Do Credit Cards Still Need Raised Numbers?

There was a time, way back, when credit cards weren't processed electronically by stores. Instead, the card was placed on a little mechanical contraption with a receipt made from carbon paper sandwiched between the card and a slider thing. The slide was then pushed across the card, which put pressure on the carbon paper and the raised digits on the credit card – copying down your name, credit card number, and expiration date onto the credit card receipt.

But when was the last time you saw such a device?

I can't see any other reason for the characters on a credit card to be raised the way they are, and if these antiquated "card readers" are the only reason for it, maybe it's time to look into eliminating it.

Is there any reason why this information can't just be printed onto the card? Any reason why a perfectly flat card with numbers that can't wear off doesn't make sense?

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  1. hans said,

    It is still routine for taxicabs to use these "antiquated" carbon-imprint machines. And when you're on a trip that involves hundreds of dollars worth of cab fares and a lot of walking on unfamiliar streets, it's nice to use a card and not ask the poor cabbie to transcribe your digits.

    January 5, 2010 @ 6:44 pm

  2. Richard said,

    The reason why they are still raised is because many merchants use the old impress machines as back-up if their computer system goes down. This also proves the card was actually in the store as it was charged protecting the merchant from potential charge-backs.

    July 11, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

  3. sparx said,

    I understand the reason for them – my point was, how often does this happen? I haven't seen one used in years, and have never had my card run through an impress machine (and would end the transaction if that was all that was available.)

    There was recently (within the last week) a story about a larger bank switching to flat debit cards. The reasoning was that no one uses impress machine's anymore, and the flat cards could be printed out and given to the bank customer when they open their account.

    July 12, 2010 @ 9:08 am

  4. Jason said,

    I work at a motorcycle dealership, and we recently got rid of the old manual carbon copy contraption.

    We get a lot of customers from Mexico who pay with their credit cards. NONE of their cards have raised numbers. That's right, they are all completely flat with the numbers, expiration date, and name printed on them. They still have the holographic logo on them too.

    In the event of a power failure, it would not be wise to accept a credit card number for payment without actually running the card electronically.. even if you make a carbon copy swipe. I have swiped a lot of cards selling stuff, and have seen many "declined" notices.

    February 19, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

  5. diggisaur said,

    The raised numbers are archiac and should be flattened. It is merely a false sense of security. Just like moving the hologram. Doesn't matter where it is as long as it is present.

    The USA continues to be behind in credit card fraud technology. Most other countries have already adopted or have plans to adopt chip and pin technology. The USA is the only country with no plans.

    Try asking a merchant in the UK to swipe a magnetic strip. They will probably look at you weird, like you have just asked them to write something with a quill and parchment.

    Since the adoption of the chip and pin CC fraud in the UK has dropped 90%.

    US banks have not adopted it because it is "too" expensive. Or in reality, cheaper to pay back fradaulent charges on accounts.

    International merchants like Wal-Mart have been begging for chip and pin to come to the USA for years.

    To summarize, that chip looks a whole lot more impressive security wise on your card than raised numbers.

    For those not aware. I am not referring to PayWave or any other chip and security items added to CCs in the USA. Google images of chip and pin and you will see what looks like a cell phone SIM card embedded in the credit cards.

    July 13, 2011 @ 12:24 am

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