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Credit and debit card parts

We take a look at the various parts of credit and debit cards, and explain what they are and what they’re used for.

 

We take a look at the various parts of credit and debit cards, and explain what they are and what they’re used for.

 

Written by
Sajni Shah
Consumer expert on money and utilities
Posted
9 FEBRUARY 2021
5 min read
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Front of a credit card

1. Card issuer
The name of the bank, building society or other financial organisation that issued the card: for example, Barclays or American Express. 

2. EMV Chip
EMV stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa. This computer chip creates a unique transaction code for each purchase you make. 

3. Long number
This is the permanent account number or PAN. The number identifies the institution that issued the card and the cardholder. 

4. Valid from date
This appears as ‘start’ on some cards. Not all cards have it.

5. Name
Name of the account holder. 

6. Contactless symbol
If your credit card is set up for contactless payments, it will have this symbol. You can use contactless cards for transactions up to £100 without having to use your PIN.  

7. Expiry date
This appears as ‘end’ on some cards. Your card will expire on the last day of the month shown.  

8. Card network logo
Card networks (also known as schemes) control transactions between credit card issuers and merchants. UK card schemes include Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Maestro. If a merchant displays this logo, you’ll be able to use your card there.

Front of a debit card

1. Card issuer
This will be the bank, building society or other financial organisation that issued the card: for example, HSBC, Lloyds Bank or the Post Office.  

2. EMV chip
EMV stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa. This computer chip creates a unique transaction code for each purchase you make. 

3. Long number
The PAN or permanent account number is the same as the number of the account the card is linked to. 

4. Valid from date 
This appears as ‘start’ on some cards. 

5. Name
The name of the account holder.

6. Sort code
The sort code identifies the financial organisation and branch of the account the card belongs to.

7. Account number
The number of the bank account the card is linked to. 

8. Contactless symbol
Cards with this symbol are set up for contactless payments. You can use them to make payments of up to £100 without using your PIN.

9. Expiry date
This appears as ‘end’ on some cards. Your card will expire on the last day of the month shown.  

10. Card network logo 
Card networks (also known as schemes) control transactions between debit card issuers and retailers. UK debit card schemes include Visa, Mastercard and Maestro. If a merchant displays this logo, you’ll be able to use your card there. 

11. Issue number
Solo and Maestro debit cards have this number.

Back of a credit/debit card

1. Magnetic strip
Information about you and your card is encoded into this strip. If you make purchases or withdraw money using a card reader, the strip provides your details for verification.

2. Signature strip 
You need to sign your card for it to be valid.

3. Hologram
Holograms are difficult to forge, so some credit and debit cards have them as an additional security measure.

4. Emergency number
This is the number to call if your card is lost or stolen. It’s a good idea to keep a note of this number elsewhere.

5. CCV number
This is the last three numbers on the back of your card. You’ll be asked for this when you make transactions remotely: for example, when you purchase online. These are known as ‘card not present’ transactions.

Frequently asked questions

What does CVV mean?

CCV stands for credit card verification code, sometimes called the CVV or security code.

You’ll typically find this number on the back of your card. You’re likely to be asked for it when you buy something online.

What does PAN stand for on a credit card?

PAN stands for permanent account number. This is unique to the cardholder and helps identify your account, the card and the card issuer. It’s used by banks around the world.

The first digit indicates the provider:

  • Mastercard numbers start with 2 or 5.
  • Visa card numbers start with 4.
  • American Express numbers start with 3.

The first six digits help to identify the card issuer. This is known as an Issue Identifier Number or ‘IIN’.

The remaining numbers relate to your account, apart from the last one known as a ‘check digit’. Banks use this to check that a full credit card number has been given, in the right order.

Why are my bank card details now on the back of my card?

Several banks have changed their card design for branding purposes and moved all the details to the back. This can make the card easier to find when scrolling through your digital wallet. Your details are less visible to others when paying, so potentially it’s more secure too.

What is the card issue number for?

The card issue number was used when credit card providers kept the original credit card number when issuing a new card. So, for example, the new card would be issue 2 with a new expiry date and a different CVV number.

But card issuers now typically change the card number as a security precaution when issuing a new card.

What do the dots and notches on credit cards mean?

Some banks have introduced credit and debit card features to help people with visual impairments.

Mastercard has a notch on one edge of the card to help distinguish different types of cards. Its debit card has a round notch, the credit card has a squarish notch and the prepaid card has a triangular notch.

Some cards have raised dots at the opposite end to the chip to help people insert the card the right way up.

The raised dots can also help distinguish between types of card. Credit cards have four dots arranged in a line while debit cards have six dots in a rectangular shape.

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Sajni Shah - Consumer expert on utilities and money

Sajni is passionate about building products, allowing Compare the Market to help you make great financial decisions. She keeps track of the latest trends and evolving markets to find new ways to help you save money.

Learn more about Sajni