Visa claims teen spent $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 on prepaid credit card

Visa recorded a $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 purchase on Consumerist reader Dale's kid's prepaid Visa Buxx card: "My lectures about financial responsibility appear to have failed: yesterday she charged $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 at the drug store. That's 2,000 times more than the national debt, which is a paltry 11 trillion. The ever-vigilant folks at VISA added a $20 'negative balance fee,' and have suspended the card."

Unruly Teen Charges $23 Quadrillion At Drugstore


  1. A) I don’t think I would be inclined to pay the 20$ fee.


    B) How else are kids going to learn about bankruptcy?

  2. Maybe the cashier typed the card number into the machine manually, in the section where the charge was supposed to be?

    2314 8855 3081 8450 with a couple extra 0’s on the end? Maybe someone just posted this kid’s card number on the internet?

  3. I just called my broker and told him to by shares in CVS Caremark. After the market digests the news about this, I’m thinking about buying the nation of Iceland. I hear they have a good infrastructure, and some debt problems.

  4. Whatever she bought should be immediately returned to CVS for a full refund! If CVS can charge the card for that amount they should honor the refund to the extent the corporation has available cash, stock, or other assets.

  5. That’ll teach her to laugh at that computer geek from school when he asked her to the dance.

  6. lolbufferoverflow. It’s nice to see there’s proper validation of input on from CVS to VISA…

  7. This is one of those ‘computer has processor fart and converts simple number to hexadecimal machine code’ things isn’t it?

  8. oh well, its good to know that the credit processing system wont fail in the event of huge inflation where a quadrillion dollars would buy you a tooth paste.

  9. @5

    When was BB ever a news site?

    Stories like this are just some fluff to lighten the day. Gawd bless ’em.

  10. Is the number her Visa card number, or does it contain part of it? Maybe the teller entered the numbers twice by mistake. And if my guess is correct… you should see about getting a new card.

  11. I’m surprised the field in their DB to store that value was large enough to hold that number. No data integrity constraints for Visa I guess.

  12. #18
    all i meant was that these are headlines in tabloids all the time.
    maybe you have been lucky enough to avoid them?

  13. There’s a pattern here, looks like corruption in the high bits. If you take the number in cents 2314885530818450000 and convert to hex;


    Or binary:


    A pretty pattern, yes? Chop off the leading pattern and you’re left with binary 1001010000 which is 952 decimal, or $9.52.

    Adjust for taxes, lasyweb: What did she buy?

  14. I’ll bet VISA won’t back down on the charges at first.

    Also, they don’t have tellers behind the counter at CVS, they have teenagers.

  15. I’m also confused by the fact that it’s listed under “Posted” transactions. Shouldn’t it have been declined? Wouldn’t it have been declined?

  16. @19&20:
    Given that information, it could be a charge of $2.31 with the 16-digit card number punched in after it. Except I’ve never seen a teller at a CVS type in the number. Hell, they wouldn’t even swipe the card for me at the register when the customer keypad was broken, she just sent me to a different register.

  17. Ok. WEIRD.

    Don’t look at this as dollars. Look at it as pennies.


    entered as


    convert to hex



    0x20 is the code for SPACE.

    I’m guessing is is really supposed to be



    1250 in hex, 4688 in decimal …

    meaning $46.88.

  18. @22 All the tabloids seem to be is hysterics and vulgarities over celebrities and demi celebrities.

    Things like this never make it in, much less get commented on and solved (such as happens here in Boing Boing).

  19. So it’s been established that the 64 bit integer has ASCII spaces in the leftmost bytes.

    How on earth could this happen ONCE? Data conversions are generally done under computer control, and computers usually work on more than one data item at a time.

    Shouldn’t this produce a lot of news, instead of only one instance?

    Of course, the kid has a Consumerist parent, so this may be the only parent intelligent enough to notice what’s going on with a prepaid card balance.

  20. @#19 Assuming that the “4” at the beginning got truncated by the POS software and that 4 0s were appended to the number for some reason, the resulting 16 digit number does pass the Luhn Algorithm Test for valid credit card numbers.

    That said, I like the 0x20 spaces theory better.

  21. Ok, SUPERWEIRD!!!

    Take the number. Convert it to random keys on my keyboard.


    now, take those letters, and replace them with these:


    OMG. She bought a FACE!!! It makes sense, they’re expensive!

  22. How is it that buying $200 of stuff from CircuitCity or Dell gets my credit card flagged for fraud, causing my card to be denied until I call the fraud department, but a 23 quadrillion dollar charge at CVS goes through okay? Honestly, with the fees that Visa charges credit card processors, they could afford an algorithm that does something like:


  23. 23148855308184500
    when you’re deliberatin’ and conjugatin’ the emancipation proclamation, does it make sense?

  24. Personally I am proud of the programmers at Visa. Anyone else would have cut corners and used a data-type limited to a four hundred billion dollars because ‘no one would ever spend more than ten billion’.

    Famous last words, as always…

  25. The numbers are negative


    CVS data feed to Visa corrupt? I bet this isn’t the only crazy CVS purchase on a Visa committed on that day…

    Card suspensions pending investigation by Visa drones ensue. It will be all sorted out in one business day. Move along…

  26. @31;


    is indeed a pretty pattern, but first, it should be a multiple of eight, and then split up. We need to add two zeros at the front…


    Looked at this way, it’s hard to justify anything other than dropping the leading “00100000”s.

    So, we are left with 0001001001010000 == 4688.

    Incidentally, prefilling a “zeroed” field with blanks instead of nulls is possible if you screw up COBOL datatypes in certain ways.

  27. This was a major glitch for Visa Buxx. My son’s Visa Buxx card was charged for the exact same amount — $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 — for his dinner at Applebees. When I called to complain, the tired-sounding customer service rep interrupted me: “You calling about the 23 trillion dollar charge?” “Actually,” I said, “it’s 23 quadrillion. I looked it up.”

    I think it’s likely that thousands of unlucky kids got their cards suspended until the folks at Visa Buxx figured this out. Though they still haven’t reversed the $20 overdraft fee.

  28. Good thing it was CVS and not a US telco. Telcos get to keep any money they “accidentally” overdraw from your account, and credit it towards future billings. I know two people who got bankrupted because AT&T cleaned out their entire life’s savings.

    Corpratocracy at work… don’t get any on ya!

  29. Get the cash advance, and you wouldn’t need to run from the police; you’d OWN them. And most of the United States, too.

    It’s not in Visa’s favour to decline cards on overages: Then they can’t confiscate the remaining balance and demand processing fees on the transaction.

    They probably ought to be required to decline such overages – by law.

    Call your congresspeople!

  30. Granting a $23 Quadrillion credit limit to a teenager? No wonder the lenders are in so much financial trouble these days.

  31. Shouldn’t it have been declined? Wouldn’t it have been declined?

    The amount was too big to fail.

  32. With pharmacy costs like these, Americans are still scared of single payer healthcare?? :-P

  33. Hey guys, this is was not a mistake. Just a bit premature. But at least they are prepared.

  34. Wow. That’s almost 400 times the entire world’s GDP for 2008 ($60,115,459,000,000).

  35. WOW – that’s over $200 (US) worth of Zimbabwe money!! Pay the bill with Zimbabwe 100 Trillion dollar bills, OR just wait a bit, until the US dollar declines to the same level.

  36. Wells Fargo programmers messing with Wachovia code in an effort to integrate systems???

  37. This is the perfect time to charge $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 at CVS and get away with not paying it!!!

  38. @71 Anonymous

    So I read that article, and it turns out it’s a different person than the one in this post. One has the last name Hawkins, one has the last name Muszynski.


    -Oops, never mind. From the Economist
    “The issue was with VISA, not with CVS. Apparently lots of VISA debit card users were affected by it, at several different merchants. Each victim was charged exactly $23,148,855,308,184,500.00.”

    Hahaha…dang. No conspiracy theories this time. =P

  39. Okay, I laughed when I read the article…

    But I was rolling on the floor and holding my stomach trying to breathe when I read the comments.

    You guys have made my day.

  40. I actually wet my pants at work reading the comments!! We should make a weekly magazine with colums from these posters! WE would make BILLIONS!!

  41. I bet the card number is probably the trailing 16 digits:


    And the charge amount was the leading three digits


    Probably a GREAT idea to get a new card.

    Fuzzy Bones

  42. you might have caused the recession spending more than a third more than the planet’s economy on drugs

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