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the-secret-of-credit-card-numbers

# the-secret-of-credit-card-numbers

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04/30/2013

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The Secret of Credit Card Numbers
by:
Gordon Goh
Have you ever really looked at your credit card and tried to figure out what that huge string of numbers really means? Do these card issuers have so many customers that your accountnumber has to be 16 digits long?You may be surprised to know that all those numbers you see actually do stand for something, and it's not just who YOU are. Let's take a look.Most of the major credit card companies operate on the same system when choosing a creditcard number. Other cards like gas cards, department store cards and phone cards go their own way. Let's concentrate on the ones that all play by the same rules.The very first digit in the series will be a 3,4,5, 0r 6. This number designates the type of cardas follows:3 = a Travel & Entertainment Card like American Express or Diners Club.4 = Visa and Visa-branded debit cards, cash cards, etc.5 = MasterCard and MasterCard-branded debit cards, cash cards, etc.6 = Discover American Express and Diners Club use thesecond digit to identify the company. That meansthat Diners Club cards will start with either "36" or "38", and American Express cards will useeither "34" or "37".The remaining numbers in the series are used for different purposes depending upon the cardtype and issuer.In most cases, the next group after the opening series of numbers represents the routingnumber of the card-issuing bank, the group after that is the user's account number, and thefinal digit is a check digit. The check digit is a number that is calculated by applying a specialformula to all of the other numbers. The check digit is the result of that formula and is used asan anti-fraud check.To keep things from getting too confusing, look at your card as you follow along for the nextsteps.American ExpressThe American Express Card uses digits three and four for type (business or personal) and thecurrency of the cardholder's country of origin. The next digits from the fifth through theeleventh are account numbers. Digits twelve through fourteen indicate the card number withinthe account and the last digit is the check digit.VisaWith Visa, digits two through six represent the bank number. Beginning with the seventh digitand running through the twelfth or the fifteenth represents the account number and the lastnumber is the check digit. Since all Visa cards do not have the same amount of numbers inthe sequence, the number of digits in a group may vary.MasterCardFor MasterCard, the second digit, through to anywhere between the third and the sixth digit isthe bank number. All remaining digits, except the check digit at the end of the series, identifiesthat cardholder's account.Now that we've gone over it all, you're probably wondering why you were ever wondering in
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