Credit Card Account Numbers Explained
Credit Card Account Numbers Format
Your credit card account numbers are known as your Primary Account Numbers. Credit Card Account Numbers are referred to as being in the PAN format for short. All credit card account numbers as well as debit cards are in this PAN format. Merchant cards have their own format. American Express cards have 15 digits while other credit and debit cards have 16 digits.
New cards usually have the numbers on the back. There is no longer any reason to emboss the numbers as raised numbers since chip technology has taken over. Signature requirements have been phased out as unnecessary as well.
American Express is Different from Visa/Master Cards
The first digit functions as the card’s ID. American Express PAN numbers begin with 3, Visa begins with 4, Master Card begins with 5 and Discover begins with 6. This is in accord with the American National Standards Institute Protocol for Numbering….ANSI Standard x4 13-1983.
American Express and Discover cards have one class of credit cards that are different from other credit cards in one key respect. American Express is on a 30 day cycle. It is not revolving debt because the entire balance is due at the end of the billing cycle. This is called a “travel and entertainment” card. This family of cards was started by Diners Club back in 1950 which was then bought by Discover and finally American Express in 1957. American Express and Discover now have traditional credit cards as well.
American Express is so dominant that they have their own second digit, Number 7. All American Express cards begin with 37. Credit reporting agencies use the highest balance ever reported as the card’s credit limit for reporting purposes. This is because American Express does not set actual hard and fast credit limits. They rely instead on limiting the amount charged to what they refer to as their “comfort zone.” There are some great opportunities for rewards when choosing between Discover and American Express for their type of card. They try to outdo each other with no fee and reward programs of a seemingly endless variety.
On the back of each credit card is a 3 digit CVV Number. CVV stands for “card verification value.” It is sometimes referred to as the CSC meaning “card security code.” This number is to help combat fraud for “card not present” transactions.
Credit Card Account Numbers and the Future
Increasing pressure on credit card issuers to speed adoption of embedded microchips to replace the current magnetic stripe system used in the USA will change the credit card account numbers system forever. The new system, known as the EMV system, is considered more secure and fraud proof than the current system. EMV is short for Eurocard, Master and Visa. It is the standard system in Europe. The Target data breach created shock waves that are still being felt. Hackers recently stole data from eBay’s computer system FILE. Be prepared to be asked more often for the 3 digit security code on the back of your card until the new system is implemented. There is no exact date for the change of systems but it won’t be long. This change is a massive undertaking.