The Mystery Behind Your Credit Card Number

Credit cards or debit cards are those magical payment cards used by everyone on a daily basis. While making the payment, either the card readers are involved or account detail is needed to be entered. In this whole process of buying and paying, one thing we never focus on is the information stored inside the credit numbers. Neither we try unveiling what is there inside these numbers nor we ever think about exploring the magnetic stripe given on the back of the card. Giving this common habit a break, let’s break the science involved behind these interesting questions.


Credit Card Numbers: What they signify?

Majority of the credit cards are dependent on the system known as ANSI Standard X4.13-1983. Be it any credit card number, it tells the complete story of the card. This includes:

  • Who issued the card
  • The type of account, etc.

Let’s explore more by learning the technique of decoding credit card numbers.
Suppose a credit card number is 4xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
The first digit, i.e. ‘4’ denotes the system used

First Digit and the System Used

3: travel/entertainment cards
Here, second number can be used to identify different users. For example: American Express (37), Diners Club (38)

4: Visa

5: MasterCard

6: Discover Card

If we go as per the above information, it is quite clear that the sample card explained here is ‘Visa’. But what about the remaining digits? What all can be predicted from them? Well, this information is known as structure and concluded by the system being used.

Card Structure for Major Credit Card Issuers

American Express

Digits 3 and 4: represent type and currency
Digits 5 through 11: represent the account number
Digits 12 through 14: represents the card number in the account
Digit 15: is the check digit


Digits two and three, two through four, two through five, or two through six: make up the bank number (depending on whether digit two is a 1, 2, 3 or other)
Digits after the bank number, up through digit 15: represent the account number
Digit 16: is the check digit


Digits two through six: make up the bank number
Digits seven through 12 or seven through 15 (in some cases): represent the account number
Digit 13 or 16: is the check digit

In the below given example,
lets card number is 4xxxxxyyyyyyzzzz
then ‘xxxxx’ represents the bank number, ‘yyyyyy’ represents the account number and ‘zzzz’ represents the check digits.

What’s there inside the ‘Magnetic Stripe’?

Determining the elements of magnetic stripe is interesting in itself. Here, three tracks are there in the magnetic stripe. However, out of the three only two are used while processing the information. It is useful to know that smart card chip technology will replace this system.
With all these information about what’s there inside your credit card and what the numbers displayed on it signify, use your credit card wisely and more responsibly.

Read more: The 5 Most Common Myths Related To Credit Card Processors


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s