Whether you’re paying for groceries or shopping online, using a credit card is an integral part of everyday life for many people.
But it’s important to understand the basic information found on both your credit card account and your card itself in order to protect your information and to communicate effectively when a retailer or a creditor asks for your card details.
Understanding this common information, as well as how to use your credit card, is essential if you want to get the most out of all your card has to offer. Here’s a breakdown of some basic information you should know about your credit cards.
Credit card information
Credit cards are financial tools, and understanding how they work will help you maintain and build upon your experience while using them.
There is important information found on the card itself that you’ll be asked for when making purchases, logging into accounts and adding cards to mobile wallets. Here are some of the key pieces of credit card information you may be asked to provide and where to find each.
Credit card number
Your credit card number is a 13-19 digit number that is usually embossed or printed on the front of your credit card toward the bottom, though some issuers print the card number on the back.
The cardholder name is also embossed or printed on the front of the credit card toward the bottom. The name on the card should match a government-issued ID for the cardholder. Most often it is a complete name but may appear as the first initial and the last name.
The expiration date is generally found on the front of the card between the card number and cardholder name. Expiration dates display the month and year the credit card expires, but the actual expiration date is usually the final day of the month listed.
CVV or security code
This is the three-digit number located on the back of your credit card (near the signature box) under the magnetic strip. If you have an American Express card, the CVV is a four-digit code located on the front of your card.
In addition to the identifying information found on the card itself, you should also be familiar with your card’s account information.
You can find your account information on your paper billing statement or when you log in to your online account. This information can help you know when to make payments, keep you up-to-date with your account balance and credit limit and redeem any rewards you may have earned.
Your account information is reported to credit bureaus as a part of your credit report, which shows your active account history and helps determine your credit score.
Your credit limit is the amount of credit you have been approved for by your card issuer. In order to keep your account in good standing, your balance should remain under your credit limit. It’s best practice to use no more than 30 percent of your credit limit at a time in order to keep a healthy credit score.
Your current balance is the total amount of credit you have used at the time of billing. It will include charges you’ve made, balance transfers, cash advances and convenience checks. Interest is applied to your balance if you don’t pay in full each statement cycle and may be different for different kinds of charges.
Your interest rate is the APR added to your balance at the end of a billing cycle, which compounds daily. Most credit cards have variable interest rates that change with a rate index. Different kinds of charges may also have different interest rates. You can check your billing statement to keep up with your current interest rate.
The minimum payment is the lowest amount that you can pay on a balance to keep your account in good standing. Paying less than the minimum amount will be reported as a missed payment to credit bureaus. Minimum payments are determined based on your current balance and interest rate.
Rewards can come in the form of points, miles or cash back. The amount of rewards you earn will depend on the rewards categories for your card and the points structure. Generally, the rewards you earn will pool together in your account until you choose to redeem them. Your total rewards balance and the amount of rewards available for redemption will appear on your statement.