Credit Card Size & Dimensions: What Determines its Look, Feel & Sizes
Do you know why your credit card is shaped the way it is? Or what determines the size? There are standards that determine your cards look, feel, and thickness. Read on to learn more about Credit Card Size.
What is a Credit Card?
A credit card is a payment card issued to users (cardholders) to enable the cardholder to pay a merchant for goods and services.
Based on the cardholder’s promise to the card issuer to pay them for the amounts plus the other agreed charges.
A credit card is different from a charge card, which requires the balance to be repaid in full each month.
What are the Dimensions of a Credit Card?
There are actually international standards for the size of credit cards. If we didn’t have any, can you imagine how difficult it would be to manage all those cards in your wallet?
You’d have ID cards fitting in sideways, and credit cards getting lost in their slots. In addition, credit card machines would be proprietary to certain cards and not others. No, that just wouldn’t do.
Instead, the International Organization for Standardization has developed four different standard sizes for identification cards.
They each have names: ID-000, ID-1, ID-2, and ID-3. The standard credit card size is ID-1, a size that is also commonly referred to as CR80. A standard CR80 credit card has the following dimensions:
- Width of 3.37 inches (85.6 mm)
- Height of 2.125 (53.98 mm)
This means that any card you get for standard business transactions—anything from credit or debit purchases to gift card use—is about 3.5 inches by 2 inches.
What Determines this Standard Size?
It’s usually the mag strip or magnetic strip on the back of the card that plays a part in establishing the standard credit card size.
- If your credit card needs to be inserted into a machine, it has to obviously match the size the machine is made for.
- Most money-based credit cards require the standard CR80 size
- Money-based credit cards need to have the same thickness as credit card machines
- Other cards can be thinner or thicker depending on the use
If a card is set at a thickness of 20-24 mil:
- The card feels more flexible
If a card is set at a thickness of around 10-15 mil:
- The card feels as thin as paper
If a card is set at a thickness of .76mm (30 mil) and higher:
- The card is generally used for parking garages and getting into buildings
Reasons Credit Cards all have the Same Size
- If not for its pre-determined size, it would be nerve-wracking to manage all of those credit cards in your wallet.
- It makes it easier to find a wallet that makes it seamless to store all of their credit cards
- Credit cards that share the same measurements can make it easy for businesses to use a single card reader that can accommodate these measurements
While having the same measurements for all credit cards can seem like a minor prerequisite, it can have far-reaching outcomes that are enough to make it a serious matter.
Credit Card Materials
Although the size of every card may be the same, different credit cards have very different looks. One of the things that set cards apart is the materials from which they are made.
Some of the materials commonly used for cards include:
‣ Metal: Metal is often reserved for luxury credit cards for people who want to spend in style. Metal credit cards are heavier and often have a more elegant look.
‣ Gold: Some exclusive luxury cards take design and elegance to a whole new level — they’re sometimes plated in gold.
‣ Plastic: Plastic cards don’t have the elegant look of metal or gold-plated cards but can be lighter to carry around in your wallet.
And if you don’t want (or qualify for) a higher-tier credit card, a plastic one may be your only option.
Parts of a Credit Card
Cards differentiate themselves not just with their materials but also with designs. Many creditors actually go out of their way to make sure they provide the best-looking credit card.
Style-conscious borrowers appreciate this attention to detail. Even though they look different, however, most credit card designs include the same basic components:
A Logo from the Issuing Bank
The issuing bank is the financial institution that markets the card. Examples include Bank of America and Citibank.
A Credit Card Network Logo
The credit card network determines where a card is accepted and what fees are charged when the card is swiped.
There are four major card networks: Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and American Express.
The Card Name
Many cards have names, such as Premier Rewards, Platinum Card, or Cash Rewards. The card’s name is usually on the card itself.
An EMV Chip
EMV chips are small chips that hold cardholder information. EMV stands for Europay, Mastercard, and Visa, which is the global standard for the technology that makes these chips work.
Chips actually come in two forms: chip-and-signature, which requires you to sign the receipt slip; or chip-and-PIN, which requires you to input a PIN number to complete a transaction.
Holograms aren’t on all cards. They are security features with multiple layers that make it harder to copy a card.
The Card Number
Every credit card has an identifying number displayed on it. The American National Standards Institute or ISO assigns credit card numbers. This could be on the front or back of the card.
The Card Security Code
Security codes help prevent fraud in situations where you don’t swipe a card. Security codes are three digits for three of the four card issuers; American Express cards have four-digit numbers.
An Expiration Date
Cards are good only for a limited period of time. Each card has a printed expiration date. When your card expires, your card issuer typically sends you another card automatically.
The Cardholder Name
Cards contain the name of the person authorized to use them. This could be on the front or back of the card.
A Tap to Pay Chip
Some, but not all cards, contain contactless chips to allow you to simply tap your card to pay instead of having to swipe or insert it into a card reader machine.
Tap-to-pay chips aren’t usually visible. However, there’s often a symbol on the front or back of the card that shows you where the chip is embedded.
A Signature Field
Signature fields are where you put your signature on chip-and-signature cards. Some people write “SEE ID”
On the signature card instead as an added measure of security if they want the merchant to ask to see ID upfront versus trying to determine if the signatures match.
A Magnetic Stripe
Magnetic stripes, or magstripes, have millions of tiny magnetic particles that hold account information.
When a merchant swipes your credit card using a card reader, the reader detects the information on this strip. If the reader cannot read the information, it can’t process the transaction.
You Can Choose a Credit Card Depending On
- Design based on how it looks
- The Material
- Other features such as a rewards program, APR, and other perks
Now you know that no matter which credit card you sign up for, it will be the same size thanks to international standards.
However, you can pick your card based on material, design, or — ideally — features like the APR, rewards program, and perks.
You can also rest easy knowing your card will always fit in your wallet and in chip readers, so you don’t have to worry about it being too small or too large.