How Many Numbers Does A Credit Card Have?

Q:

How many numbers does a credit card have?

A:

There are 16 numbers on a typical credit card from Visa, MasterCard, and Discover.  The numbers are commonly grouped in four sets of four. However, not all credit cards have 16 digits.

The most common credit card without 16 digits is American Express, which has 15 digits. Diner’s Club has 14 digits but may also have 16 digits if it bears the MaserCard logo. The maximum length of any credit card is 19 digits. Let’s take a closer look at the length of credit card numbers for various card types.

Length of Credit Card Numbers

IssuerLength of Credit Card Number
American Express15
Diner's Club14 or 16
Discover16 or 19
MasterCard16
Visa13, 16, or 19

What Credit Card Numbers Mean?

Credit cards numbers are not just a series of random numbers produced for each card issued. You can identify a few things by looking at certain numbers on your card.

  • The first digit of the credit card number tells you the credit card issuer. However, you have to look at the second numbers for American Express and Diner’s Club since they share the same first digit. The first digit(s) of each credit are as follows:
    • Visa starts with a 4.
    • MasterCard starts with a 5.
    • Discover starts with a 6.
    • American Express starts with a 3,  second number is a 4 or 7.
    • Diner’s Club also starts with a 3, second number is 0, 6, 8, or 9. If the card is a Diner’s Club MasterCard, it will have a first number of 5.
  • The first six digits of the credit card number is known as the Bank Identification Number or Issuer Identification Number. This number tells you who issued the card. For example, the issuer of your Visa might have been Chase who could be identified by this 6 digit number. You can verify the issuer of a particular by typing in the first 6 digits of a card number into the BIN Database.
  • The remaining digits not including the last digit are the numbers that identify the card holder.
  • The last digit is the check number. This number helps ensure that the correct credit card number is typed when entering it into a computer. The last digit check used by credit card companies is based on the Luhn algorithm.