Parts of a credit card

Although credit card design trends are constantly changing, there are features and data that are always present, including the issuer name, network, cardholder name and card number. Let’s see below the anatomy and parts of credit cards.

Anatomy and parts of credit cards: the front

1) Credit card issuer

It refers to bank that issued the credit card. That is, the one in charge of defining the details of the card, the reward points and benefits. In the case of Bank of America, only the name of the card is used to indicate the issuing bank.

2) Credit card name

It is the specific name of the credit card. It usually begins with the name of the issuing bank followed by the name of the particular card. In the case of “Bank of America” ​​and “Credit Card” they are stylized in “BankAmericard”, a word used to begin most card names, followed by the name of a particular card: “Cash Rewards”, for example .

3) Credit card network

This is the credit card network and the level of service associated with the card. If the card had Visa Signature status, it would say so here. The credit card network is responsible for processing payments made with the card. There are 4:

Note: Visa and Mastercard are the largest credit card networks in the world and although both are accepted everywhere, they do have some differences. Fortunately, those differences are so slight that you rarely have to worry about choosing one over the other.

4) Name of the cardholder

The name of the person responsible for the card and the only one with power to use it.

5) Credit card number

Is he identification number associated with a particular card and is stored on the magnetic stripe. When you swipe your card through a terminal or reader, your number provides information about the credit card network and issuer.

Credit card numbers are assigned by the American National Standards Institute and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

The account number consists of up to sixteen digits and is assigned by the card issuer. Some cards only have seven digits.

TMI on credit card numbers

There is actually an enormous amount of information contained in a credit card number. This information is not really necessary to understand how to use a credit card, we only include it as additional information. The ISO or the International Organization for Standardization categorizes the numbers as follows:

Digits 1 – 6: Issuer identification numbers

First digit: Represents the network that produced the credit card. It is called the Major Industry Identifier (MII). Each digit represents a different industry.

  • 0 – ISO/TC 68 and other industry assignments
  • 1 – Airlines
  • 2 – Airlines, finance and other future allocations to industry
  • 3 – Travel and entertainment
  • 4 – Banking and finance
  • 5 – Banking and finance
  • 6 – Marketing and banking/finance
  • 7 – Oil and other future allocations to industry
  • 8 – Health care, telecommunications and other future industrial activities
  • 9 – For assignment by national quality agencies

The first digit is different for each card network:

  • Visa – Start with a 4 and have 13 or 16 digits
  • Mastercard – Starts with a 5 and is 16 digits
  • American Express – Starts with a 3, followed by a 4 or a 7 has 15 digits
  • Discover Cards – Starts with a 6 and is 16 digits
  • Diners Club and Carte Blanche cards – Start with a 3, followed by a 0, 6, or 8 and have 14 digits

Digits 2 to 6: Provide an identifier for a particular institution

Digits 7 to 15: Unique personal identifiers. Identifies the name of the cardholder and is unique to the issuer.

Digit 16: Check Digit

This last digit checks the accuracy of the card numbers to make sure they were not entered incorrectly.

The rest of the digits are also different for each card network:

For Visa cards:

  • Digits 2 to 6: Used by the bank according to their needs.
  • Digits 7 to 12 or 7 to 15: Represent the account number
  • Numbers 13 or 16: It is a check digit

For Mastercard cards:

  • Digits 2 and 3, 2 to 4, 2 to 5, or 2 to 6: Used by the bank at its discretion according to the numbering of each digit.
  • The digits after the bank number, up to digit 15: represent the account number
  • Digit 16: It is a check digit

For American Express cards:

  • Digits 3 and 4: are the type and currency
  • Digits 5 to 11: represent the account number
  • Digits 12 to 14: Represent the card number within the account
  • Digit 15: It is a check digit

6) EMV chip technology

this chip is an alternative method of saving cardholder information, in addition to the magnetic stripe (which is on the back of the card). It is a more secure and modern way of storing information, which provides better protection against fraud.

This is known as EMV technology, which means “Europay, Mastercard, Visa”. This is the global standard for this chip technology, which comes in two forms:

Chip and signature cards require your signature to complete a transaction, while chip and PIN cards use a PIN created by you, much like a debit card. Credit cards can be one of these types or even both. Nowadays, the most common is to find only chip and signature cards in the United States.

Instead of swiping the credit card through a slot, a chip-enabled card is inserted into the reader’s slot, usually at the bottom, and must remain there until prompted to remove it. This is known as “card dipping.”

Credit cards issued in the United States are required by law to be chip-enabled as of early October 2015, and from that date merchants who fail to comply with the new rules by providing the correct chip card technology will be held liable for fraudulent credit card activity.

7) Account opening date

The year the credit card account was opened. Not all cards will display this information.

8) Expiration date

The date on which a particular card will expire. This does not mean that the credit account is closed, but rather that a new card must be issued. The new card will be sent automatically by the issuer and will have a new expiration date and a new CVV code, sometimes also a new account number.

However, in some cases, credit card issuers also use this time to analyze a cardholder’s credit and make decisions about card terms, such as credit limit reduction, interest rate increase, account suspension, or even account closure.

However, keep in mind that issuers can take any of these actions at any time and do not need to wait until the expiration date. The date only gives the issuer a predefined end to the relationship if he decides to end it.

If your credit reports show responsible financial behavior, you don’t have to worry about any of these negative or adverse actions.. Instead, they’ll probably mail you a new card before the expiration date, because the card issuer recognizes you as a good customer and wants to keep you around.

The cards have an expiration date:

  • To give the senders a predetermined end to the relationship, so they can end it more easily if they wish.
  • Because wear and tear will slowly damage the card and magnetic stripe, eventually making it unreadable.
  • As a protection measure against fraud. It acts as an additional form of card verification.
  • For credit card issuers to replace old cards with new cards with better security features or fresh designs.
  • As a way of reminding cardholders that the issuer is the owner of the card and is the one who coordinates its issuance and delivery.

Anatomy and parts of credit cards: the back

1) Magnetic stripe

This black bar known as the magnetic stripe contains all of your account information. It is made of millions of tiny magnetic particles. When you swipe your card through a card terminal, the reader gets your account information across the strip and uses it to process the transaction.

If an ATM or card reader won’t accept your card, it’s probably:

  • the magnetic stripe is too dirty or scratched to be read
  • a magnet has erased the information on the magnetic stripe

If the magnetic stripe on your card doesn’t work, you can call the issuer to request a new one. Generally, there will be no charge to obtain a replacement card for this reason.

2) CVV security code

This code is a fraud prevention tool, which is used for cardless transactions, such as online purchases that do not require the physical credit card. They only need the information printed on it.

These are the opposite transactions to those where the plastic card is actually used, such as when shopping at a grocery store, where the magnetic stripe or chip would be used.

CVV codes are a 3-digit number for Visa, Mastercard, and Discover cards, and a 4-digit number for Amex.

3) Customer service telephone line

The phone number on the back of your card is for general customer service. If you have other services associated with your card that have their own direct phone numbers, like a personal concierge service, consider getting them all and writing them down or saving them to your phone. You can get help finding these numbers by calling the card’s customer service line.

4) Signature Box

This is another fraud prevention tool, but it rarely serves its purpose. The cardholder must sign their card there for it to be legally valid, with the intention that this signature can be checked against a driver’s license or a signature given at the register when a purchase is made.

By checking the signatures or the name on the license, it can be seen that the person using the card is actually the owner. However, merchants will rarely check for a signature there, and it is even less common for them to check the name on a license or other document. In many cases the merchant doesn’t even touch the credit card.

5) Hologram security measure

This hologram is a security element to prevent the card from being physically copied. It contains several layers of images at different angles, creating the illusion of some movement. There may also be other images hidden within these layers. The multiple layers and images make the hologram difficult or impossible to copy with a scanner, so an actual image cannot be created with which to print copies of the card.

Anatomy and parts of credit cards: alternative designs

Some credit card issuers have changed the traditional design and put some or all of the information on the back of the card only.

For example, the Citi® Double Cash card only has the cardholder’s name on the front.

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