What is a Credit Card Number?

What is a Credit Card Number?

15 January, 2024

One of the most powerful tools of the modern financial era is that plastic/metal card that sits comfortably in your wallet, giving you the ability to make high-ticket purchases instantly. This card comprising your name and some seemingly-random numbers generates an array of savings through linked rewards, discount offers, cashback benefits, and more. We, are, of course, talking about Credit Cards. When you buy something online, you typically have to enter your Credit Card number. Ever wondered what a Credit Card number is and what it entails? Read on to find out.

What Is A Credit Card Number?

To learn what a Credit Card number is we need to first understand the structure of a Credit Card number. A standard Credit Card typically features a 15-16 digit number. Each digit plays a specific role in identifying and validating the card. While the card number appears random at first glance, it is anything but. This number adheres to a specific pattern across various credit networks and issuers. The structure of a Credit Card number is typically as follows:

  • Issuer Identification Number (IIN) – 

    The first six digits of a Credit Card number are known as the Issuer Identification Number (IIN), also referred to as the Bank Identification Number (BIN). These digits identify the card issuer, i.e., the bank or financial institution that has issued the Credit Card. The IIN typically indicates whether the card is issued by a bank or a non-banking financial institution.

  • Credit Card Account Number – 

    The subsequent digits, usually between the 7th and 15th positions, form the Credit Card account number. This number uniquely identifies your individual account within the issuing bank or financial institution.

  • Check Digit – 

    The last digit of the Credit Card number is known as the check digit. It serves as a validation code to ensure the accuracy of the entire Credit Card number. Various mathematical algorithms are used to calculate the check digit, making it difficult for fraudsters to generate valid Credit Card numbers.

  • Expiration Date – 

    The expiration date of a Credit Card is an important aspect of its functionality. It indicates the month and year when the card ceases to be valid for transactions. It is typically printed on the face of the Credit Card, usually in the format ‘MM/YY.’ The two digits before the slash represent the expiration month, while the two digits after the slash represent the expiration year.

Upon reaching the expiration date, the card becomes useless for making transactions. The cardholder needs to obtain a renewed card from the issuing bank or financial institution. This is done to enhance security and reduce the risk of fraudulent activities associated with outdated cards. Typically, your issuing bank sends you your renewed Credit Card just before it is due to expire so that you can enjoy uninterrupted services.

  • Card Verification Value –

    The Identification Number of a Credit Card, also known as the Card Verification Value (CVV) or Card Verification Code (CVC), is a crucial security feature. This three or four-digit number is typically printed on the flip side of the Credit Card, usually near the signature strip. In some cases, it may be printed on the front, above the embossed 16-digit Credit Card number.

The CVV/CVC acts as an additional layer of authentication, proving that the cardholder has physical possession of the Credit Card during a transaction. It is not stored on the magnetic stripe or the card’s chip, making it more challenging for cybercriminals to steal all the necessary information for fraudulent activities.

Understanding the Remaining Digits

The remaining digits, usually positioned between the Credit Card account number and the check digit, play a significant role in the uniqueness and validity of a Credit Card number. These digits are generated by the issuing bank or financial institution and serve various purposes, including:

  • Card Type Identification – 

    Certain digits within this section of the Credit Card signify the type of Credit-providing entity issuing the Credit Card. The most globally renowned Credit providers include Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. Each card network has specific identifiers that allow merchants and payment processors to recognise the card type. Besides, the logo of the Credit network is also typically embossed on your Credit Card.

  • Individual Account Variation – 

    The remaining digits are used to differentiate one individual Credit Card account from another within the same bank or financial institution. This ensures that no two Credit Card numbers are the same.

Differentiating Card Types

Credit Cards come in various types, each designed to cater to specific needs and financial situations. The type of Credit Card is typically determined by the card network, and your Credit Card number reflects this classification. The most common types of Credit Cards available in India include:

  • Visa 

    Visa cards have the IIN starting with the number ‘4.’ Visa has an extensive reach across the global, making Visa cards the most widely accepted Credit Cards. You can also enjoy a range of exclusive features and notable benefits, including rewards and cashback programs as a Visa cardholder.

  • MasterCard

    In case of MasterCard Credit Cards, the IIN starts with the number ‘5.’ Like Visa, Mastercard is also widely accepted worldwide. It is Visa’s biggest competitor and is known for offers a variety of rewards and perks to cardholders.

  • American Express

    Known for their premium features and exclusive rewards programs, American Express cards, also referred to as Amex cards, have the IIN starting with the number ‘3.’ Compared to Visa and MasterCard they are not as widely accepted. Also, the charges associated with Amex cards tend to be higher.

  • Discover

    Discover cards have the IIN starting with the number ‘6.’ The US-based Discover Financial network offers unique benefits to its cardholders. In India, Discover has partnered with the National Payment Corporation in India to offer RuPay Credit Cards.

  • RuPay Credit Cards

    Thanks to the NCPI’s ties with Discover Financial, RuPay Credit Cards also have the IIN starting with the number ‘6’. While RuPay Credit Cards were initially accepted only in India, today you can use for international transactions and overseas wherever Discover, Diner Club and JCB Cards are accepted.

HDFC Bank Credit Cards

At HDFC Bank, we offer an array of Visa, Master, Discover (Diner’s Club) and RuPay Credit Cards. Our association with the world’s most extensive credit networks, including our variety of Credit Card products designed for regular to privileged customers means that there is a Credit Card for everyone. All you need to do is check if you are eligible for a Credit Card and send out your application.

Apply for HDFC Bank Credit Cards online to enjoy the benefits of a wholesome Credit Card.

*Terms and conditions apply. The information provided in this article is generic in nature and for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for specific advice in your own circumstances. Credit Card approvals at the sole discretion of HDFC Bank Limited. Credit Card approvals is subject to documentation and verification as per Bank’s requirement. Interest rates are subject to change. Please check with your RM or closest bank branch for current interest rates.

Apply for HDFC Bank Credit Cards online to enjoy the benefits of a wholesome Credit Card.

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