What do the numbers on the credit card mean?

credit card security

The numbers on the credit cards are not random, each group of them has a particular meaning. If you want to know what the numbers on the credit card mean, be sure to read this article.

The numbering of credit cards, and other similar instruments, are governed by the ISO / IEC 7812 standard. This specifies the meaning of each group of the positions of the credit card numbers. It should be noted that there is no standardized number of digits, and these vary between 15 and 19, with the most used amount being 16.

Next, it will be specified what each group of positions of this numbering means.


Issuer Identification Number

atm pin

It corresponds to the first six digits of the card number, of which the first identifies the main industry. The banking and financial industries start with the number 4 or 5, and those of travel and entertainment with 3. This group of numbers indicates the type of card, the type of issuer and the geographical area. The main circulating credit cards in our country can be identified by their initial number:

  • 3 for American Express
  • 4 for Visa
  • 5 for MasterCard

In the case of Mastercard, the second, together with the third, fourth or fifth, represents the number of the financial institution. In the case of Visa, numbers 2 to 6 are used to identify the financial institution.


Internal code of the banking entity

credit number

The remaining numbers, except the last one, are the numbers that the bank uses to identify its customers. For security reasons, the way in which this numbering is assigned remains secret.


Control digit

Control digit

On Visa and Mastercard cards, the last position is reserved for the check digit. This is a number that satisfies Luhn’s algorithm and allows to identify if the number of a card is valid.

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