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Marketing and Branding Blog | SilkCards

The Complete Rundown of Plastic Card Thickness and Size

[fa icon="calendar"] Aug 8, 2016 11:30:00 AM / by Brielle Yang

Brielle Yang

beautiful plastic membership cards

Have you ever wondered why your credit card is shaped the way it is? Or why it’s so thin? There are standards that determine your card's look, feel, and thickness. Without them, no one would be able to transact business.

As a business owner, you may be wondering about plastic card thicknesses so that you can implement a rewards program or gift card campaign. So get out your wallet and take a gander at the array of cards you have in there. Are some thicker than others? Are they all the same size? Think about your driver's license, debit card, credit cards, and gift cards as you read this article.

Related: Designing a Gift Card Program That Works

Dimensions of a Credit Card

There are actually international standards for the size of credit cards. If we didn't have any, can you imagine how difficult it would be to manage all those cards in your wallet? You'd have ID cards fitting in sideways and credit cards getting lost in their slots. No, that just wouldn't do.

Instead, the International Organization for Standardization has developed four different standard sizes for identification cards. They each have names: ID-000, ID-1, ID-2, and ID-3. The standard for credit cards is ID-1, a size that is also commonly referred to as CR80. A standard CR80 credit card has the following dimensions:

  • width of 3.37 inches (85.6 mm)
  • height of 2.125 (53.98 mm)

This means that any card you obtain for standard business transactions—anything from credit or debit purchases to gift card use—is about 3.5 inches by 2 inches.

How Thick Is a Credit Card in Mil?

Now that you know what size your wallet slots are, does it have you wondering how thick they need to be? The standard thickness for an ID-1 or CR80 credit card is 0.03 inches, or 0.76 millimeters. Mil, often confused with the millimeter, is actually equal to one thousandth of an inch. This makes a credit card 30 mil thick.

Plastic card printing companies will even make cards thinner than this; 30 mil is actually a durable thickness for plastic cards. Which makes sense because credit cards take a lot of abuse with all those credit card machines they slide through.

example of plastic card with mag strip

In fact, did you know that the magnetic strip, or mag strip, on the back of a card partly determines this standard size? If your card needs to be run through a machine, it needs to match the size that machine is made for. This means that most money-based cards need the standard CR80 size (gift cards and credit/debit cards).

Related: Complete Guide to Gift Cards for Small Businesses

Other Thicknesses

Even though money-based cards need to remain the same thickness for credit card machines, other types of cards can be thinner or thicker based on use. For example, a card that feels more flexible is most likely set at a thickness of 20-24 mil. There are even thinner cards on the market, around 10-15 mil, and they can feel almost as thin as paper. And don't forget cards that are thicker than .76 mm—cards used for parking garages and getting into buildings are made to be more inflexible than credit cards.

How Thick Do You Need Your Cards to Be?

If you're a small business owner developing a gift card program, you definitely should have these considerations in mind. At 4ColorPrint, we can help you through the process of getting these cards made.

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Topics: Business Gift Cards

Brielle Yang

Written by Brielle Yang

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