What Is A Credit Card Number

What Are Credit Card Numbers: What Do They Mean?

Understanding credit card numbers in detail

Credit cards have been an important aspect of the entire digital transactions landscape. They offer us great convenience and flexibility, allowing us to access funds whenever necessary. It is interesting to note that there is a complex system at play behind the working of credit cards. Your credit card number also holds an essential spot in this entire process. Let’s dive in and explore the real essence of credit card numbers and their significance.

Some people could simply take a credit card number to be a random string of numbers. However, in reality, each digit of the card serves a specific purpose. These credit card numbers can be typically 19 digits long, based on the specific network. Let’s explore a comprehensive breakdown of the significance of these digits in detail below:

1. Issuer Identification Number (IIN):

The initial six digits of your card number can be correlated with the Issuer Identification Number (IIN), alternatively known as the Bank Identification Number (BIN). The financial institution in charge of issuing your card and identifying the payment network to which it is connected can both be determined by these numerical codes. In plainer terms, the IIN or BIN at the beginning of your card denotes its affiliation with a particular payment network, such as Visa.

2. Account number: 

Following the IIN, the next set of digits is the unique account number assigned to the cardholder. This number helps identify the specific account linked to the card.

3. Checksum digit:

The last digit of the credit card number is known as the checksum digit or the Luhn digit. It's calculated using a mathematical formula known as the Luhn algorithm, which ensures the integrity of the credit card number and helps detect errors.

The Influence of card networks 

In India, various card networks, including Visa, Mastercard and RuPay, issue credit cards. Each card network follows a specific IIN range to distinguish its cards. Here's how it generally works:


Visa cards typically start with 4, such as 4xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

2. Mastercard:

Mastercard numbers usually begin with 5, like 5xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

3. RuPay: 

RuPay cards are specific to India and can be identified by the IIN 60-64. They are 16-digit cards, such as 6071xxxxxxxxxxxx.

Must Read: What is Credit Card Rewards Programs

The other numbers on a credit card

Reasoning for the need for seamless online transactions, credit cards have become a sought-after financial product. It offers extended convenience, a high level of security and increased purchasing flexibility.

Along with the primary credit card number, there are other numbers as well that serve individual specific purposes. Let’s demystify these other numbers - the CVV, date of card expiry, and PIN - to help you understand their importance and how they contribute to your card's functionality.

1. CVV (Card Verification Value)

The Card Verification Value (CVV) is a three or four-digit sequence found on the back of your credit card. Consider it your card's secret code, designed to increase security when making purchases online or over the phone. The CVV is not visible on the front of your card; it is purposefully hidden on the back to deter potential theft. This covert placement provides an additional layer of security. When you shop online or over the phone, the merchant will ask for your CVV to ensure that you are in possession of the correct card and are not attempting to deceive them. It is similar to your credit card's personal security handshake.

2. Date of card expiry

The expiration date on your credit card serves as a historical marker, indicating when your card will no longer be usable for financial transactions. Credit cards often remain functioning for two to five years before becoming inoperative for purchasing transactions. It's highly crucial to mention that banks frequently send new cards to their customers before the current one expires. 

3. Personal identification number

The Personal Identification Number, also called your card’s PIN, is a unique code that lets you access your account. It establishes your card ownership and facilitates transactions at the ATM. Limiting the transactions that may be made with your card helps increase its security. It offers a secure means to verify your identity when using the card physically. Entering the correct PIN serves as proof that you are the rightful cardholder, providing an additional security layer to prevent unauthorised usage.


Credit card numbers are not just strings of digits but integral components of the financial ecosystem. They encode critical information about the card and the issuing institution, making transactions smoother and more secure.

Understanding the structure and significance of these numbers empowers consumers and financial professionals alike to navigate the world of credit cards with confidence and insight. Turn to Kotak811 and get your hands on one of the most beneficial credit cards. We strive to provide you with best-in-class support and be a companion on your financial journey. 

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This Article is for information purposes only. The views expressed in this Article do not necessarily constitute the views of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. (“Bank”) or its employees. Bank makes no warranty of any kind with respect to the completeness or accuracy of the material and articles contained in this Newsletter. The information contained in this Article is sourced from empanelled external experts for the benefit of the customers and it does not constitute legal advice from Kotak. Kotak, its directors, employees, and contributors shall not be responsible or liable for any damage or loss resulting from or arising due to reliance on or use of any information contained herein.