What Is a Credit Card SIC Number?

by Tom Streissguth - Updated September 26, 2017

The credit card industry uses the Standard Industry Code (SIC), also known as a merchant code, to identify the type of businesses that are accepting and processing credit charges.

Use

The SIC code allows credit card issuers to compile statistics related to the use of their cards. They can track the performance of various businesses, compare sales and credit card use and better target their marketing efforts. SIC codes also allow banks and other lenders to control the amount and terms of the credit they extend to specific industries.

Numbering

The first two digits of the code identify the general industry of the business, and all companies with the same first digit are operating in the same sector of the economy. In the SIC system, “0” numbers are agricultural, forestry and fishing industries, and “1” numbers are mining and construction. The third digit is used for industry groups and the final digit for the specific industry. A complete list of the current SIC codes can be found at http://www.crfonline.org/surveys/dso/sic.html.

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History

The federal government first created the SIC numbering system in the 1930s. The system helped the government to more accurately track the development of various sectors of the economy and specific businesses within those sectors. The last revision of SIC numbers took place in 1987. Since that time, a new system known as the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) has also come into existence; this six-digit system accounts for newer businesses not covered by the SIC classifications.

Research

SIC numbers allow researchers to use various databases to compare the history and growth of industries. By searching these databases by SIC code, researchers can find sales, tax and employment information. The government and private information companies find the SIC code handy for compiling useful data. Businesses owners select the SIC code that is proper for their enterprise and must report that number to credit-card companies that process their transactions as well as government agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service.

Merchants

Most businesses selling to the general public accept credit cards as payment for their goods and services. The paperwork they file to open a processing account with Visa, MasterCard and other issuers must include a SIC number, which is useful to the card company as a marketing tool. Merchants who accept credit cards can find their appropriate SIC code online or in manuals published by VISA and other issuers.

About the Author

Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.

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