Posts tagged ‘credit card’

How to Generate Credit Card Numbers

By Chad Upton | Editor

First of all, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea; although the credit card numbers you generate are valid, they’re not active and aren’t for making (fraudulent) purchases.

So, what’s the point?

red amex

Just like you may use a junk email address to sign up for special offers, you may want a junk credit card number too. That’s because free things are rarely ever free and that’s especially true of free trials.

Companies frequently offer “free” trials in exchange for your billing info. They’re betting against you — hoping you’ll forget to cancel your subscription so they can get some money out of you for at least one month, maybe a couple months if it’s only a few bucks and you’re too busy to cancel at the moment you notice the charge. Then you’ll probably forget about it until you see it again next month. (more…)

February 5, 2013 at 1:00 am 16 comments

How to Fix a Stubborn Credit Card

By Chad Upton | Editor

Have you ever worn out a magnetic card? You can ask your bank for a new one but it usually takes a few days. In the meantime, you can put a piece of clear tape or use some receipt paper from the cashier to cover the magnetic stripe while the card is swiped.

Usually, the cashier will do this for you, but if not then you can ask them to try it. Some may even use a plastic bag, but any thin barrier may work. Be sure it’s very thin so it doesn’t get jammed in the card reader.

Many people know about this little trick; the real secret is why it works… (more…)

April 13, 2012 at 2:00 am 5 comments

Credit Cards Reveal Hidden Symbols Under Black Lights

By Chad Upton | Editor

Many people know that paper money has markings that illuminate under a black light. These markings make it more difficult to counterfeit and thus easier to spot counterfeit money. Also, regular paper glows wildly under a black light, while currency paper does not, another dead giveaway. The same also applies to credit cards.

For this demonstration, I rounded up one card from each of the major issuers and tore my basement apart looking for my standard issue college black light. I eventually found it, but only after creating a small pile of retro items for this year’s halloween costume.

The black light’s strong purple glow catalyzed the American Express card to reveal “AMEX” spelled across the card, with a picture of a globe between “AM” and “EX.”

MasterCard was hiding “MC” on theirs:

The Visa card revealed the V logo.

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August 12, 2011 at 2:00 am 4 comments

The Meaning of the Digits on Your Credit Card

By Chad Upton | Editor

There are thousands of different credit cards from the major issuers, but all of them have one thing in common: the meaning of the numbers on the card.

Most major cards have 16 digits on them and each number has a specific meaning.

Digit 1 (Industry ID)

  • 1 and 2 are Airline cards
  • 3 – Travel and Entertainment
    • ex. Amex
  • 4, 5 – Banking and Financial
    • ex. Visa, Mastercard
  • 6 – Merchandising and Banking
    • ex. Discover, Diners Club
  • 7 – Petroleum
  • 8 – Telecom
  • 9 – Misc.

Digits 2-6 (Issuer ID)

Although all Visa cards start with the number 4, the following 5 digits indicate which bank that issued the Visa card. Mastercards start with 5, Discover starts with 6. You’ll notice that some websites don’t ask you what type of card you have — they obviously know what the digits on the card mean.

Digits 7-15 (Account ID)

The unique number that identifies your account.

Digit 16 (Checksum)

This single digit is one of the most important ones on the card. Much like the last digit of a barcode, the sole purpose of this digit is to allow validation of the rest of the number. In other words, there is a mathematical relationship between the numbers on the card, so if the number is entered incorrectly, the card validator system can indicate the card number was entered incorrectly.

You can validate a card number on your own too. Double every other number, starting with the first number. Add the result of those multiplications to all of the other digits on the card, treating all numbers as individual digits, including double digit results from the doubling operation. If the sum of all these numbers is divisible by ten, the number is valid according to the ISO standard. However, a valid card number doesn’t necessarily mean the number is an active account or that charges can be made with it.

In the early days of credit cards, they didn’t actually check this before imprinting a card for small purchases and larger purchases were verified with a phone call. Today, it’s usually done electronically. When your card is swiped, the number is validated by the point of sale system (using the method above) and if the card number is valid then an electronic request is sent to verify the charge will be accepted by the card issuer.

Some retail stores will ask to see your card so they can manually type in the last four digits on the card. This verifies that the number embossed in the card is the same number that is programmed to the magnet stripe on the back; this is one way retailers can catch counterfeit or reprogrammed cards before the goods leave the store.

Broken Secrets

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Sources: Abby’s Guide, HowStuffWorksMerriam ParkMint

February 7, 2011 at 2:00 am 12 comments


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