Saturday, October 11, 2008

Welcome to the World of Credit Cards

Do you have a credit card ?
Are you planing to buy a credit card ?
Do you know how it works, its History?
All information about Credit Cards will get from this webportal

Credit Card
A credit card is a system of payment named after the small plastic card issued to users of the system. A credit card is different from a debit card in that it does not remove money from the user's account after every transaction. In the case of credit cards, the issuer lends money to the consumer (or the user).

It is also different from a charge card (though this name is sometimes used by the public to describe credit cards), which requires the balance to be paid in full each month. In contrast, a credit card allows the consumer to 'revolve' their balance, at the cost of having interest charged. Most credit cards are the same shape and size, as specified by the ISO 7810 standard

Discover Credit Card

The credit card was the successor of a variety of merchant credit schemes. It was first used in the 1920s, in the United States, specifically to sell fuel to a growing number of automobile owners. In 1938 several companies started to accept each other's cards.

The concept of using a card for purchases was invented in 1887 by Edward Bellamy and described in his utopian novel Looking Backward.
The concept of paying merchants using a card was invented in 1950 by Ralph Schneider and Frank X. McNamara in order to consolidate multiple cards.

Bank of America created the BankAmericard in 1958, a product which eventually evolved into the Visa system ("Chargex" also became Visa). MasterCard came to being in 1966 when a group of credit-issuing banks established MasterCharge. The fractured nature of the US banking system meant that credit cards became an effective way for those who were traveling around the country to, in effect, move their credit to places where they could not directly use their banking facilities. In 1966 Barclaycard in the UK launched the first credit card outside of the US.

There are now countless variations on the basic concept of revolving credit for individuals (as issued by banks and honored by a network of financial institutions), including organization-branded credit cards, corporate-user credit cards, store cards and so on.

In contrast, although having reached very high adoption levels in the US, Canada and the UK, it is important to note that many cultures were much more cash-oriented in the latter half of the twentieth century, or had developed alternative forms of cash-less payments, like Carte blue, or the EC-card (Germany, France, Switzerland, among many others). In these places, the take-up of credit cards was initially much slower. It took until the 1990s to reach anything like the percentage market-penetration levels achieved in the US, Canada or UK. In many countries acceptance still remains poor as the use of a credit card system depends on the banking system being perceived as reliable.

In contrast, because of the legislative framework surrounding banking system overdrafts, some countries, France in particular, were much faster to develop and adopt chip-based credit cards which are now seen as major anti-fraud credit devices.

Bank Credit Card

A user is issued credit after an account has been approved by the credit provider, with which the user will be able to make purchases from merchants accepting that credit card up to a pre-established credit limit.

When a purchase is made, the credit card user agrees to pay the card issuer. The cardholder indicates their consent to pay, by signing a receipt with a record of the card details and indicating the amount to be paid or by entering a PIN. Also, many merchants now accept verbal authorizations via telephone and electronic authorization using the Internet, known as a Card not present (CNP) transaction.

Electronic verification systems allow merchants to verify that the card is valid and the credit card customer has sufficient credit to cover the purchase in a few seconds, allowing the verification to happen at time of purchase. The verification is performed using a credit card payment terminal or Point of Sale (POS) system with a communications link to the merchant's acquiring bank. Data from the card is obtained from a magnetic stripe or chip on the card; the latter system is in the United Kingdom commonly known as Chip and PIN, but is more technically an EMV card.

Other variations of verification systems are used by eCommerce merchants to determine if the user's account is valid and able to accept the charge. These will typically involve the cardholder providing additional information, such as the security code printed on the back of the card, or the address of the cardholder.

Each month, the credit card user is sent a statement indicating the purchases undertaken with the card, any outstanding fees, and the total amount owed. After receiving the statement, the cardholder may dispute any charges that he or she thinks are incorrect. Otherwise, the cardholder must pay a defined minimum proportion of the bill by a due date, or may choose to pay a higher amount up to the entire amount owed. The credit provider charges interest on the amount owed (typically at a much higher rate than most other forms of debt).

Credit card issuers usually waive interest charges if the balance is paid in full each month, but typically will charge full interest on the entire outstanding balance from the date of each purchase if the total balance is not paid.

Credit Card Services

As well as convenient, accessible credit, the cards offer consumers an easy way to track expenses, which is necessary for both monitoring personal expenditures and the tracking of work-related expenses for taxation and reimbursement purposes. Credit cards are accepted worldwide, and are available with a large variety of credit limits, repayment arrangement, and other perks (such as rewards schemes in which points earned by purchasing goods with the card can be redeemed for further goods and services or credit card cashback).

Some countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and France limit the amount for which a consumer can be held liable due to fraudulent transactions as a result of a consumer's credit card being lost or stolen.

Credit Card Security

The low security of the credit card system presents countless opportunities for fraud. This opportunity has created a huge black market in stolen credit card numbers, which are generally used quickly before the cards are reported stolen.

The goal of the credit card companies is not to eliminate fraud, but to "reduce it to manageable levels", such that the total cost of both fraud and fraud prevention is minimized. This implies that high-cost low-return fraud prevention measures will not be used if their cost exceeds the potential gains from fraud reduction.

Most Internet fraud is done through the use of stolen credit card information which is obtained in many ways, the simplest being copying information from retailers, either online or offline. Despite efforts to improve security for remote purchases using credit cards, systems with security holes are usually the result of poor implementations of card acquisition by merchants. For example, a website that uses SSL to encrypt card numbers from a client may simply email the number from the webserver to someone who manually processes the card details at a card terminal. Naturally, anywhere card details become human-readable before being processed at the acquiring bank is a security risk. However, many banks offer systems such as ClearCommerce, where encrypted card details captured on a merchant's webserver can be sent directly to the payment processor.

Controlled Payment Numbers are another option for protecting one's credit card number: they are "alias" numbers linked to one's actual card number, generated as needed, valid for a relatively short time, with a very low limit, and typically only valid with a single merchant.

The way a credit card-owner pays off his/her balances has a tremendous effect on his/her credit history. All the information is collected by credit bureaus. The credit information stays on the credit report for 7 years except for bankruptcies, which remain for 10 years