How to Decode Numbers on a Credit Card

2078Have you ever thought about those numbers on your credit card? This is not just a random set of digits. They contain certain information. Let’s figure out what is hiding behind them.

What about that long number on the front? It is necessary to identify a particular card and provide information about the credit card network and the issuer. Typically, a credit card number consists of 13-19 digits. For example, Visa, Mastercard and Discover card numbers have 16-digit numbers as a rule, while American Express card numbers are 15 digits long. The assignment of these numbers is supervised by the American National Standards Institute and the International Organization for Standardization. So, they are not just casual, each digit is important.

Digit 1 is the Major Industry Identifier. It represents the issuer and their field of activity. These 9 industries include Banking and financial, Travel and entertainment, Airlines and others. Each card network corresponds to a particular digit. Visa card numbers start with 4, Mastercard – with 5, Discover – with 6, and American Express – with 3.
Digits 2–6 together with the first digit compose the Issuer Identification Number. It gives broader information about the credit card company.
Digits 7–18 are the Unique Personal Identifiers. Digits starting from the 7th and ending with the next to last in a card number identify your specific account.
The last digit is a check digit to verify the card number and make sure it is valid.

Besides that, credit cards always display the expiration date and the date of account opening sometimes. These numbers are clear and do not cause questions.

But there is one more number you can find printed on your card – a CVV or CVC. If you shop online or by phone, you are surely acquainted with this three- or four-digit security code. It may be either on the front or on the back of the card. It is required at the final stage of the purchase to protect you from fraud.

All these numbers are common for plastic credit cards. However, issuers are beginning to diverge from the existing template. For example, the design of the new Apple Card eliminates numbers completely.

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