Security begins with understanding credit card numbers and what they mean for gas, Discover, Visa, MasterCard, American Express credit cards.
All the numbers that appear on your credit card have a precise meaning and do not only specify its holder. Let’s examine these meanings.
The majority of credit card companies use the same approach when choosing a card number. Let’s consider those that are applied by all.
The number begins with either a 3,4,5, or 6. This digit characterizes the type of your card:
- 3 is for a card for Travel & Entertainment … Diner’s Club and American Express fall into this category.
- 4 is the brand for Visa and Visa-branded cash and debit cards.
- 5 as the first digit is for MasterCard brands of credit, debit, and cash cards, etc.
- 6 is the first number you will see on all Discover credit cards.
Then we have a digit that in the case of American Express and Diners Club will classify the company itself. Therefore, while American Express cards will start with either “34” or “37”, Diners Club cards will always begin with either “36” or “38”.
What is left is a series of numbers that might be applied differently on the basis of issuer and the card type.
Very often what follows is first a group of numbers that identifies the card-issuing bank, then the holder’s account, and finally a check number. This digit is calculated through a specific formula in relation to all the previous numbers and is used to protect against fraudulent use.
To be clearer about these numbers, compare your card against the following points.
Digits three and four are used by The American Express Card to identify the card type (business or personal) and the cardholder’s currency. Then, the group of digits from the 5th all the way to the 11th represents the account numbers. Finally, digits twelve through fourteen specify the card number, while the last digit is the above mentioned check digit.
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Visa uses digits two through six to specify the bank number. Digits seven till fifteen represent the account number, followed again by the check digit. In the case of Visa, the total number of digits can be different as these cards do not all have the same sum of numbers in the series.
With MasterCard, the 2nd digit, to between the third and the sixth digit, represents the bank number. The remaining digits identify the cardholder’s account, except for the check digit at the end.
Gas Credit Cards and Department Store Charge Cards
Some others like telephone, store and gas only credit cards apply a different technique that is specific to each company; you can see some of the similarities if you look at 2 different cards from the same company; but since the numbering convention isn’t the same across all companies, it would be hard to go into detail on each and every one.
Why Know Credit Card Numbers and What They Mean?
Although this information might seem apparently useless, knowing more details about your card can be an important source of power in preventing credit card fraud.