Credit Card Question

I was under the impression that the first 4 digits of a standard 16 digit credit card number denote the credit card processor, whether it is Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express etc.

If that’s still the case, why do they make you specify that you have a Visa, MasterCard etc. when you are submitting your credit card online? I sometimes select the wrong one and the app complains that my number doesn’t match the credit card type.

Isn’t this step redundant, or is the above rule not hard and fast anymore?

Redundancy is a good thing – it helps to see if someone is using a fake number.

Redundancy is a good thing – it helps to see if someone is using a fake number.

Redundancy is a good thing – it helps to see if someone is using a fake number.

This rule certainly isn’t a secret. I would imagine that any fraudster could figure out what card type to pick. Even if they got it wrong all they have to do it keep trying until they picked the right choice (there are usually 4 or less choices to pick from).

I don’t see it as much of a fraud deterrent but instead a wasted step in an already tedious process.

Same reason why they make you enter both a city/state and a ZIP code, when just a ZIP code would be sufficient. Adding a bit of redundancy into the system is a good sanity check. When you have an application open to the public, there’s no telling what kind of weird data will find its way in.

Funny you should mention that friedo. A have recently noticed that a few online sites now only require a zip code and auto-populate the city and state for you on the form. I think that is a huge leap for mankind in simplifying the online ordering process, and apparently they aren’t overly concerned about encouraging fraud as a result…

All you need to know about credit card numbers…

But what happens if the address uses a Postal Code and not a Zip Code? Unless the site owner has purchased a worldwide database of addresses to assist their international customers, it makes sense to have the redundancy. friedo’s sanity check just makes good business sense.

Redundancy is a good thing – it helps to see if someone is usÎng a fake number.

Redundancy doesn’t just check for fraud; it also checks for errors, which I imagine are the far more common problem. You yourself said that sometimes you “select the wrong one.”

The individuals who design most data entry forms for web pages are … “special”. Trying to make things easier for the user to allow some shortcuts is just not part of their world. E.g., you almost always have to enter a date like 01/01/2012. You can rarely get away with typing 1/1/2012. Those zeros have to be entered or else their universe implodes.

Never ascribe a sophisticated strategy, like error checking, for something that can be explained by people who are just too lazy to do it right.

IMHO, if an online vendor doesn’t accept any and all brands of credit cards it’s a lot more customer-friendly to have the customer pick from a selection of acceptable cards and then type in his/her number than to have him/her type in his/her credit card number and only then check the card type and say “Sorry, we don’t accept Sunoco credit cards”.

Rio, by Duran Duran.

I imagine that’s a big part of it. We had a thread here a few weeks ago asking why online order forms often ask you to enter your e-mail address twice…the redundancy helps make sure that you’re entering the correct address (since it’s often the best, if not only, way for the vendor to get in touch with you about your order).

Redundancy is a… oh, never mind. :slight_smile:

AmEx cards have different numbers of digits in the account and the CVV code. If someone were to make a typo, the error checking system might give them the wrong error. For example, an AmEx user enters 4 as the first digit. You want to tell them “This is not a valid AmEx number” rather than “You did not enter 16 digits for your Visa card.”