This sounds like a dumb question, but have you ever taken a closer look at your credit card? Most people do not pay much attention to their credit cards other than obtaining a vanity card that has a customized picture on it of some sentimental value. Credit cards are so common now that we no longer pay attention to them much.
- The front. The first thing you notice on your card is the card number, of course. It is the raised numbers that represent your unique number. No one else has this number, and it is the gateway to your account and the ability to spend money that will be registered on your account so you need to be very careful with this number. Never write it down on another piece of paper unless you are sure that it is secure and concealed for prying eyes.
- Next, note that you have a valid thru date which is the month and year that your card will remain valid until it expires automatically. You will also be sent a new card before it expires so you should not have to worry about that. If you find that your card number has been compromised, you should request a new one as soon as possible. This will generate a new number with a new valid thru date on it.Visa and MasterCard have a small holographic image stamped onto the card at the time of manufacture that allows a merchant to look at it in certain lighting to verify that it is an authentic card and not a forgery.
- The card holders name is embossed onto the card in the lower left-hand corner of the card. This is the official name on the account of the card holder as well.
- The back. On the reverse side of the card there are several distinguishing features of a credit card. First, is the black stripe that runs the full length of the card from left to right. This is the magnetic strip that contains the card number. When you run your card through a card reader machine at a merchant upon making a purchase, the card reader reads the number off of that strip and transferrs it into the system in order to process your payment.
- There is also a box in which you are supposed to sign your name. In fact, the cards claim not to be valid unless you do so. But there is also a suggestion by people who desire more security to NOT sign your name here. Instead, force the merchant to ask for your drivers license or other id in order to verify your identity.
- You might also see the card number in smaller characters. But the more important item near this area is what is known as the CCV – the Card Code Verification number. This number is supposed to be asked for as a way to make sure that a buyer actually has the card in hand in order to make a purchase. It is not done as much as it should be, but it can help make sure that the card holder really has the card in hand.
- The final items on the back of the card have to do with the issuing financial institution. You should see the name of the issuing bank and an 800 number to use in order to get in touch with them in case you have any problems or questions.
- Also, you might see some other logos or symbols that give you an indication of which ATM machines will accept your card for cash transactions. Card holders use their cards to obtain cash advances from their credit card accounts. Or in the case of the card being a debit card rather than a credit card, the funds come right out of the checking account to which the card is tied.
These are the items on your credit card that you should pay attention to at least once. The more you know, the more trouble you can save yourself in the future.