why are credit/debit/bank cards still so BIG?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by NewGenAdam, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. NewGenAdam macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2008
    When I look at my Visa, I see a lot of wasted space.
    It seems that all the stuff on them could be compressed into something half the size.

    the numbers, expiry, name etc; the logo; even the chip, and magnetic strip could all go on one half alone.
    Or is the strip a physical limit because it needs to be long enough to swipe?

    Perhaps the current size is considered by some to be optimal.
    But to me it seems antiquated and unnecessarily big.
    Maybe I care too much!
  2. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3


    Apr 6, 2007
    Portland, OR
    It fits in a wallet and they're easy to lose enough already. Plus it's a standard and I'm sure it'd be a hassle to switch everything to a new smaller form factor.
  3. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Feb 2, 2009
    Toronto, Ontario
  4. JNB macrumors 604


    Oct 7, 2004
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    CR80 is an international standard for the overall card dimensions. On the back, the magstripes—Track 2 (ABA, the primary section used on credit/debit cards) along with Track 1 (IATA, airlines and also the banking industry) and Track 3 (open, mostly used by the offline lock industry (hotel room keys))—all have specific dimensional and character count/spacing requirements, and every read/write head and card swipe/insert on the planet are oriented to meet the existing configurations.

    So, does it have to be that big? Not really, but it's simpler & cheaper to just leave it as it is instead of convincing everybody that a new set of standards for all of that is worth taking up a little less real estate. Sorta like why we don't all have hydrogen fuel cells in our cars already. ;)
  5. NewGenAdam thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2008
    thanks, i'd guessed as much. So there's not enough incentive to overhaul the entire industry for the sake of being a little more compact.
    I want it small
  6. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    Why? Your wallet can only be as small as your biggest card, and looking at my drivers license, there doesn't seem to be a way to make that smaller. Might as well keep everything the same side.

    A few years ago, banks tried smaller cards designed to fit on keychains. I saw them often when I worked at Target. They didn't work in our PIN pads and the customers had to hand their entire keychain to us so we could swipe it at the register. The cards wouldn't work in ATMs or gas pump card readers either.
  7. NewGenAdam thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2008
    Yes but I could get twice as many cards into my wallet, putting two cards where one was before.
    Why didn't they work in the pin pads? My chip is completely on one half of the card.
    But I can imagine difficulties with cash machines or anything which swallows the entire card, because of mechanisms etc
  8. OutThere macrumors 603


    Dec 19, 2002
    All of my cards: student ID, credit card, debit card, bank card, library card, driver's license, health insurance card, price chopper rewards card etc are the same size. They all fit nicely in my 30 year old wallet. I'd be kind of pissed if one company decided to be cool and make a card that didn't match the standards and therefore gave me a headache every time I tried to put it in my wallet.

    Same story with optical media....CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays are all the same size because nobody wants to deal with something that doesn't fit or match everything else.
  9. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
  10. Dagless macrumors Core


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU
  11. Xavier macrumors 68030

    Mar 23, 2006
    Lol, I like this idea.
  12. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    Don't see the size changing. Too many devices established around the world with that standard.

    Who knows, someday we may see one credit card for multiple accounts. So when you slide it through, you can select which account to use be it AMEX, DC, MC, Vista, etc.
  13. Jhanson09 macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2009
    kansas city, mo
    would like them smaller, but that will not ever happen. Next step is RFID and card-less transactions, which are even better. and cards not getting any smaller compared to why we don't use hydrogen cars??? really? i think there are a few more reasons than that haha
  14. localoid macrumors 68020


    Feb 20, 2007
    America's Third World
    Be careful... They say the last guy who questioned the ISO/IEC 7810 standard as set forth by the International Organization for Standardization ended up spending his final days on an island talking to himself...

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