Posts tagged ‘money’

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

More US Money is Printed Than MONOPOLY Money

By Chad Upton | Editor

I was reading a recent story on cnbc.com and one “fact” seemed particularly unbelievable. It stated that each year, Parker Brothers prints more MONOPOLY money than the US government prints real currency. They even went so far as to say, “You can bet your little, old shoe that money fact is true!”

CNBC, I will take your bet.

In my attempt to track down the truth, I found that this myth is very wide spread. It’s not just CNBC, dozens of other sites make the same claim. I’m not sure where all of these sites got their info, but I like to go to the source.

The US bureau of Engraving and Printing is responsible for printing paper currency in the US. Their website has a page that details exactly how much currency has been printed each year since 1980. It’s very detailed and includes 4 years when $2 bills were printed, totaling about 500 million $2 bills printed since 1980.

Another interesting fact appears at the bottom of that page: 26 million currency notes are printed each day, with a face value of approximately $974 million. In fact, CNBC has this fact on their page too. Although, they quote it as per year rather than per day. I will give them a bit of credit here, the sentence is confusing and could be interpreted as “per year”, but a quick scan of the page can easily correct that interpretation. For example, more than 974 million $1 bills were printed in 2010. Even more $100 bills were printed. So, it can’t be a per year number.

In 2009, the US government printed a total of $2.1 trillion and in 2010 it was just over $2.0 trillion. That’s a lot of money and 95% of it replaces old money that is worn out.

US Currency with Monopoly Money

Next, I tracked down how much money Parker Brothers, a subsidiary of Hasbro, has printed. They started making MONOPOLY in 1935. Until 1998, $15,140 worth of MONOPOLY money was included in each game; current editions include $20,580.

Hasbro states that 250 million copies of MONOPOLY have been sold since 1935 (in 103 Countries and 37 languages). They’ve sold an average of 3.3 million copies per year. If we use the current edition, that would mean they print $67.7 billion during an average year.

At $2 trillion per year, the US government prints much more money than Parker Brothers. In fact, a few years of US currency printing exceeds all 76 years of Parker Brothers printing.

On the other hand, the US mint produces 14-20 billion coins per year. They don’t give a breakdown of the denominations, so it’s impossible to calculate the exact dollar value. Perhaps this myth started as a comparison to the number of coins the US Mint makes each year.

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Sources: Hasbro.com (faq, corporate info), US Bureau of Engraving and Printing, US Mint, CNBC, Wikipedia (Monopoly)

February 4, 2011 at 2:00 am 20 comments

Increase Your Income With Your Credit Card

There are two ways to get rich(er): spend less money and earn more money. Both can be tough, but here’s an easy way to start earning more money immediately.

Credit cards are a real life game and depending on how you play, you can win or lose real money.

When you lose, your credit card issuer wins big. When you win, your card issuer still wins, just not as much as when you lose. So, if you’re going to use a credit card, then you better be winning.

Some people have lost and decided not to play the game anymore, they cut up their credit cards and swear off credit forever. Depending on your lifestyle this may or may not work. In many cases, you need a credit card to rent cars, reserve hotel rooms, book flights and buy online.

Credit card issuers make it easy for you to lose the game. When you apply for their card, they ask you what your income is. Once they know they can trust you, they increase your credit limit beyond what they know you can afford to pay back each month. If you take the bait, they start lining their pockets with your hard earned money. If you carry a balance, you instantly lose the game — if you want to be a winner, be sure you pay your bill in full every month.

That’s the first step to winning. The second step is to switch your card to a high dividend credit (or debit) card. Dividend cards pay you a cash reward for using your card, usually 2-5% of how much you spend. This might not sound like a lot, but many people can make over $1000 per year with this. (more…)

May 24, 2010 at 5:00 am 14 comments

Keeping Secrets Safe at Home

You probably have things in your home that you want to keep safe: cash, checks, credit cards, jewelry, computer data, documents and other valuables.

In case of fire or theft, the best place to put them is in a fireproof safe. This might sound like overkill, but affordable models start around $30.

Safes are an obvious place to put valuables, so you want a bolt-down model — thieves don’t usually have time to open a safe during a robbery but they’ll want to take it with them and open it later.

If you’re looking for a less obvious hiding place, there are many options. You can buy “diversion safes” that look like everyday objects such as: canned food, bleach, candles, books, clocks and many other items.

If you’re going to use one of these safes then you should store it with other similar items; it doesn’t work well if there is a can of fruit in your sock drawer.

The fake bleach container and candle are both good since there are many places you might find those in your house. The bleach container could make a good hiding spot for the spare key in your garage.

The other thing about these “safes” is that they’re not always that safe. For example, they’re not fireproof and they’re very easy to get into, but they can be useful for storing a bit of spare cash when thin-mint go on sale.

If you don’t want to buy a diversion safe, you can make your own. Pringles cans work well.

Sometimes, it just comes down to location. Reader’s Digest interviewed a number of convicted burglars to find out their secrets to successful home robberies and among other things, the robbers revealed that they rarely ever go into kids rooms. Simply putting stuff in your kids rooms may be secure enough, although you may never find it again either.

The same interviews revealed that robbers don’t go near your house if they see a flickering TV or hear a radio because that’s a sure sign that somebody is home. You can buy a small device that emulates a flickering TV and it’s much cheaper to buy and operate on a timer than a real TV.

Although these hiding places would be great for an Easter egg hunt, they shouldn’t be used for really valuable items. The best place for that stuff is in a proper safe, safety deposit box or federally insured instrument such as a bank account.

Broken Secrets | Written By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Reader’s Digest, Reader’s Digest, FakeTV.com

April 28, 2010 at 12:31 am Leave a comment


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