What is Credit Card ID Number. Outlining Credit Card Structure

What is Credit Card ID Number? We use these little but powerful cards every day, but have you ever stopped to learn what makes them and how are they built?

This post will outline the structure of credit cards and what is the ID of the card.

When it comes to successfully owning and using credit cards, it pays to know as much about them as possible.

Just as important as credit limits, terms and conditions, and account types, is that of the various items scattered across both the front and back of your credit card.

There are several reasons for getting to know your card inside and out. This is what we look at in this article. 

Here we explain what all those numbers on your credit card really mean to get a better idea of how each credit card works.

This includes that all-important credit card ID number and how unique this number is of all.

What is Credit Card ID Number – All the Numbers on Your Credit Card Explained

Before we go any further, it’s worth considering the anatomy of your credit card.

Starting with the front of a typical credit card, you can expect to find the following printed:

1. The credit card issuer name

This is the issuing bank’s name and the place where you applied to get the credit card. This will determine the benefits, reward points, and other details.

2. The name of the credit card 

Most credit cards will have a name for the specific type of card that you are using. Therefore, you may well see one credit card issuer offer various kinds of credit cards. Good examples here include cash rewards.

3. The credit card network 

Perhaps the most prominent logo on the card. This section tells you of the signature network status of your credit card.

This will also refer to the services you can expect associated with this card and where you can use it. 

This network will be the one responsible for the processing of your card’s payments.

The four most common credit card networks are Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover.

With Visa and Mastercard two of the world’s biggest credit card networks, these are the more familiar you’ll see here.

4. The name of the cardholder 

When you apply for a credit card, you’ll be offered the chance to include the exact name here on your credit card. This will indicate the card’s owner and should only be used by that person.

5. The credit card number  

This is the long section of numbers displayed prominently across the front of the card. 

Occasionally, some people will reference this number as the credit card ID number. But this isn’t the case, for a reason, we’ll mention later in the article. 

This number is stored in your credit cards’ magnetic strip and is associated solely with your card.

So, each time you swipe your card, be it at a reader or terminal, this number provides all credit card network and user numbers.

Though some cards may only have seven digits here, most cards consist of up to sixteen digits in total here. These numbers are allocated by the card issuer themselves.

However, it’s the ISO, which is the International organization for Standardization, or the American National Standard Institute that assigns such numbers.

What is Credit Card ID Number

6. The EMV Chip

This is the technology that works similarly to the magnetic strip located on the back of your card.

EMV helps provide increased protection against fraud on your card. This is the part that allows you to use your credit card by chip and pin. 

Here, instead of swiping a card through the groove as was once the norm, you can insert your credit card into a slot on the reader.

7. The date that you opened your credit card account

Though not all credit cards will provide this, those that do, tell of the year the credit card account was opened.

8. The expiration date of the card itself

This is the date in which the credit card in question will expire. This, in no way, means the account will be closed at this point. Instead, it’s time for a new card to be issued.  

When that does happen, all the above information will once again change to cater to your new credit card!

Turning our attention to the back of a credit card, these are some of the more typical features you can expect to find here:

What is Credit Card ID Number

9. The Magnetic stripe

As already mentioned, this section holds all your credit card account information and details.

This is made up of millions of tiny magnetic particles, helping your transactions when the card is swiped.

However, over time these magnetic stripes can become problematic and fail to work when you need it the most.

Usually, this is more than likely due to dirt, scratches, or even a magnet erasing the data.

10. The Cards ID Number

This is perhaps the most important part of the credit card, and the number we explain below in further detail.

11. The credit cards account customer service phone number

Usually displayed here as a general customer service number, this is given for ease of getting in touch with the provider should you encounter a credit card problem.  

12. A signature box

This is the place that was once upon a time, a fraud-prevention tool. That was, however, in the days of pen, paper, and checks!

The idea is that the signature here would make the card legally valid and checked off against another signature offered at the time of purchase.

Nowadays, most retailers don’t even give this area a second glance. Likewise, most cardholders don’t even fill this section. This is because the pin has long since canceled this tool out!

13. A Hologram 

This is a security feature that is made for the sole purpose of preventing people from physically copying your credit card.

The concept here is that there are several image layers and then images hidden within these layers.

This makes it near impossible for those fraudsters to copy using a scanner. 

What is Credit Card ID Number

What is a Credit Card ID Number, and What Does it do?

Your credit card ID number is what’s known in the industry as a fraud-prevention tool.

This is applied to your card to ensure that when transactions occur that don’t require a credit card’s physical use, they remain safe.

This means that when you shop online or pay over the phone, and your credit card does not get physically passed over, you can still make purchases. 

It simply means you won’t be referring to the chip or magnetic strip when you do so here.

This number is concealed on the magnetic strip, and this is why it’s called the ID as opposed to the long card number, as mentioned earlier.

Whereas someone can swipe your card to retrieve information using the magnetic strip, the ID number cannot be extracted this way.

This is what makes it safe and secure and, of course, unique to your card only.

The Importance of Your Credit Card ID Number

Because the ID number is displayed on your card only, should anyone else try to use your card online or over the phone, they won’t be able to get any further without quoting it.

Thus, this number will need to be verified to complete such transactions.

By quoting this number at checkout online or on the phone, it proves that you have ownership of the card. This means the card being used isn’t a stolen credit card.

Where is My Credit Card ID Number Located?

While most credit cards tend to present their ID number on the back, some have it on the front of the card. 

Likewise, whereas some credit card providers issue three-digit ID codes, you will also find four digits used as well.

A visa credit card, Mastercard, and Discover card will all use a three-digit ID number. This will always be found on the back of your credit card.

An American Express card, however, will always use a four-digit ID number. This will always be displayed on the front of your credit card.

Credit Card ID Number Goes by Many Names

As well as being referred to as a credit card ID number, this particular set of digits will also be described by other terms. Therefore, you may well hear:

CVV – Card Verification Value 

CID – Card Identification Number

CSC – Card Security Code

CVC – Card Verification Code

CVV2 – Card Verification Value Second-Generation (thus making them even harder to guess!)

Regardless of the term or name used here, they all refer to the same section of your credit card.

Its unique identification number will vary on every credit card and is your ultimate form of security on the card. 

Are Credit Card ID Numbers Really Safe?

It’s never possible to determine a credit card as 100% safe due to fraudster and hackers’ ever-changing methods.

But, the card ID number makes it an extra hurdle for them to attempt to overcome.

Unfortunately, card skimmers are the biggest threat and those that many fall victim to.

Card skimming is a practice whereby the card number and pin from your credit card are copied.

This is either by a camera installed and recording it all. Or a person may stand over you as you enter your card and details.

ATMs have been the biggest targets for such activity and merchants’ locations, and indeed, gas pumps have fallen victim to such scam as well.

Their primary target here is that long magnetic strip at the back of your card.

This holds all the information a fraudster needs to replicate your credit card for their own use.

However, keeping your ID number secure and using a credit card with a chip means you aren’t readily offering up such information to these kinds of people. 

How are Credit Card ID Numbers Used?

What is Credit Card ID Number

You will more than likely use your credit card ID number when buying goods or services online.

When doing so over the phone, you will also be asked this number to confirm the transaction.

A valid point to remember here, though, is never to confuse your cards ID number with that of your pin.

The two are entirely separate, and you should never be asked to enter your pin when providing your ID number.

Remember, the entire purpose of using an ID number is to prove to a merchant, either online or by phone, that you actually have the card physically in front of you at that time.

Likewise, you will never use this ID number at an ATM or when making an in-person purchase or taking a cash advance on the card.

Additional Measures to Keep Your Credit Card Safe

As well as safeguarding this ID number, you can also work to improve your credit card safety by:

  1. Keeping your credit cards out of sight and placed somewhere safe.
  2. Not exposing your credit card for any longer than need be. Some fraudsters will take pictures of cards on show, so put it away when you’ve completed the transaction.
  3. Shred any documents with your credit card information on. This includes monthly statements and even old credit cards.
  4. Don’t readily hand out your credit card details. Make sure when using them on calls, you’ve initiated the phone call, not the other way around.
  5. Likewise, don’t offer up your credit card information to email links. Banks and credit card companies will never email you with links to pay or verify. If in doubt, sign-in directly from their website. 

Final Thoughts on Credit Card ID Numbers

The ID card number on your unique credit card is a simple but effective way to ensure your card remains safe and secure.

Used solely as a fraud-prevention tool, it’s the number that most of us wouldn’t usually give a second thought to.

However, its inclusion shows your credit card provider working harder to keep your account private.

Thus, work on protecting this number as much as you can and never offer it up willingly to those people you do not trust.

Finally, keep up to date with your account balance and activity to ensure that it’s just you using your card.

That way, you ensure the chance of someone fraudulently using your card is dramatically reduced. Thus, you’re left to get on using your credit card, hassle-free. 

About the Author: Clair Tores

Clair has been working in the banking industry for the last 10 years. With massive experience in investing, savings and overall money management, she has the know how and speak the jargon of cash.


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