Here’s what the numbers on bank credit and debit cards really mean

Each number on credit or debit cards has a meaning: type of card, issuer, country of issue or control, among others. Find out here who issues each of these cards.

Bank cards have become the most widely used means of payment in the world. There are credit cards, which are a convenient financing tool, and debit cards, which allow you to pay at the time of purchase. Over the years, this method of payment has evolved and has incorporated various controls and security techniques, such as contactless, to protect against theft and fraud.

The world of these cards is based on the transmission of information through networks and the encryption of financial data. This requires a digital medium to properly organize and structure the information. This is why the cards have a variable number of digits on the front, ranging from 13 to 19, although 16 digits are the most common.

This numbering is associated with our property and checking account. However, many people think that this correlation of numbers is meaningless and random, which is not the case. Since 1989, the numbering of all issued cards must be adapted to the ISO/IEC 7812 standardwhich identifies the positions and meanings of all the numbers on a card, which are associated with a type of card, an issuer or the country where it is issued.

Numbering of bank cards

The first digit of all numbers represents the identifier of the issuing industry or system. For example, if the number begins with 1, it is a card issued by an airline, while 2 corresponds to aviation companies. 3 is identified by American Express or Diners Club, 4 is the number issued by Visa, 5 is MasterCard, 6 is Discover.

The 7 belongs to oil companies and the 8 was issued by telecommunications or health companies. As for 9, it is identified by the issue of a government, that is to say that the person carrying the bank card belongs to a state authority or institution.

The numbers on a card are associated with a type of card, an issuer or a country of issue.

As for the other digits on the card, the next five digits are the issuing bank, and then another nine digits are the institution's internal code to associate the card with the customer and meet its own numbering criteria. Finally, there is the last digit, which is the verification or check digit according to the Luhn algorithm, which is algebraically linked to the rest of the digits.