Credit card number anatomy

A short tutorial here on credit card numbers:

What’s in a (CC) number?

I liked the checksum explanation:


The final digit of your credit card number is a check digit, akin to a checksum. The LUHN Formula, known also as a Mod 10 calculation, can be used to validate account numbers. The following steps are required to validate the primary account number.

Step 1: Double the value of alternate digits of the credit card number beginning with the second digit from the right (the first right-hand digit is the check digit).

Step 2: Add the individual digits comprising the products obtained in Step 1 to each of the unaffected digits in the original number.

Step 3: The total obtained in Step 2 must be a number ending in zero (30, 40, 50, etc.) for the account number to be validated.

The LUHN formula was designed to protect against accidental errors, not malicious attacks. Most credit cards and many government identification numbers use the algorithm as a simple method of distinguishing valid numbers from random digits. The LUHN algorithm will detect almost any single-digit error.

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Remaining on topic of credit card numbers:

Ever run into a situation where a seller was offering a “free” promo? Seller certifies item is free, but requests your CC number anyway, promising NOT to charge your card unless you do future business (or whatever). But you nevertheless must provide your card number in order to snag the free item being offered. Here is the answer:

Credit card builder


The numbers also tell you what bank issued the card, at least for Visa and MC.

So credit card numbers aren’t issued by VISA, Mastercard, AMEX in sequential order? I.E. I can’t take the number on my card and add 1 to it to get the number of the guy who got the next card after mine?


That is correct. If you add 1 to the check digit . . . the entire number will no longer register in the system as a valid number.:open_mouth: