3 security aspects about your credit card's design you should consider

3 security aspects about your credit card's design you should consider

Credit cards and comic books have a couple of things in common when it comes to my finances. They both tempt me to spend lots of money, and design is very important factor for me. A well designed cover may tempt me to give a new comic book title a chance, even though I'm not familiar with the characters or the creative team. On the other hand, a poorly crafted cover design will usually turn me off from a comic, unless I'm a big fan of the writer or artist.

What about credit card designs? How much does that affect your decision to apply for one?

Well, obviously, you shouldn't apply for a credit card based solely on its design. That said, I will admit that I have previously applied for the DBS Black Card due to its unique matte finish design which has apparently been discontinued. And I am genuinely deliberating if I want to apply for the American Express Personal Card simply because of its iconic classic design.

But there is one credit card that you want to think twice about applying for because of its design. And that is the new UOB YOLO Card.

But I like the UOB YOLO Card design. It's snazzy and unique.

Yes, it's to UOB's credit (pun totally intended) that they're trying to break the mould when it comes to card designs. It claims to be the first in South East Asia to use Visa's new "Quick Read" design, which was introduced more than a year ago.

By placing all 16 numbers on the side of the card, they're making it easy to refer to, especially when you're making online transactions. Not only that, but some card holder designs are vertical, thus there's no need to pull the card out all the way to see all the important details. Which brings me to the first major aspect of credit card design.

1. A credit card design should make it difficult for fraudsters to obtain card details!

What's convenient for you is also convenient for someone with less than legal intentions. In this day and age, you don't need to produce a physical card for transactions anymore. You usually need three pieces of information for a transaction: Your 16-digit card number, your card expiry date and a 3-digit security code (4 digits for American Express cards).

In a typical card design, even if you take a photo of the front face of the card, you won't know the security code, which is found at the back of the card. Up till now, the only exception to this rule were the American Express cards, which have the 4-digit security code printed on the front of the card. Now the UOB YOLO card adds to this infamous design logic, and takes it one step further - by putting all the information conveniently on the same side of the card! Now fraudsters don't even have to see the whole card to get your credit card info, just 20 per cent of the card face.

2. When taking a photo of your card, know which digits to cover

A month ago, this photo came across my Facebook News Feed.

In an attempt to show off his sophisticated new title (which we'll talk about later), this Facebook user covered the first eight digits of his card number with his thumb. This made no sense. Here's why:

The first two digits of a card indicate the card issuer. If the number starts with 34 or 37, it is an American Express Card. If it starts with 4, it is a Visa, and if it starts with 51, 52, 53, 54 or 55, it is a MasterCard.

The first six digits of a card number is known as the BIN or bank identification number. They are the same for all credit and debit cards of the same type. So for example, 5520 38 are the first 6 digits of every POSB Everyday Card, 4628 45 are the first 6 digits of every DBS Visa Debit Card.

So if you can see the design of the card, you can guess what the first 6 digits are.

In addition, each card number also uses a simple formula known as the Luhn algorithm. Using this formula, you can either determine the last digit based on the first 15 numbers, or use the last digit to find out what the other numbers are.

So, in this particular case, the Facebook user's card is a POSB Go! Debit Card. Knowing that, we know what the first 6 digits are, and can use the last digit of the card, "7", to guess what the remaining hidden numbers are.

So, when you're taking a photo of your card for whatever reason, always cover the LAST eight digits at least. You should also cover the expiry date of the card, since that information is also used for making transactions.

3. Wait, wait, wait… you can put any name you want on the credit card?

Well, yes and no. For one thing, there is a limit to the number of characters you can use. Since 2014, MasterCard limits you to 22 characters, VISA to 21. Most banks here will expect you to at least have elements of your name according to your IC. This, of course, is to prevent identity theft.

So what's stopping you from putting a self-proclaimed title in your name? Well, there's the knowledge that you usually have to indicate the exact name on your credit card every time you use it online. While it may be funny to type your fantastic new name on Amazon or eBay, it may not be so funny when you buy your plane ticket or hotel room online and then have a whole legion of airline and hotel employees calling security if you turn out not to be who you say you are.

This article first appeared on MoneySmart


MoneySmart.sg is Singapore’s leading personal finance portal, and aims to help people maximise their money with powerful tools and engaging content.

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