In this day and age, you can get nearly anything you need online, often delivered to your home in days or even hours. This can be both a blessing and a curse because while anything you need is often at your fingertips, available to be ordered and delivered with just a few clicks, it also means you probably aren't paying cash for the goods you're likely putting them on a credit card or a debit card. This is where using a credit card can become a challenge for some, particularly when it comes to the name the purchase is put under, and entering the wrong name can lead to declined purchases or even security holds.
The name on the credit card is incredibly important when ordering online. It is the name of the cardholder and is printed on or stamped into the card. It may be the full name or a shortened version, but entering the wrong name can mean your potential purchase is declined.
Credit cards and debit cards are incredibly convenient financial tools, and using them can make our lives far easier in some respects while needlessly complicating them in other ways. We're going to take a close look at one of the most important features of a credit card, the cardholder name, and how it can mean the difference between a successful purchase or an error message that can frustrate you and waste valuable time.
Name On Card
The name is a vital part of the information on your credit card or debit card and must be given to a merchant or payment processor when attempting to make a purchase online. The name on your credit card or debit card is going to be printed on or stamped into the material of your card, and getting it right will be just as necessary as getting the card number, expiration date, and security code correct. Failing to enter the proper information for any one of those pieces of secure info can mean the processor declines to accept your payment.
Cardholder Name Meaning
The cardholder name officially means the first name, last name, and middle initial. The cardholder name is something that is highly protected in the cardholder agreements and terms of service for many credit card or debit card providers. This means that in many cases, sharing, exchanging, providing, or selling your cardholder's name can be seen as a similarly criminal offense as doing the same with other confidential credit card or debit card account information like card number, expiration date, or CVV code. It is a vital piece of confidential personal information that can be used to make fraudulent purchases by someone other than the rightful account owner and cardholder.
What Does Name On Card Mean?
When you are making a purchase online and the checkout or finalize payment form asks you for the "name on card," it means you need to enter all of the name information on the credit card or debit card, exactly as it appears on the card. This means if your full name is on the card, but you prefer to go by a shortened version of the name or by a nickname, you still must enter the full name as it appears on the card. The same applies if you've had your name legally changed by have not updated your credit card or debit card or simply haven't received the new card yet; you'll need to enter whatever name is on the card that is still active. Requiring this is a process that helps to protect you against fraud and unauthorized purchases by requiring confidential personal information before the transaction is approved by the payment processor.
Does The Name On The Card Matter?
The name on the card is very important if you plan to use your card for any purchases where you won't be at a formal point of sale, credit card, or debit card terminal in a store. If you are making a purchase online for some groceries, for example, you will need to know the full cardholder name as well as how it's printed on the card, or the purchase could be declined by the payment processor. For in-person purchases, however, you should never need to use the "name on card" feature.
Many people, however, don't go by their full cardholder name or the name on their credit card or debit card. Some banks are now offering the ability to put a name of your choice on a new card. While this doesn't mean you can put a completely made-up or fictitious name on your card, if your name is Stephanie and you'd prefer the card to say "Steph," or if your name is Benjamin, but you go by simply "Ben," you can have your "preferred" name printed on the card instead, potentially saving you some hassle.
What Do I Put When It Asks For Name On Card?
Depending on the site you're shopping from and the particulars of the payment processors they may use, you might see the form requesting the name on the card with varying verbiage. Often, you'll see something simple like "name on card," but it could also be referred to in wordier forms like "enter the cardholder's name as it appears on the card," which is quite helpful and specific, though sometimes checkout and purchase pages don't have enough room for such specificity.
However, most companies will leave it short and simple, just asking for the "name on card." When you see this request, you must provide the name exactly as it's written on the card, even if that is not the name you go by or use a shortened version. Even if the request isn't that specific, it's always a prudent idea to enter it exactly as printed on the card. This is one of many ways that businesses try to fight fraudulent purchases since a fraudster may not know exactly how the name is spelled on the card.
What About My Middle Initial
This is where it can get tricky, and depending on the merchant you're shopping at, you may not get it right the first time because they may not state if the middle initial is required. When it is required, however, there will generally be a small one or two-character field just for the initial or initials. This is more commonly seen in web forms that request a first and last name in their own respective field, and if that is the case, there will also usually be a field for the middle initial. It's important to remember to not enter your middle initial if it is not printed on the card. If there's a field for it, and it's on the card, it's needed, but if there's no field for it, you likely won't see a decline for not putting it in the form.
What's A Cardholder Name?
The cardholder's name is the full first name, middle initial, and last name of the account holder. This is a piece of confidential information that is gathered during the credit card application process or the opening of a new debit account, even if it does not end up being the name listed on the card itself when it's created and subsequently sent to the cardholder. If you have the option of putting in a billing address and a shipping address during an online purchase, the cardholder's name will be needed for the billing address since that is what will be sent with the request for purchase authorization.
Avoiding Entering A Cardholder Name During Checkout
There are a few ways that you can avoid entering the name on the card or cardholder's name during the checkout process, and they all involve storing your payment information with a secure payment service. Some of the most well-known of these payment storage services include Google Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal, and they all function in a relatively similar way.
When you're at a checkout page, if you are visiting the page with Google Chrome, for example, entering new payment information on a web form for the first time will trigger Chrome to ask you if you'd like to store the payment method for future use. From that point on, you'll only need to verify the card security code when making a purchase. Apple Pay operates in much the same way. PayPal allows you to link a credit card or debit card to your PayPal account and simply enter your PayPal-linked email address at checkout to proceed.
Understanding The Name On Your Credit Card & What It Means Is Important
Knowing how the name on your credit card can impact potential purchases and that's why it's important to ensure the right name is entered during the checkout process. Whether you're buying everyday necessities or a large one-time purchase, your payment may be considered invalid or even potentially flagged for fraud if you put in the wrong name or even misspell the right one. Remember, if you store your card information with a payment assistant like Google Pay, PayPal, or Apple Pay, you won't have to remember the right name to enter and can complete your purchases quicker, easier, and with fewer needless declines.
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Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author. He's been featured on Forbes, The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What's Your Story, and more.