacks.

If someone hacks the entire credit card network, he might be able to direct the expenditure of multiple cards, see all transactions and potentially create new transactions and even hide his trails. The second and simpler surface of attack is the individual. In this case, if someone hacks the individual, he will be able to access his credit card and potentially use it for transactions.

How to use a Credit Card

Of course, you use credit cards to pay, but how this affect our guide on how to hack credit  cards? How can we protect from hackers? We need to understand that there are two ways of using a credit card: POS and Online.

In a POS (Point of Sale) transaction, the card is inserted into a machine (the “POS”) that reads the chip and processes the transaction. It is the way of payment you use in any store. Instead, in an on-line transaction the card is not physically inserted anywhere: you just need to provide credit card number, card holder, and security code. The payment system, with that information only, will process the payment.

With this in mind, we can see the different ways hackers may use to hack credit cards.

Method #1: How to Hack Credit Cards with POS

If you have a POS device, you can get payments from a credit card. Considering the contactless technology that replaces the normal chip, you can potentially get payment from a card that is close enough without even touching it.

How to hack credit cards with a POS
A POS, hackers may use that to hack your card.

There are several demo of hackers going with a POS in a densely packed underground train and hovering with the POS near the wallet of unaware individuals. This method works, and you should be aware of it.

It is worth noting that this only works for small transactions, as with bigger ones the PIN code will be required. Furthermore, you cannot craft a “do it yourself POS”, because in order for the POS to work it must contains certificate keys from the credit card network. All in all, when you have a POS you receive a digital certificate from the credit card network that identifies you, and you only. You cannot create this certificate by yourself, so the credit card networks is 100% sure who is making the charge.

Thus, as a hacker, you may get by a few days with this method. Since you are fully identified and tracked, eventually police will come knocking. Because of this, this is not actually a significant method that may jeopardize your finances, you are relatively safe. Furthermore, banks are now implementing SMS whenever a transaction is made to warn you, and you can also have a shielded wallet that blocks contactless signal. If you activate the SMS and get the wallet, you are pretty safe.

Method #2: How to Hack Credit Cards Online

Online, things are different. Here the hacker doesn’t need to have access to the credit card physically. He just need to know the numbers. However, since a credit card is not a connected device it cannot be hacked. Instead, it is the individual to be hacked. This comes with no surprise: as technology systems become better and better it is easier to hack a person than a computer.

Here, the technique hackers use is phishing. They disguise as someone else, most often a respected company, to try to let you give them the credit card numbers. For example, they may send you an email that looks like an order confirmation from stating that there was a problem, and if you click on it you will be redirected to a website that looks perfectly like, except it is not. Instead, it is a fake website controlled by the hacker.

In this phishing website, they ask you to input the credit card numbers in a way that seems totally legit, except that it is not. Instead of processing a payment for Amazon, the hacker now knows your credit card number, security code and holder. With this information, he can then issue payments on your behalf.

So, it is not really about how to hack credit cards, but more about how to hack individuals. Phishing is still the most popular way, but there are various level of it. Some, such as the Nigerian Prince scam, can be easily identified as SPAM and not-so-legit operations. They leverage the fact that if you are gullible enough to believe them, you will be gullible enough to submit payment. Other hackers group prepare finely crafted websites that may scam even the most precautious person.

Even as the hacker obtains the credit card numbers, most credit cards are now implementing two-factor authentication, so that whenever a payment is made the legitimate credit card owner receives via SMS a code he needs to use to confirm the payment. Examples of this are the MasterCard Security ID and the Verified by VISA code. With these methods, even a hacker knowing your credit card details cannot do anything. Without those, or if the hacker has access to your phone, he can potentially wipe out your entire bank account and even more.

All in all, chances to be hacked this way are relatively small, but if it does happen it can be potentially devastating. The best precaution is to be very attentive when you enter your credit card numbers online, and never do as a consequence of an email.

Method #2 BONUS: Hacking past 2-Factor Authentication

The big caveat of hacking credit cards online is the 2-factor authentication. It is thanks to this technology that even the most gullible users are safe. But not so fast, if you want to understand how to hack credit cards you need to know there are ways to circumvent even this.

The first and easier approach for the hacker is to ask for payment on the spot. Imagine you receive your phishing email and you end up with a page to re-input your credit card numbers. Then, instead of concluding here, the hacker may immediately bill your card so that the credit card network sends you an SMS, and you have to put the code in the hacker’s website. This works like a charm, and if a hacker is able to pull it off it can bill your card with no problems. However, there are significant caveats for the hackers that still keep you safe.

  1. You will have to be redirected to a page from the credit card network, the hacker cannot replicate this easily. For this redirection, just like with POS, the hacker must be a valid merchant recognized by the credit card network, and because of it he is easily identifiable.
  2. Even if he is able to pull it off, you will receive an SMS detailing toward who you are making the payment and what is the amount. This is yet another additional safeguard

Because of this, 2-factor authentication is a strong protection against credit card hackers, and you are pretty much safe as long as hackers do not have access to your phone. The problem happens when they do.

If a hacker has access to your phone, most likely with a rootkit virus, he can read your SMS and grab the code, and delete the SMS without you even receiving a notification. If he has this level of access, you are never safe. Your account can be wiped out in seconds to a bank account in an offshore opaque country.

Of course, hacking a phone is not an easy step. Hacking a credit card, plus hacking a phone of the same person is even harder. To do that, it must be a targeted hack: the hacker must want to hack specifically you. Always with phishing, he might let you download an app one day and input your credit card numbers another day.

Another good option for the hacker looking how to hack credit cards is to just hack the phone instead. The hacker would hack as many phones as possible, and then just wait that someone enters credit card details on the phone. Since the hacker has already access to the phone, he can spy on it and check when this happens. When it does, boom, the hacker just hit the jackpot.

So, in short, to protect yourself be careful and never install an app as a consequence of an email. This is the most dangerous attack you can receive from a hacker on your credit card.

Method #3: Hacking Credit Card Networks

Some hackers just want to go big, and hacking the individual is not enough. They want the whole pay, and try to go after credit card companies and networks. Instead of trying to get your credit card details, they try to get all credit card details directly from VISA, MasterCard, AMEX and so on. How do they do that?

How to hack credit cards and their network? Some hackers go against big datancers of the biggest companies
Some hackers may try to hack large credit card organizations.

This is complex hacking, and if you were looking for “hot to hack credit cards” on Google it probably means the technicalities are still out of reach for you. In fact, most of them are even out of reach for me as I am writing this article.

The only thing that is sure is that those are targeted attacks, because they need to penetrate multiple layers of security. They will need to sneak past firewalls, IPSs, deep packet inspection, antiviruses, DMZs and all other cool technologies. Plus, credit card networks are among the best protected types of companies, precisely because they deal with money a lot. This is not an attack for script kiddies.

Yet, hackers occasionally accomplish this, and they are able to dump credit card data, also including transaction history. One of the way they did this in the past is through BGP Hijacking, a complex hacking attack you should be aware of.

What do Hackers do with Hacked Credit Cards?

Someone looking for how to hack credit cards may think hackers just use them to pay for stuff. Most of the times however, that is not the case. Hackers typically aim to have information of as many credit cards as possible, but to not use them. Instead, they sell them on the dark web.

This means, on the dark web it is possible to buy credit card data, including the 16 digits on the front, the security code and the holder name. Often, they are sold in bulks and for a relatively low price, about a few dollars per card. And you can also find credentials to hacked PayPal accounts or bank accounts. Why is that? Why would an hacker sell the access to a credit card potentially having thousands of dollars worth of spending in it?

Because spending is dangerous. In fact, that is where the fraud actually makes itself evident, and where there is some trail. Think of it like that: if you saw the details of your friend’s credit card there is nothing wrong until you use them. Well, stealing credit card information is illegal even if you don’t use it, but the act of stealing is very hard to track. A bitcoin transaction on the dark web is also harder to track, way harder than a credit card spend.

So, hackers prefer a sure gain with lower risk of getting caught that a potentially high risk reward. Furthermore, they do not tend to target individuals. They end to target by vulnerability. For example, they may target all devices with a known vulnerability and from those gets hundreds of credit card details. Nothing personal. A few dollars each means a few hundred dollars with no risk.

If you are interested in learning more about this approach, you must check our article on CVE vulnerabilities explained and where to find them.

How to Hack Credit Cards in Summary

All in all, nowadays you are pretty safe from credit card hackers. However, they still might be able to get your credit card information if you don’t pay attention and are not a responsible internet users.

Most likely, it is a hacker not targeting you personally that will try to steal your credit card, but a more targeted account is still possible if you have some enemies or if you are a public figure. Instead, regarding attacks made to the credit card network itself there is nothing you can do, it is up to the network to protect itself, and also to make up or pay its customers for any loss that results from their lack of security, unless specified otherwise in the contract.

Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.
Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.

Alessandro Maggio


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