Credit Card Number
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The majority of credit card issuers (Visa and Mastercard) have 16 digits displayed across their cards. American Express has 15.
- 5 = Mastercard
- 4 = Visa
- 3 = American Express
The following five digits refer to the specific issuing bank. It is with these numbers that the necessary exchange of information for every transaction can take place.
|Card issuer||First 6 digits||Next 5 digits||Last 6 digits|
|Mastercard||5-||2, 3, 2 – 4, 5, 6||Customer account number|
|Visa||4-||2 – 6||Customer account number|
|American Express||3-||3, 4||Customer account number|
Card security and the Luhn algorithm
The other important feature of the credit card is embedded within the numbers itself. Invented by scientist Hans Peter Luhn, it is a simple algorithm which is used to validate identification numbers. IMEI numbers, South African Identification numbers, and credit card numbers can all be deemed valid via the algorithm.
Other credit card components
In addition to the number on the front of credit cards, the back of the card includes an expiry date (MM.YYYY format) and the CVV number.
- Most credit cards have 15 or 16 digits displayed across the front, depending on the issuer
- The first 6 digits indicate the issuer number, the next five refer to the specific issuing bank, and the final six equal the user’s account number
- Credit cards are secured from transcription errors via the Luhn algorithm, an equation which makes sure the remaining numbers equal the check digits
- Credit cards also include an expiration date and CVV, which provides further assurance that the card belongs to its holder