Take a look at your credit card and notice the numbers on it. Do you know what those numbers signify?
This article discusses the meaning of those credit card numbers or what is known as the credit card numbering system or the ANSI Standard X4.13-1983.
The Credit Card Number Series
The numbers on the front side of your credit card is used to identify the type of card you’re using and the company that issued the card. Major issuers each have their own 3 digit codes which are the first three digits of the numbers on the face of a credit card. For instance, if the first three digits start with a 3, it can be a travel card or an entertainment card issued by American Express or Diners Club. VISA’s three digit code start with a 4, Mastercard starts with 5 and Discover credit card starts with a 6.
Different issuers each have their own numbering codes as well. For example, American Express credit cards usually start with the numbers 37. The next third and fourth digits on the number series indicate the type and currency, the fifth to eleventh digits indicate the account number of the card holder, the 12th to 14th indicate the card number within the account and the last digit (15th) indicates a check digit.
VISA cards use a different system for its number series. The first digit always stands for VISA, the 2nd to 6th digits stand for the bank number, the 7th to 12th digits stand for the account numbers and the last one stands for the check digit.
As for Mastercard, the bank number is assigned either with the first two and three, two to four, two to five or two to six digits, depending on the first digit of the series (1, 2, 3, etc.) The account number comes after the bank number and the last digit or the 16th digit stands for the check digit.
Your Cards’ Magnetic Stripe
Do you notice a magnetic stripe at the back of your card? The magnetic stripe or the “magstripe” is the part that is swiped in the credit card reader when you make a purchase. The magnetic stripes contain the unique information of your card.
Credit cardholders must be cautious about the crimes associated with credit card fraud. For instance, “skimming” is a common tactic used by identity thieves to steal credit card information from a person.
Skimming devices are usually very small devices that can be easily hidden in the palm of the hand. Thus, even a waiter can quickly use the skimming device as he/she takes the customer’s credit card to the counter. This is why consumers who are dining out are advised to personal take their credit card to the cashier’s counter and never let their card’s out of their sight.