Why Credit Card Numbers Are Now On The Back Of The Card

If you’ve recently received a new credit card, you may notice one major difference in its appearance: They no longer have raised numbers on the front. Instead, credit card numbers are now being displayed on the back of the card.

One motivation behind the change may be because numbers are no longer needed for a card to work. In the past, an imprinted image of the numbers on a card would appear on a slip of paper for customers to sign. But traditional magnetic strip cards have now been increasingly replaced by chip cards.

As paying with cash becomes less and less popular, with some businesses going so far as not accepting cash, credit card companies are upping the ante to make their cards appealing in a crowded market.

credit cards photo
Getty Images | Matt Cardy

“Issuers are going to experiment with design as long as there is a physical credit card to be had,” Matt Schulz, a senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, told Slate. “The truth is, people do care how their card looks. If they see one of their friends or family members take out a card that is really interesting, it can catch people’s attention in a way that a boring, standard card can’t.”

Putting the card number on the back also results in increased security for the consumer, as it keeps their information out of sight. Each digit in a credit card number corresponds to a piece of information. Digits 1-6 are issuer-identified numbers. For example, the number 1 is for airlines. The first digit is also different for each card network. MasterCards all begin with a five.

Other trends in credit cards this year include more branded cards, such as the Uber Visa, more luxe benefits for premium cards, simplified reward structures intended to boost long-term customer loyalty and new shapes and sizes for improved aesthetics, like a gem-encrusted, custom credit card from Rosan Diamond.

Do you care how your credit card looks?