Business & Finance / How Many Numbers Are On A Credit Card

How Many Numbers Are On A Credit Card

It doesn’t matter what is the credit card you put into your wallet (or even the variety of cards if you use them for various purchases), all of them have physical characteristics among the U.S. consumers. The common features include the size and the type of a number in the front.

Credit cards have got a similar size to each other because due to an organization called the ISO or International Organization for Standardization, which is the international representatives’ standard-setting body and it produces global industrial and commercial standards. It establishes standard size for credit cards and determines every card to make sure if it standard is ideal for a use.

The ISO remains the reason the credit cards are produced of PVC and has generally the same board, which is convenient for easier recognition and processing. It ensures your credit card remains standardized.

So, how many numbers are on a credit card?

Credit card number is the most important part of the information printed on credit card.

The first digit indicates the type of card. For example, digit 3 is American Express, number 4 is VISA and 5 is MasterCard. This is also one of the first lines of defense against fraud - if in the randomly generated card number the first figure does not match the type of card, it will signal that the card is a fake. But of course, do not expect that the cardholders are not so prepared, so that information about the first digit is just to make a note.

You can also find how many numbers are on a credit card with the help of ID of the bank, for what a second, third and fourth digits are responsible for. Since the amount of a three-digit number is 999, it is clearly that it is much less than the sum of all banks, emitting credit for example in the VISA. Hence, the number of the bank is the result of a generation, so with some frequency this number can be the same as in different banks. However, the possibility that the bank's name will come to a randomly generated number is extremely small (one to one thousand), so those three cherished numbers can serve as a defense against not too advanced hackers. Sometimes the first six digits are called BIN, the so-called bank identifier. In this case 6 - 4 = 2, which means the part of the account number is the additional identification of the bank.

The seventh and eighth digits of a credit card are the product or a program code in which the issuing bank has made the card. The following eleven digits after the first four constitute a credit card number and the last one is the result of processing credit card numbers by a certain encryption algorithm. That particular program receives the eleven digits as an input, processes it by resistant cryptographic algorithms and displays the result. Since the result is a decimal digit, then due to the complexity of the program work the probability of noncoincidence remains one to ten (very high degree).

Currently, there are programs (you can call them harmful) that generate credit card numbers. So, to rely on the protection of credit card only by its number is not a reasonable point - it could be relevant only in the seventies of last century. Therefore, even in the bank cards that do not contain computer chips, there is additional information that serves as security for the benefit of the card holder. Thus, the card must give a full owner’s name, expiration date, signature of the owner, and additional numbers. When buying through the Internet, these data is often required to confirm the safety of commercial transaction with a credit card.

The entire information is enough to conduct transactions over the network. This also applies to debit card numbers, which are also used in the calculations and have the same protection. Incidentally, some debit cards have an overdraft service, when due to the shortage of funds in the account, debit card turns into a credit card. So, for the calculations the deep-stored PIN is usually NOT required.

All the credit cards also have a common scheme of numbering. A number of a credit card consists of a major industry identifier with a single digit (MII), an issuer identifier number with six digits (IIN), a single-digit checksum1 and an account number.

The Major Identifier corresponds to the category of issuer. For example:

For the entertainment and travel category it is necessary to use American Express, while Discover Card, MasterCard and Visa are in the financial and banking category.

The first 6 digits of the number of credit cards (with the MII digit) build the issuer identifier that denotes the card network and the number to which it belongs. The well-known identifiers include:

The maximum length of the number of a credit card can be 19 digits, and the length of the account field can maximum be 12 digits. Each issuer can have a trillion possible numbers of an account.

The final digit on a credit card number is a check one, similar to a checksum. It confirms the initial digits of the number and prevents the attempts to invent card numbers. Additionally, it helps to avoid mistakes while recording the card number manually. Credit cards also have expiration and issue dates and extra codes, like security codes and issue numbers.
  1. Checksum - fixed-size datum computed from digital data to detect accidental errors in its storage or transmission.
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