Difference Between a Payment Card Number and Bank Identification Number BIN

admin / April 7, 2018

Payment card number and bank identification number are numbers associated with credit, debit, store and gift cards as well as other kinds of cards used for payment. Some people think that they mean the same thing or are used to represent the same reality. But really, they are not the same even though they are highly related. Here, I am going to explain the difference between the two terms and how they are related.

Understanding the difference

Every plastic card whether it is a credit, debit or gift card has a unique number boldly embedded on it. With this number, you can identify the card with it. Whenever you want to make payment with your card, you will be required to provide this number and your card ID. It is important that you don’t reveal this number to any person otherwise you may end up being a victim of credit card theft. This number is what is called a payment card number. Some card issuers refer to this number as a bank card number. The card tells you a lot about your card.

Your card number is like the DNA of your card even though it does not directly reveal the account number to which your card is linked to. What does your card number tell of? If you can analyse your card number, you will be able to tell the issuing company, your designated account numbers and an account linked to a customer by the issuer of the card. The association with a customer in a stored-value card type is only established if the prepaid card is reloadable. The issuers of plastic cards don’t just number their card indiscriminately without following any standard. Numbers are assigned to them according to their ISO/IEC 7812. For security reason, the coding is done on a magnetic stripe or chip. Each of the digits or a set of the digits stand for something. Here is how the card is structured.

The first 6 digits are collectively known as bank identification number or issuer identification number. This set of number tells you the issuer of the card, the type of card you are issued with, the country where it is issued and other useful information. Every card has a check digit known as the Luhn check digit. It is always the last digit of a card number. The remaining numbers that come between the issuer identification number and the check digit identifies the individual account number. They are referred to as individual account identification number.

The difference between a payment card number and the BIN comes out clearly with the analysis of the structure of a card given above. Card number is like a parent of BIN. BIN is part of a payment card number. A payment card number is not complete without the BIN check but a BIN can stand on its own. It is what you need for a bank identification number lookup services and not the entire card number which is what is used in making payment.