Why dont credit cards have PIN numbers?

Yes, another credit card question.

It has not been explained to me why there is no security to prevent someone from using another persons credit card. With a Savings card, you have a PIN that acts as security.

So, why dont credit cards have PIN’s (or photos)?

If someone steals a credit card, they can use it to purchase goods and services until the card is cancelled. You dont even need the card, you can just use the number.

It seems strange not to have some sort of security other than just a signature, which is easy to forge, and noone ever checks it anyway. I would think a credit card would require more security than a savings card since a credit card can be overdrawn.

I’ve wondered the same thing. Millions are lost every year due to credit card theft. You’d think the credit card companies would make it a little rougher to use someone’s card since they foot the bill. The card owner is usually protected as long as he reports it stolen in a reasonable amount of time. I guess they don’t care much since they’re still making a mint ripping consumers off with ridiculous interest fees.

Some credit cards, can be used like cash/debit cards in ATMs and do have PIN numbers.

I’m going to chime in here with a “me too, me too”.

All the money and complaining about about fraud, etc. If a company came out with a card that could only be used with a pin code, that would save tons of money for the credit card companies.

I suppose there would be a huge initial cost until retailers put in a system to handle the new cards. You would think it could be tied into the system that requires pin codes on ATM cards. I’d think they’d still save money overall.

I’ve always wondered that… I’m glad someone has finally asked.


While this is true, I don’t think it’s the point the OP was trying to make. If CC companies had a card that required a pin code before the charge could be processed, then it would save a ton on fraud losses.

That would make the card harder to use; people would be unable to use their card when they forget the PIN number; and I guess (sorry, no cite) that credit card companies might gamble on making more money off the interest they charge on the extra credit accrued if the card is easy to use, than they currently lose through fraud.
Credit card companies do institute measures to prevent fraud, such as a photo ID on the credit card. The presence of the photo ID does not make the card more difficult to use for Mr. J. Smith.

Add to that the fact that credit card machines all over the world would need to be modified to allow entry of a PIN.

Someone’s already answered the first half of this one, that some cards do have a PIN associated with.

To answer the second half, some cards also have the photo of the bearer on the card.

For cards that don’t, the bearer is free to print the words “Please Check Photo ID” next to their siganture in the signature block. Any responsible clerk looking close enough to do an actual signature comparison will see the request, and ask for aditional ID.

However, in personal experience, very few clerks are looking that close, even the ones who have flipped my card over to supposedly look at the signature.

Many cards now have a Card Security Code(known by either CSC or CVV2). Here is a good link explaining it.

PIN numbers are pretty much standard on Credit Cards here in New Zealand to the point that I get pissed off at work with people who don’t have one and slow everything down. redit cards just go through the EPOS system along with everything else.

That’s nice Blueapple, but in the case of card theft, it does no good what so ever because it’s on the card. :slight_smile:

AFAIK, all the cards here have a chip and a PIN number…Ten years ago or so, they had not. So, I assume it’s probably not a major issue to introduce this change…

Do you people realize that all you’re responsible for it someone gets your number and uses it is a lousy $50? And every card I’ve ever had has had a pin number, which I’ve refused to remember. Just check it and I’ll bet your card has a pin number and you didn’t know it.

My two credit cards have PIN numbers too, but that’s only to allow me to use it at the ATM if I desire.

I’m glad my credit card doesn’t have a PIN. Credit cards add purchases to a running tab that I’ve yet to pay for; debit cards extract the money directly from your savings/checking account. The reason debit cards have a PIN is not to protect the bank, it’s to protect you. If you write your PIN down on a piece of paper in your wallet, and someone steals it and uses your debit card to clear out your savings, you’ve lost your money unless the cops can get it back. With a credit card, the credit card company is fronting the money for your purchases until you can pay them back. Therefore, not having a PIN means it’s not your liability, and if someone racks up charges by stealing your card, the card company will take care of it, and you can get on with your life.

I know some cards have a PIN that is used with a magnetic strip. And I suppose a few have photos. The weird thing is that there are cards - most credit cards - that have no PIN protecting them from illegal use.

I also know that the owner of the card does not bear the loss.

I still dont understand why the bank does not require a PIN to protect the card.

Arnold Winkelried’s explanation sounds the best so far - the bit about banks being prepared to loose a lot of money to fraud, when they make it back on interest made by not hassling people with a PIN. But that still seems a bit far fetched:

  1. PIN are not difficult to remember
  2. Would having to recite a four digit number stop people from spending less, that it would justify the risk of fraud in the first place. Surely not.


Just read chriszarate post.

Sure this protects us, the consumer at the time; but someone must have to pay for the fraud. The banks? Who pays the banks?..the consumer.

I suppose it is spreading out risk and liability over all consumers.

All credit cards in France have PIN numbers and, everywhere they can be used ( supermarkets , restaurants etc ) there is a portable keyboard device in which you key your PIN. Th,ere is a small hood over them so that you cannot be overlooked when keying in. This same set-up is being introduced in the UK over the next few years.

Your credit card is already protected by your signature. If that’s of no use, what good is a PIN number? Furthermore, how many credit cards do you have? Are you going to have a separate number for each of your cards? How do you remember them all?

We have them all over the place in Sweden, but I refuse to use them and insist on signing a piece of paper. In my experience I can always see what code the person in front of me puts in, which IMHO makes the whole process a hell of a lot more insecure.

In Sweden if you do sign instead of use the code they (usually) insist on seeing some form of photo ID.