How do credit companies keep track of transactions?

I heard that all credit card companies such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and etc., all keep track of their credit transactions in a bank at Switzerland with a complex computer ominiously nicknamed, “The Beast.” Is this true or a baseless rumor?

Baseless rumor.

And obviously silly. Most of the credit card transactions occur in the USA & Canada; why would anyone transmit them across to Europe instead of just storing them somewhere in Northa America? That doesn’t make sense.

Plus the companies you list are competing with each other! They take great effort to keep their information secret from their competitors. They cooperate only the minimal amount needed to allow customers to use their cards at any store; otherwise they do all they can to compete with each other.

Personally, I have worked in data processing at 2 of the companies you mentioned. Norwest Bank (prior to the merger with Wells Fargo) VISA info was kept in 2 computers about a mile apart in downtown Minneapolis, MN, and in a 3rd computer system in Des Moines, IA. Note that this is only 1 bank’s VISA accounts. There are many other banks that process VISA accounts; they each have their own location where they store their info.

American Express card info was kept in a computer near Boulder, CO, and another one on the East cost, in the New York/New Jersey area. Years ago, companies made a big deal of their computer centers, had grand openings & stockholder tours, etc. In recent years, they’ve found it more advisable to keep them a much lower profile. Often the programmers who work on the computers don’t even know exactly where the machines are physically located. At American Express, we referred to them as the “East Coast” and the “Western” site. We only knew the general vicinity of the Western one because of the area code we used to call them.

A surprising number of US card transactions are routed through (but not necessarily stored at) the Cupertino, CA campus of HP, (formerly Compaq, formerly Tandem) - the makers of the hyper-reliable servers used to process credit/debit card and ATM transactions.

Where are you getting these questions? Is someone feeding you conspiracy theories? Is there anything about the claim that makes any sense to you? Did this one sneak by your bullshit detector? Is the New World Order creeping up on us again? Oh, no, not again!

Is your credit card app all filled out, waiting for that fateful day when you can apply? :slight_smile: Are you fearful that the Swiss will reject it? :frowning:

Here’s Snopes on one variation of this rumor with links to other versions.

I remember hearing about this putative “Beast” going back 20-25 years in one of those Hal Lindsey-style books-turned-movies which also IIRC included footage of some super computer running permutations on the names of world leaders trying to figure out which one added up to 666 (all the while managing to miss Ronald Wilson Reagan).

Yes, in a way my more paranoid friends are feeding me conspiracy theories. No, there’s nothing in it to make me feel that it’s true, but I feel better to ask and make sure I’m not the only one to believe that this is nonsense.
Yes, my credit card application is all filled out and waiting for my day I turn eighteen. The only fear I have is that it will be rejected because since I’m still technically a minor for three more weeks, I have no real credit to speak of. :frowning:

Paranoid questions are not the only ones I plan to post, I have a question about Baking soda that I want to ask and I’ll post in good time.

Maybe you can get a co-signer, or deposit some cash. Credit cards are pretty easy to obtain if you can put up some cash to draw upon, and in using it, you build up credit.

[Homer]Mmmm…baking soda…[/homer]