PAN (Primary Account Number)
The primary account number or payment card number is a card identifier. One can find it on the payment card. This unique card identifier commonly consists of 14, 15, or 16 digits. Sometimes, the primary account number is the only number associated with the account. In this case, one can apply the term ‘account number’ to define the identifier.
You can understand a lot from a primary account number if you familiarize yourself with the method behind its creation. The very first digit is known as the major industry identifier. It signifies the type of credit card:
American Express cards start with a 3;
Visa cards start with a 4;
MasterCard cards start with a 5;
Discover cards start with 6.
What is the structure of the PAN?
The first six digits represent the credit card network of the card. For example, 601100 represents Discover cards. A last digit is a checksum number, which allows preventing fraudsters from creating fake credit card numbers. The numbers of the first six digits and the last digit identify the customer’s account. Hence, they are always unique.
Example of the primary account number (PAN)
Take a look at this picture with a detailed explanation of the primary account number: