Do not know what the numbers on a credit or debit card mean? Here we will explain what is each card number and its meaning, both on the front of the bank card and on the back
December 14, 2018 by Manuel Gimeno
- 1 Numbers on the front of the card
- 1.1 PAN or card number
- 1.1.1 First digit
- 1.1.2 The first seven digits
- 1.1.3 The remaining digits (with the exception of the last one)
- 1.1.4 The last digit, the control digit
- 1.2 Expiration date
- 2 Numbers on the back of the card
- 2.1 CVV, CVV2 or security number
- 3 What is the difference between the card number (PAN) and the account number and the IBAN?
Credit cards and debit cards offer very important information on both their front and back sides. However, many people do not know exactly what the numbers on a bank card mean . Like everything in this life, each number, each exposed data, has a logical explanation and a necessary function, and in this text we will explain in detail the meaning of everything that appears on any bank card .
All that will be explained next is part of the numbering of the bank cards that were established in 1989 under the ISO / IEC 7812 standard (ISO / IEC 7812-1: 2006 currently in force) by the International Organization of the Normalization (ISO). The objective was to create a numbering system for the identification of the issuer of the card, for the identification of the card itself (Issuer Identification Number) and to collect the data of the cardholder.
Front numbers of the card
PAN or card number
If we take a look at any of our credit or debit cards, we will see that on the front of it there is a very long number formed, generally, by 16 digits , in addition to the name of the holder, the name of the entity, the chip of the card, the international brand and the expiration date. This number is the PAN or card number, which in American Express have 15 digits, in Diners Club it has between 14 and 15 and in most other entities 16, up to a maximum of 19 digits. These numbers, as we have pointed out above, have not been put to chance , but rather respond to ISO / IEC 7812-1: 2016.
These card numbers have a meaning and a function depending on their position. Next, we will analyze each of them:
The first number of the card has the function of identifying the sector to which the issuer of the bank card corresponds . In this way, from a simple glance you can know if the card has an issuer to a bank, an oil company or an airline, among many other options:
This is the ratio of numbers and types of issuer of the cards to the first digit:
- 0 : ISO / TC 68.
- 1 : Airlines.
- 2 : Airlines, financial companies and other future assignments of the industry.
- 3 : Travel and entertainment (American Express).
- 4 : Visa.
- 5 : Mastercard.
- 6 : Discovery Card.
- 7 : Oil companies and other future industry allocations.
- 8 : Health, telecommunications and other future assignments of the industry.
- 9 : Number reserved for the use of the country where the card operates.
The first seven digits
After the first digit described above, the following six constitute the identification number of the bank card . Next to the first digit, these seven numbers allow to establish the type of card, the type of issuer and the geographical place where the card has been issued . For security, both the number ranges of issuers and countries are totally private. All these numbers are what is known as INN (Issuer Identification Number).
The remaining digits (with the exception of the last one)
Once the first seven numbers of the card are left behind, the following refer to the information of the bank card holder . These numbers are an internal code that the bank assigns to the card of each of its clients based on its own way of carrying out the numbering. For this reason, the way in which financial entities carry out the numbering is totally private.
The last digit, the control digit
We leave the last digit for the end, which has a special function. This number is responsible for confirming that the rest of the numbers on the card are correct , and can do so thanks to Luhn’s algorithm . This algorithm is able to algebraically relate the rest of the digits to produce the so-called control digit. Generally, the check digit is in the last position of the card number.
Date of Expiry
The expiration date is just below the PAN or card number, and its purpose is to indicate to the user the date until which the credit card is valid . These digits, which indicate the month and year until the end of validity, are usually requested for purchases made over the Internet, as an extra security measure to confirm that the user who makes the purchase also has the card in his possession.
Numbers on the back of the card
But any bank card offers more information on the back of the card. In the back, in addition to the magnetic stripe (if there is one, as it is becoming less common) and the signature panel where the cardholder must sign, there is the CVV or CVV2, the security number that we now turn to detail:
CVV, CVV2 or security number
CVV stands for Card Verification Value , and is a number that consists of three digits that appear on the back of the bank card. This number supposes an extra barrier of security , since it is usually asked when carrying out the online purchases to verify that the buyer has the card in his possession.
Unlike the PAN or card number, the CVV is set randomly, and changes each time the card is replaced (even if the PAN does not change). Having no relief, it is even more difficult to clone this set of three numbers. If you want to know everything about the CVV, you can discover all its features and function in the following link .
What is the difference between the card number (PAN) and the account number and the IBAN?
It is important to note this difference because many people confuse the card number (PAN) with the bank account number (IBAN). These two sets of numbers are totally different , both in the way in which the information of the digits is organized, and even in the number of digits that compose them.
Even though the PAN or card number is linked to an account, they are not the same number. The account number has 20 digits that have the following meaning:
- The first 4 numbers : These digits let you know to which entity the bank account belongs.
- The following 4 numbers : These digits are responsible for identifying the office in which the bank account was contracted.
- The following two numbers : These are control digits, with a function exactly equal to the last digit of the bank card. These two digits confirm that the rest of the numbers are correct.
- The last 10 numbers : They are responsible for identifying the owner of the account and identifying the bank account itself.