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9 crazy credit facts to wow your friends

Erica Sandberg
9 weird facts about credit cards

Want to amuse and astound your friends? These funny and peculiar facts about credit cards, credit reports and credit scores may wow your friends.

1. Credit cards are rectangle because the world is round.
You may have wondered why there aren’t circular or square cards – or even star-shaped ones. The reason is rooted in practicality. One standard shape and size (3.370 × 2.125 inches, with rounded corners) means you can swipe them anywhere on the globe.

2. The worst country for credit card fraud is … Mexico.
According to an ACI Worldwide Universal Payments and Aite Group 2016 survey of 20 countries, 51 percent of Mexico’s citizens say they’ve been a victim of credit card fraud in the past five years. Brazil and the United States (46 percent) are tied for second, and Australia (37 percent) is third. By the way, card fraud is rising in each of those countries – in the 2014 survey the U.S. card fraud rate was 37 percent.

3. The first digit of your credit card number is a clue.
Here’s a by-the-numbers look at that first digit: If your card’s account number begins with a 1, it is an airline card, 2 designates airline and other industry assignments, 3 is usually an American Express card, 4 designates a Visa, 5 a Mastercard, 6 a Discover Card, and 7 is the code for a gas card.

4. The higher your credit score, the more successful your love life.
Statistically speaking, that is. A Federal Reserve paper revealed the key to lasting love is your credit score. For this reason, you may want to ask to see a prospective mate’s credit score when you’re ready to get serious. And if you are a mismatch? You might hear something like this: “It’s not you, it’s your credit score.”

5. A card that smells divine.
While credit cards must be of uniform size and shape, some plastic stands out with a fascinating feature: fragrance. The Abu Dhabi-based Al Hilal Bank offers the Laha Card, which comes with a built-in “applet” that absorbs the scent of any perfume. Just try to tell me that’s not fantastic. Laha isn’t the first card with a bouquet: Cards with aromas – were a thing a few years ago.

6. Credit education predated the credit card.
The information and warnings in a 1950s film on “The wise use of credit” – credit cards didn’t arrive on the scene until a decade later – are as relevant today as they were when Truman was president. For instance, don’t take out credit if you have no means to pay it back.

7. Women beat men in the credit scoring game.
Overall, women are edging men in the battle of credit smarts, a 2015 Experian study found. The average credit score for women was 675, a full five points higher than the 670 average score for men. Men are even losing ground. In a 2013 Experian study, the average credit scores for women versus men were 675 and 674, respectively.

8. The record for most number of active credit cards per person is 1,497.
The Guinness Book of World records recognizes Walter Cavanagh of Santa Clara, California, as having the most number of valid credit cards. Combined, his credit lines are worth more than $1.7 million. Even better, he keeps them in a 250-foot wallet.

9. Modern credit card interest laws are ancient in origin.
In 1800 B.C., Hammurabi, king of the first dynasty of Babylon, set the maximum interest rate a lender could lawfully charge borrowers: usually 20 percent but that could go up to 25 percent. Check your credit card statement. That average credit card APR of 15.51 percent, according to CreditCards.com’s Weekly Rate Report for March 15, 2017, might seem like a bargain compared to Hammurabi’s code.

Have a fascinating factoid about credit to share? Drop me a line here to let me and everyone else know.

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