Decode your credit card digits & keep your money more secure

We believe that the Curve card is the next evolution of the humble bank card - the ubiquitous piece of plastic that has been around for over fifty years. But do we really understand everything these tiny pieces of plastic - and how we can best use them to keep our information safe? Here’s a quick recap.

Where did the first credit card come from?

Legend has it that the first credit card came into existence in 1946. According to MasterCard it was called "Charg-It, and was introduced by John Biggins, a banker in Brooklyn. When a customer used it for a purchase, the bill was forwarded to Biggins' bank. The bank reimbursed the merchant and obtained payment from the customer. What was the catch? Purchases could only be made locally, and Charg-It cardholders had to have an account at Biggins' bank. Cards then were the opposite of what they are now - a local, limiting device. It’s an understatement to say the market has grown since then - in November 2015 there were approximately 97 million debit cards in circulation in the UK - alone. That’s a lot of pieces of plastic being tapped, swiped and signed for each day - and a lot of information being transmitted. At Curve we’re trying to lighten that load - consolidating all your cards into one single card, both lightening your wallet but also making it easier to access your cards with one single pin. But we also think it’s really important to understand the meaning behind the digits on your card, and how you can best keep yourself safe.

How do you keep your card details safe?

Your credit card has several pieces of information visible to the eye - the 16 digit number across the front, the start and expiry dates, the CVV (Card Verification Value), and your name. Keep your card safe by not tweeting any pictures of it, or leaving lying around (it’s easy for someone to take a picture of it and de-fraud you in the future). Always block your card if you’ve lost it - it’s better to be safe than sorry, even if it does show up later.

Let’s start with that first 16 digit number. The first 4 - 6 digits refer to the BIN (Bank Issuing Number). The BIN identifies the institution issuing the card, and is critical to the correct matching of transactions to the issuer of the charge card. For example, the Curve BIN tells merchants that we are a Curve MasterCard - and to charge it as such.

The sensitive six. Digits 7-12 on your card are the most sensitive of that 12 digit number. They refer to your unique account, and should never be shared. In fact the only digits you should ever share - if anyone asks you - are the last 4 digits. These are semi-sensitive, and can be used by people like customer support to identify you.

The CVV value is normally used for card not present transactions, like shopping over the Internet - credit card regulations state that this number can never be stored by the merchant making it more difficult for a thief to get hold of it. Interestingly it is calculated by encrypting the bank card number, expiration date and service code using encryption keys known only to the issuing bank. The end result is that three or four digit decimal number printed on the back or front of your card.

There are strict regulations on how that CVV number can be stored when you shop online. What you should watch out for is whether the website begins with https or http. The ‘s’ refers to secure, and if it isn’t present - you shouldn’t hand over your details. It goes without saying that the CVV should never be shared on social media or by customer support agents.

One of the key benefits we see in Curve is the fact that its numbers mask all your original cards' details - which are now stored safely at home. This means much less of a risk from fraud, as you’re not exposing them on a daily basis to merchants - both online and offline. If you lose your Curve you can quickly block it from your phone, and if you’ve lost your phone as well, we’ve got a 24 hour hotline to keep you safe and secure.

Order your Curve now at our website - Want to find out more? You can see Curve in action here. Using Curve and would like to leave some feedback? We'd love to hear fro you - get in touch with us via Facebook or follow us on Twitter!