What Is A Bank Identification Number
A bank identification number, or BIN, is a code used to identify the bank a particular card is associated with. Issuer Identification Number, INN, is also used to describe this numbering system.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed the numbering system for Bank Identification Numbers today. This numbering system has become the standard for business and industry not only in the USA, but globally.
It’s generally the first 4-6 numbers on a credit or debit card. These numbers can identify the issuing bank, as well as the specific card network like Visa, MasterCard, etc. Starting in 2022, the BIN increased to 8 digits to accommodate the growing number of issuers.
Each card-issuing bank has its own BIN, which allows the financial sector to match cards with their banks. In addition to matching the bank and the card to one another, the BIN can also identify the type and location of the institution. BIN are used with all types of payment cards, including:
- Credit Cards
- Debit Cards
- Charge Cards
- Prepaid Cards
- Gift Cards
- Health Care Cards (HSA)
- Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards
How BIN Numbers Work
It’s important to note that most cards have a 16-digit number associated with them. However, American Express cards have only 15 digits. This is not important for the BIN conversation but could be important in your business. For this discussion, we will focus on the 16-digit numbers.
When looking at a payment card, you will see a 16-digit number, generally separated into 4 groups with 4 numbers in each group. This is the traditional way in which a card number will appear. From here, the numbers breakdown as follows:
- The first number on the card is referred to as the Major Industry Identifier or MII. This number represents the specific type or category of institution by which the card was issued. For example, Visa cards are commonly issued by banks, so their MII represents banks. Diner’s Club and AMEX cards are categorized as entertainment and travel, so their MII reflects that designation. In other words, the MII designates the industry with which the card is associated.
- The full 6 digits at the beginning of the card number represent the specific institution to which the card is associated. The specific bank or institution that issued the card is reflected here.
- The collective 15 or 16 digits on the card represent the cardholder’s account number. This identifies the specific user and their associated account.
Visual Layout of a BIN
Here is a visual depiction of how the 15- or 16-digit card number is broken down:
- Card Number: ABBB BBCC CCCC CCCC
- A: (Single Digit) specifies the MII or Industry
- BBBBB: (next five digits) card issuing bank or institution
- CCCCCCCCCC: (next 9-12 digits) identify the individual account holder
Major Industry Identifier (MII) Codes
Every payment card will have many distinguishing factors directly tied to the number sequence. The numbers will directly reflect information about the issuer of the card and the industry that card is associated with.
Here is a breakdown of the most MII categories and their uses today:
- ISO/TC 68 Assignment
- Airline Cards
- Airlines Cards (and other future industry assignments)
- Travel and Entertainment Cards
- Banking and Financial Cards
- Banking and Financial Cards
- Merchandising and Financial Cards
- Gas Cards, other future industry assignments
- Healthcare Cards, Telecommunications, and other future industry assignments
- For Use by National Standards Bodies
BIN Numbers for Card Issuing Networks
Each payment card, whether a credit or debit card utilizes the Major Industry Identifier numbers when issuing new consumer accounts. While every card will be unique, there are common factors between cards from the same issuer.
The numbers that each card begins with will indicate the issuing company. The most common credit and debit cards follow the following sequence:
- Visa: 4*** **** **** ****
- MasterCard: 55 or 51*** **** **** ****
- American Express: 31 or 37** ****** *****
- Discover: 60, 62, 64 or 65*** **** **** ****
- Diner’s Club: 3, 36 or 38** ****** ****
How to Use BIN Numbers
For merchants, BIN/IIN numbers are worth far more than just knowing the category and institution that issued the card. Businesses accepting card payments from their customers can also obtain the following information from these numbers:
- Name, address, and telephone number of the card-issuing bank
- The specific brand or card network, such as Visa, MasterCard, etc.
- The type of card (debit, credit, prepaid or gift card)
- The card level (black, platinum, business, etc.)
- The country in which the issuer and place of transaction are, and whether those match
- If the address provided by the cardholder matches the one on file with the bank or issuer
Bank Identification Numbers
Being able to collect and understand this information is crucial to many businesses. It can help protect both the business and its customers from potential fraud. It can also help business owners understand where most customers come from and their payment preferences.
Bank ID Numbers are used in the financial world to determine the financial institution a payment card belongs to. Bank Identification Numbers help flow transactions while protecting consumers from identity theft and fraud.