credit cards

What makes up your credit card?

Credit Cards » What Makes Up Your Credit Card?

    • Issuer logo: This is the issuing bank's logo. The bank extends the credit on the card, while the payment network -- such as Visa or MasterCard -- processes the transactions. American Express and Discover are issuers and payment networks.
    • EMV chip: EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa. Account details are stored on this microchip and communicated to the checkout computer at purchase. The chip encrypts transaction data uniquely each time it's used to make counterfeiting cards harder. This is not on all credit cards.
    • Issuer identification number: The first six numbers identify the credit card issuer. For example, MasterCard credit card numbers always start with a 5. Visa cards start with a 4.
    • Account number: This randomly generated number can contain up to 12 numbers. Each issuer can create a trillion possible account numbers.
    • Check digit: The last digit on the card number verifies the initial numbers. Based on a mathematical algorithm, this check digit makes it more difficult for criminals to make up card numbers. It also helps prevent errors when the number is recorded manually.
    • Expiration date: The date, typically the month and year, shows how long a card is valid. The expiration date also helps prevent fraud at checkout and is required by payment network rules. For cards with just month and year, the card is valid until the last day of that month.
    • Name: The first and last name of the cardholder will appear on a personal credit card. Authorized users often get cards with their own names.
    • Payment network logo: This logo identifies which payment network is processing the transactions -- Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover.
    • Customer service number: If your card is missing or stolen or you have questions about your account, this is the number to call.
    • Magnetic stripe: The magnetic stripe consists of up to three tracks and contains all the information that is physically found on the card. The first and second tracks contain the basic account information to complete a purchase. The third track is a read/write track where information can be stored or added, but it is rarely used. It can include an encrypted personal identification number, country code, currency units and authorized amount.
    • Hologram: The 3-dimensional hologram helps differentiate real cards from fake ones.
    • Signature: Payment network rules require a signature. The signature on the card allows merchants to claim the transaction was verified and potentially shifts fraud liability to the bank.
    • CSV: This number typically helps reduce fraud when the credit card is not present, such as with online purchases. Most CSV numbers contain three digits and are found on the back, next to the signature. American Express uses a four-digit number, which is placed on the front of the card above the account number.
    • Service disclaimer: This disclaimer means that by using the card, you agree to its terms and conditions.

Ever wonder what goes into creating a new credit card? All those numbers, logos and holograms aren't random. In fact, the bulk of a credit card's features are designed to combat fraudulent use and counterfeit cards. Bankrate identifies every feature and what each one does.

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Have you ever wondered what all those numbers and images on your credit card are for?

Your credit card contains anti-fraud features designed to protect your account.

On the front of your card, you will find your name, the expiration date and the credit card number. The name helps a retailer identify you as the rightful cardholder. The expiration date helps verify the authenticity of the card. And the credit card number includes three parts: the issuer's identification number, the randomly generated account number, and the check digit that verifies the initial numbers.

On the back of the card, there are four anti-fraud features: the magnetic stripe, the hologram, the signature and the CSV number. The magnetic stripe stores information, including personal identification numbers, country codes or card limits. The hologram helps differentiate real cards from fake ones, while the signature is another way retailers can verify your identity. The CSV number helps reduce fraud for online purchases.



Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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