Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Credit Card Orientation Markers

Insert *this*
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Many automated credit card readers require the card to be inserted in a specific orientation—i.e., stripe up or down, and on the left or right hand side. Unfortunately, there's no easy and instantly clear way to indicate the correct orientation. Even if there's an image of the card as a guide, translating that graphic into a 3D orientation is a difficult task for many people to perform quickly, which often leads to frustrating and time-consuming misreads.

There should be a standardized set of four symbols that are printed on every card, with each symbol near a short edge on the top and bottom. These symbols would be simple graphics that are rotationally asymmetrical. For example, a crescent, a T shape, a P shape, and a U shape. One of these symbols would be printed next to the card slot on the reader. You simply find the matching symbol on the card and insert that “edge” into the reader. The lack of rotational symmetry ensures that if you're looking at the matching symbol, you have the card oriented correctly for that particular reader.

ytk, Aug 04 2014

Chip and Pin Changeover? http://www.techrepu...s-no-longer-secure/
Don't bet on it. [MechE, Aug 04 2014]

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       [+]   

       If they all just decided to make it so you can read the CC then it would be (almost) natural. Machines where the face doesn't face the customer directly, the orientation would be based on the most natural right-handed (sorry lefties) movement for insertion. Alas.
FlyingToaster, Aug 04 2014
  

       I think this solves a problem that doesn't exist. Every ATM, every car-park payment machine, and every point-of-sale card reader I've ever used takes the cards in the same orientation: chip uppermost and furthest from you. You've found machines that are different?
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 04 2014
  

       Very few cards in the U.S. have chips, and of those that do almost none of them are actually visible on the card. Virtually all card processing is done by magnetic stripe, and although there are a few machines that can accept the card in any orientation, most require it to be inserted correctly or they'll respond with a simple “unable to read card” error. It seems that most often the reader requires the card to be face up with the stripe on the right side, but there are a fair number of them that require the stripe on the left (i.e. rotated 180 degrees), and I came across a parking machine this morning that required the card to be *flipped* so the stripe was face up, which threw me for a loop and inspired this idea.
ytk, Aug 04 2014
  

       Ah, right. Well, I'm sure the US will update to chip- n-pin soon, at which point the problem will be solved.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 04 2014
  

       Let me guess, the parking machine also used mag- stripe tickets with the stripe "up". I've run across those recently, and it drives me nuts.   

       Of course we've also got the swipe through vertical on the face of the system, where it is not clear if the stripe should be left or right (I've seen both).   

       [MB] This one is US-centric I think, since I've never seen a European system that did anything unusual in this case, even with mag-stripes (always down and on the right edge for insertion, mag stripe right or down for swiping). Both of these are more common in the US, but not absolute.
MechE, Aug 04 2014
  

       //Let me guess, the parking machine also used mag- stripe tickets with the stripe "up".//   

       Yep, and it's not confusing for the ticket of course, because the tickets all have an arrow on one edge that shows which way to insert them.   

       //I'm sure the US will update to chip- n-pin soon//   

       I dunno, that sounds European, and therefore communist.
ytk, Aug 04 2014
  

       "Chip-and-pin" isn't particularly secure, so I doubt we'll change over any time soon. The next big thing will probably be two channel authentication on smart phones. One encrypted authorization over the cell network and one over the ATM/POS network.
MechE, Aug 04 2014
  

       //"Chip-and-pin" isn't particularly secure// true, but it's generally securer than magnetic stripes (and shedloads safer than signatures). Plus, the same chip infrastructure can implement more secure protocols.   

       Not sure the same can be said of contactless payment.   

       Payment by phone is already the main means of transaction in many African countries, and is also good.   

       Incidentally, what happens when Americans travel to Europe? Do machines here still recognize old magnetic stripe cards?
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 04 2014
  

       Everywhere I've been (Britain, Multiple points in the EU proper, Switzerland and Gibraltar) ATMs will recognize mag-stripe cards, and POS units have a swipe somewhere on them (although in a couple of more rural spots the users haven't realized this).   

       The one place I've had real trouble was with the Swiss Rail vending machines, which absolutely require a PIN, which at least some US banks will allow you to set up (mine originally exists for US Service members [I inherited access from my dad] so it may be a little atypical in this regard).
MechE, Aug 04 2014
  

       //ATMs will recognize mag-stripe cards// Do you still need to use a PIN?
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 04 2014
  

       ATMs in the US use PINs, so no issue there. Obviously there's no internal authentication on the card, but the system accepts it. I'll admit, I've never tried to do a cash advance against my credit card, but I would assume the PIN (that I got specifically to travel in Europe) would allow that as well, but as I said, most USians don't have PINs for their credit card.
MechE, Aug 04 2014
  

       //I said, most USians don't have PINs for their credit card//   

       Instead, authentication is provided by the mandatory ID card system cleverly disguised as a driver's license.   

       Anyway, why not cater for all eventualities, simply put a magnetic strip on the top and bottom of both sides.
bs0u0155, Aug 04 2014
  

       The younger aspiring drinkers do have fake IDs. They don't look like US driver's licenses though. Making/Having one of those would get you in a lot of trouble, and you'd get caught, many bars swipe the licenses so they have to be good fakes physically and electronically.   

       It's perfectly fine, however, to manufacture a VERY convincing copy of a UK driver's license. This is annoying. Because it means no one believed my legitimate UK version.
bs0u0155, Aug 06 2014
  

       There isn't a US standard for IDs (well, the RealID Act, but a lot of states are refusing to comply). For the most part non-compliant states are the ones that had more secure IDs to start with, but the variation means that people can venue shop for fake IDs. That won't always work for card fraud, however, as some situation uses zip code for verification as well.
MechE, Aug 06 2014
  

       There really is a very strong argument for chipping each person at birth. Immigration, alcohol purchases, criminal records, card purchases, corpse identification, medical records, targetted advertising... everything would be immensely simplified. Counterarguments would have to be quite strong.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 06 2014
  

       Not in this country they wouldn't. You don't have anti-vaxers, birthers, and Ted Nugent fans as a significant population base.
RayfordSteele, Aug 07 2014
  
      
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