Ever wondered what the numbers on your cards indicate? Well you might have written them down at several points, either as reference or as a security measure in case of theft, but did you ever sit down to think what they might mean? Heres the answer.
The first number on your credit card denotes the system of the card. Is it a visa, master, or entertainment card? If the number is 3, it means it could be an American Express or Diners Club card or any other entertainment or travel card. Whereas a card with 4 as the first digit denotes that the card is a Visa card and a 5 means it is a MasterCard. A card that starts with the number 6 means it is a Discover card.
The number on the card also denotes the system of the card. For instance, a Diners Club card starts with 38 while, an American Express card number starts with 37. The third and fourth numbers denote the currency used on the card while the rest of the numbers till the 11th give you the information on account number. The digits from 12 to 14 is the credit card number and the last digit, the 15th is a check digit. This is the configuration in an American Express card.
A Visa and a MasterCard are similar in concept with some variations. They basically provide the same details, though the numbers and rules vary slightly. These numbers offer complete information on the users account and one must keep a photocopy of the card with the number or write the number down safely in case of card theft at any point in time. This reference number needs to be quoted to block your cards from being misused.
If you think this is all there is to a card, you are mistaken. The back of a card is even more configured with information and codes. The magnetic strip you see on the back of your cards (also called the magstripe) is made of iron-based magnetic particles. It is however plastic like in appearance. The card is often swiped at a business center or a store when you make a purchase and it is the magstripe that needs to be read by the magstripe reader.
Sometimes you may encounter problems with your card at stores or even at the ATMs where the reader fails to accept your card. This could in all likelihood be due to a dirty or damaged magstripe. In fact, even if your card has been exposed to magnets, it can damage the magnetized strip. So do take good care of your credit card and keep it protected from damages.