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No dashes or spaces logo Though I have a tolerably good handle on e-commerce software, I've not written much of it myself. In this respect, I'm not one to know what's going on under the hood at any given site: maybe there is a reason why something works the odd way it does.

But I've observed one technique that has been nearly universal: the practice of refusing to allow spaces or dashes in credit card number entry fields (this example from The Teaching Company):

NDOS logo

Credit card numbers are always printed and read aloud in groups of (usually) four digits, and when verifying a number after entry (which involves looking back and forth between the card and the web form) one uses the spacing to resynchronize.

If there were some security or integrity reason for disallowing these characters, I guess I'd buy it, but I've not found a single good reason for it. The consensus among those that I've spoken to is that it's nothing but lazy, sloppy programming. I completely agree.

It turns out that sometimes one can clean up the spaces and dashes in the same amount of code as the instruction not to (this example in perl):

$ccnum =~ s/[-\s]//g;  # (No dashes or spaces)

Credit card validation should never be done exclusively on the client side, and since the server does it anyway, I just can't find any good reason for this sloppy practice. Those who believe otherwise are very much encouraged to contact me with the reasoning.

Some sites cleverly avoid the "no spaces or dashes" shame by limiting the credit card entry to 16 characters: this has the same effect. It's just lame.

The shameful

This is the list of websites we've been collecting since mid-2003, and new entries are added at the top. We invite submissions from others, though only those which can be verified will be added. Likewise, those who've cleaned up their acts will be noted here as well.

The Guilty Party The Evidence
Sendgrid
When entering a space in the credit card number, the next page shows this error message with no clue as to the reason. — added 2014/06/26
Sendgrid - Shameful!
Soylent
Shopping cart (apparently hosted by Shopify.com) gets really fancy with interactive Javascript, but balks at spaces in the card number. Very sad. — added 2014/05/07
Soylent - Shameful!
Microsoft Store
The web form automatically selects "Visa" or "Mastercard" based on the first digits, but it can't deal with spaces or dashes? Really? — added 2013/05/25
Microsoft - Shameful!
GameChanger
Remove the spaces and it drops the fancy error popup
— added 2013/02/02
GameChanger - Shameful!
ARIN (American Registry for Internet Numbers)
No warning until you try it, then an error message
— added 2013/01/16
ARIN - Shameful!
C. Crane Radios
Explicit restriction: "no spaces or dashes"
— added 2012/12/27
C. Crane - Shameful!
Escort Radar
Explicit restriction: "no spaces or dashes"
— added 2012/12/21
Escort Radar - Shameful!
4PatientCare
10-char limit for a phone number, which means no dashes or spaces.
— added 2012/08/11
4PatientCare - Shameful!
Wind Mobile
16-char limit in a field that's much larger.
Oddly, the field for phone number does fancy formatting automatically.
— added 2011/05/11
Wind Mobile - Shameful!
Experts-Exchange.com
16-char limit in a field that's much larger
— added 2011/03/10
Experts-Exchange - Shameful!
Digi-Key.com
Explicitly forbids dashes; 16-char limit
— added 2010/12/12
Digi-Key - Shameful!
VirtualizationWorks.com
Forbids spaces; probably dashes too
— added 2010/05/13
VirtualizationWorks - Shameful!
CDW
It hates spaces
— added 2010/05/13
CDW - Shameful!
VMware
Explicit restriction on dashes or spaces
— added 2010/05/10
VMware - Shameful!
MyFICO
16-character limit = "no dashes or spaces"
— added 2010/05/01; reconfirmed 2012/02/25
MyFICO - Shameful!
Constant Contact
First one for 2010!
— added 2010/04/07
Constant Contact - Shameful!
Best Buy
— added 2009/12/05
Best Buy - Shameful!
Costco
— added 2009/10/23
Costco - Shameful!
Uniblue Systems
Windows system utilities
(Store by cleverbridge) — added 2009/07/26
Uniblue Systems- Shameful!
Day-Timer
Excellent planners and day-books
(But at least the credit card field accepts spaces...)
— added 2009/04/11
Day-Timer - Shameful!
Chevron/Texaco Gas Card
Entering a payment date requires a two-digit month and day; 3/11/2009 fails validation. This is the second entry for Chevron; a more traditional no-dashes-or-spaces entry is below.
— added 2009/03/10
Chevron/Texaco - shameful!
Bank-A-Count.com
Rubber stamps, checks, and other financial products
— added 2009/02/05
Fixed 2009/04/02 - Thanks Tim!
Bank-A-Count - Shameful!
iSystems, LLC
Employee Self-Service Payroll application.
— added 2009/01/26 (Thanks Mikey!)
iSystems - shameful!
PartStore.com
16-char limit is the same is no-dashes-or-spaces.
— added 2008/05/24
Partstore.com - shameful!
AT&T Universal Card
Password recovery (this is run by Citibank)
— added 2008/04/21
AT&T - shameful!
Christopher Dodd for President
Donation checkout
— added 2007/10/20
ChrisDodd.com- shameful!
Bulbs.com
Shopping-cart checkout.
— added 2007/08/27
Bulbs.com- shameful!
California DMV
Online auto registration renewal.
— added 2007/06/14, reconfirmed 2012/02/24
— added 2012/07/23 for the driver's license renewal
California DMV - shameful!
DigiBuy
Online payment services - you'd think these guys could figure this problem out.
— added 2007/05/12
Digibuy - shameful!
Nolo Press
16-character limit = "no spaces or dashes"
— added 2007/02/18
Fixed sometime in 2007 - Thanks Michael!
Nolo Press- shameful!
Consumer Reports
16-character limit = "no spaces or dashes"
— added 2007/02/18
Consumer Reports - shameful!
CRG Events
registration services for the Microsoft MVP Summit
— added 2007/01/04
CRG Events- shameful!
GEICO Insurance
Account/policy numbers count too
— added 2006/12/29
GEICO - shameful!
UltraEdit / IDM Computer Solutions
C'mon, Ian, you're a programmer!
— added 2006/11/18
UltraEdit - shameful!
Chevron/Texaco Gas Card
— added 2006/10/29
Chevron/Texaco - shameful!
LogMeIn Rescue
Not quite sure what to make of this: a popup that says no dashes spaces, but it removes them automatically and lets us continue without having to retype everything. This seems unnecessary — why not just remove them automatically after submission — but at least they're trying to be helpful.
— added 2006/09/29
LogMeInRescue - shameful?
Victor Valley Water District
Pay your water bill online
— added 2006/08/17
(Thanks Brad!)
Victor Valley Water District: Shameful!
California Secretary of State Business Filings
Used to accept fees for corporate filing.
— added 2006/08/11
California Secretary of State: Shameful!
uBid.com
A 16-digit limit is the same as no-dashes-or-spaces; this shameful behavior is found in both the initial profile creation, and bid-now pages.
— added 2006/06/07
uBid: Shameful!
Fedex (updating an online shipping profile)
— added 2006/06/07
FedEx: Shameful!
Verified by Visa
— added 2006/04/28
Verified by Visa: Shameful!
Authorize.net
(via American Mensa)
— added 2006/03/27
Confirmed 2013/01/14
Authorize.net: Shameful!
Microsoft's Partner Program
16-character limit = "no spaces or dashes"
— added 2005/09/04
Microsoft: Shameful!
ChiefValue.com
— added 2005/06/02 (thanks badmagicnumber)
ChiefValue: Shameful!
SBC Online
— added 2005/04/03
SBC: Shameful!
Verizon Wireless Online
"No spaces allowed"
— added 2005/04/03
Re-confirmed: 2007/04/16
Verizon: Shameful!
Western Digital
Not only do they forbid spaces in a credit card number, but also require phone number entry without any punctuation. Lame!
— added 2005/04/03
Western Digital: Shameful!
Hepatech.net
— added 2005/03/04
HepaTech: Shameful!
ITC Fonts
The field has plenty of room, but fails with spaces.
— added 2005/01/19
First entry for 2005!
ITC: Shameful!
Harry & David
The field has room for plenty of characters, but it fails unless the spaces are removed.
— added 2004/12/15
Confirmed 2005/11/06
Confirmed 2006/11/05
Harry&David: Shameful!
Updated November 2005 to include:
Still don't get it
Audible.com @BRThe field has room for plenty of characters, but it fails unless the spaces are removed.
— added 2004/09/13
Audible.com: Shameful!
Walgreen's
The field has room for plenty of characters, but it fails unless the spaces are removed.
— added 2004/08/19
Walgreens: Shameful!
Apple Store
16-character limit is the same as "no spaces or dashes"
— added 2004/08/13
Apple: Shameful!
Cheryl & Co
They make great mailorder cookies, but this silly popup took more to code than it would have been to just ignore the spaces or dashes. And the code that does checksum validation on the credit card number itself explicitly ignores non-digits anyway! Very lame.
— added 2004/08/06
Cheryl & Co.: Shameful!
VisualThesaurus.com
— added 2004/08/02
confirmed 2007/03/05
confirmed 2010/12/16 (different form, same behavior)
VisualThesaurus: Shameful!
Kintera.org
They handle online donations for things like the MS Walk-A-Thon
— added 2004/04/27
Kintera: Shameful!
eCompanyStore.com

— added 2004/04/22
eCompanyStore: Shameful!
Cowan Alexander (auctioneer)
Not only do they limit the input to 16 characters, they don't even accept the card for payment!
— added 2004/04/04
CowanAlexander: Shameful!
Microsoft's Security CD offer
Phone numbers without dashes! Ack!
— added 2004/02/18 (thanks cinnamon)
Microsoft: Shameful!
TurboTax Software
Not allowing dollar signs or commas in money is not that big of an infraction as it is for credit card numbers and formatting, because we're accustomed to doing without, but it's not that hard to get right.
— added 2004/02/16 (thanks Jeffrey)
Intuit/TurboTax: Shameful!
Vanguard Group
The same logic applies to Social Security Account Numbers as it does to credit card numbers.
— added 2004/02/09 (thanks Jeffrey)
Vanguard: Shameful!
Quicken 2003 Software
There is a field that allows plenty of room for spaces or dashes, but when trying to do an "online banking update" with First USA bank, it fails with an error code that is not elaborated on. It took a 20 minute phone call with First USA support - three different techs - before the guy asked if I had spaces or dashes in the field. AARGH.

I don't know if this is a Quicken issue or a First USA one. AARGH.
— added 2004/02/06

Intuit/Quicken: Shameful!
IEEE
16-character limit - evidence that hardware guys can't do software
— added 2004/01/29 (thanks cinnamon)
IEEE: Shameful!
Staples
— added 2003/12/26
(thanks Techie2000)
Staples: Shameful!
Citi Cards online
Even a credit card company hasn't figured out credit cards!
— added 2003/12/01
Still broken 09/2005!
Citibank: Shameful!
Regsoft
Only allowing 16-character input is the same as "no spaces or dashes"
— added 2003/09/12
— reconfirmed 2005/03/18
RegSoft: Shameful!
Network Solutions
Only allowing 16-character input is the same as "no spaces or dashes"
— added 2003/09/10
Network Solutions: Shameful!
Google Gear

— added 2003/09/06
(thanks Scott)
GoogleGear: Shameful!
PalmOne.com

— added 2003/08/31 (thanks Techie2000)
Fixed: (as of Feb 2005) - Since Palm merged with Handspring, they have combined into PalmOne.com, and the store here do the right things with credit card numbers now.
Palm: Shameful!
Fonts.com

— added 2003/07/08
Fonts.com: Shameful!
Adobe.com
Only allowing 16-character input is the same as "no spaces or dashes"
— added 2003/06/16
Adobe: Shameful!
Tickets.com
They not only limit the credit card field to 16 characters, but allow no formatting in the phone number. Lame.
— added 2003/06/18
Tickets.com: Shameful!
Draper's & Damon's
— added 2003/06/13
Drapers.com: Shameful!
The Teaching Company
— added 2003/06/13
Fixed! - as of June 2004
Teaching Company: Shameful!
Bluemountain.com
— added 2003/06/13
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