You may take for granted how helpful this is in everyday life, but credit cards, debit cards and government-issued ID cards all follow specific and universally standardized dimensions.
Not only is this convenient for carrying them around in your wallet but it's also easier for banks and businesses to read the cards and complete your transaction when they're all the same size.
In this article, we'll answer the following questions:
- What are the dimensions of a credit card?
- Why are all credit cards the same size?
- What are credit cards made of?
- What is the weight and thickness of a credit card?
Dimensions of a credit card
Credit cards are 3.375 inches wide by 2.125 inches high. This is the same size as a government-issued driver's license. All credit card companies must comply with these standard dimensions. This ensures all cards are compatible with ATMs and point of sale devices.
Why are all credit cards the same size?
Having a universally standard size for credit cards makes it much easier for payment-processing technology to accept them. For example, when you make a purchase at a grocery store, the card reader is built to accept the dimensions outlined above. If every credit card issuer had different sized credit cards, grocery stores would need multiple kinds of card readers on site to ensure at least one of them would match your specific card.
Having a standard size for all credit cards makes conducting business much more streamlined. This also makes it easier to travel abroad as the dimensions of financial cards are the same everywhere in the world.
The size standards were established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This same organization is also responsible for standardizing the length and sequence of credit card numbers. They ensure that we have a singular standard that everyone agrees on so that international business and banking services can be conducted smoothly.
What are credit cards made of?
Most credit cards in use today are made of plastic, or more specifically, PVC. This is a polymer and vinyl acetate mix which creates a water-resistant and durable material. Since credit cards can be heavily used and handled, it's an ideal material.
In recent years though, an even more durable material has made its way into circulation—metal. Metal cards have become more widely used by credit card companies, making them stand out from the others. Aside from being eye-catching, metal credit cards are also sturdier than traditional plastic cards, making them a popular choice for consumers.
What is the weight and thickness of a credit card?
While the size of credit cards always remain the same, you'll see a wide variety of designs and even weight, depending on which card you choose and which company is issuing the credit card.
Plastic cards weigh about 5 grams, while most metal cards weigh somewhere between 13 to 18 grams. When it comes to thickness of credit cards, that too is standardized by the ISO. All cards must be .76 mm thick ( or 0.0299 inches).
Additional credit card features
Aside from weight, you'll find that other features on the card will vary including the placement of the logo, where your credit card number is shown, whether or not there is a space for a signature, and other security features such as a microchip, 3-digit or 4-digit security code (CVV) and magnetic stripe.
We've come a long way from hand written tabs at the corner store. The introduction of the credit card in the 1950's revolutionized the way we buy and sell goods and services. The ISO made sure to standardize the dimensions of physical credit cards so they can be used universally. While the length, width and thickness of credit cards are all standardized, credit card companies and their partners may aim to differentiate their cards with other visual variations.