Are secrets buried in account numbers? You would certainly think so based upon how secretive Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are about what some of the numbers in your account mean.
What do the digits on credit cards mean?
The first four digits of a Visa indicate the issuing bank. Every issuing bank has a unique four digit ID.
I asked Visa for a list of all the issuing banks and their corresponding IDs. Visa refused to even discuss the matter. It seems that these IDs are their “stock and trade” so to speak. They don’t release data that would allow someone to figure out exactly how many people are issuing Visas. They feel this information could be used against them in countermarketing situations.
Places where a card is issued or accepted
Visa fought long and hard before they started to advertise how many places around the world honored their cards. Originally, they didn’t want the list of issuing banks known because it would provide a sort of directory to competitors.
ID numbers can potentially reveal a lot about how cards are issued and what you need to complete your collection. You can also learn what banks no longer issue cards due to closings, mergers, etc.
Visa is not the only marketer that is tight-lipped about their numbering. MasterCard responded with the same “non-disclosure” type statements about their numbering schemes.
What does the first digit indicate?
The current convention for the clearance centers seems to be for the first digit of the account number to indicate: 3 – American Express, Diners Club, 4 – Visa, 5 – MasterCard and 6 – Discover.
Maybe a comprehensive cross-reference could be published in the future? The following is a list of banks and their corresponding IDs:
Visa Credit Cards
4000 International Bank
4121 Home Trust Savings
4019 Bank of America
4052 1st Nationwide Bank
4217 First Fidelity Bank
4225 Chase Manhattan Bank
4226 National Community Bank
4301 Monogram Bank
4384 The Prudential Bank & Trust
4387 MoreCard – 1st Peoples Thrift
4388 Delaware Trust
4417 Mellon Bank
4460 Michigan Bankcard
4556 Santander International
4673 First Card
4717 Rocky Mountain Bank Card
4821 First Nat. Bank of Oregon
4833 U.S. Nat. Bank of Oregon
4836 First State Bank of Oregon
4950 Corner Banque – Switzerland
4966 Japanese Postal Savings
4970 Carte Bleue – France
4980 Sumitomo Bank – Japan
5123 First Nat. Bank of Palm Beach
5225 First Pennsylvania Bank
5232 Eurocard – Germany
5286 First Card
5273 Bank of America
5279 DC Card – Kinokuniya Bank
5297 First Hawaiian Bank
5301 Nanyang Commercial Bank – China
5411 Michigan Bankcard
5412 Superior Bank
5413 Eurocard – Switzerland
5416 Home Trust Savings
5417 Mellon Bank
5418 Monogram Bank
5419 Bank of Hoven
5465 Chase Manhattan
5448 Carolina Card/Crestar Bank
5828 Rocky Mountain Bank Card Sys.
Copyright 1989 by Dan Sinisi