Credit Card Number

What is a credit card number? Where is your credit card number? How can you recognize a fake credit card number?
Updated: 25.08.2023
Reading Time: 6 mins Trustbar English

Credit card number: Everything you need to know

Credit cards are a popular payment method in Germany. If you are travelling or living in a German city, you will probably use them often. On your credit card or prepaid credit card you can actually find different numbers combinations: 

  • the credit card number
  • its expiration date
  • the Card Verification Value (CVV) or Card Verification Code (CVC)
  • a PIN for ATM cash withdrawals or purchases in retail stores

Today you can find where your credit card number is, how to recognize a fake credit card number and how you can generate your own credit card number. 

Here you can find the most relevant info about credit card numbers

All you need to know about credit card numbers at a glance

Everything you need to know about credit card numbers
The more you know
  • Every credit card has a 12- to 16-digits credit card number embossed on its front side
  • Credit card numbers are important identifiers 
  • When paying online, you will always need your credit card number together with card’s CVV or CVC, expiration date and a PIN code
  • You cannot use fake credit card numbers for your online purchases

What is the credit card number and where can you find it?

The credit card number is a 12 or 16-digit number grouped in slots of 4. It is an identification element of your credit card. Since credit card numbers are created using the same system, they are all structured in the same way. The credit card number identifies the type of credit card and the card issuer. It contains the bank account number and a checking number. Due to the fact that credit card numbers are structured in the same way, their validity is easy to prove. The credit card number is placed on the front of your credit card. When paying in shops, businesses or service providers, the presentation of a credit card triggers a payment at these acceptance points. In this case, payments are assigned to your correct credit card account using your credit card number. When paying online, since the card cannot be physically presented, you will need your credit card number in order for your card to be identified. Furthermore, you will need the expiration date and the CVV or CVC (security code) of your credit card.

What are virtual credit card numbers?

Some credit card providers, as bunq, give you the possibility to generate different virtual credit card numbers for your online purchases. In the best case, you have already applied for a bank account and a credit card so that you can generate your virtual credit card number through your online account. You only need to look for “virtual card number” or “virtual account number”. With bunq you can possess up to 5 virtual cards for free. If their details are compromised or you doubt the security of your online purchases, you can generate new virtual credit card numbers. bunq will provide you with a complete credit card number and the respective CVV code.

In the list below you can find some of our suggested providers of virtual credit cards:

bank of The Free
Debit Credit Card
Yearly Fee: 
Starting at € 35,88
0,00% APR
Google Pay LogoApple Pay LogoMastercard Logo
  • Bank account with Mastercard debit card
  • 5 minute application with no SCHUFA or credit check
  • 3 cards (1x Maestro, 2x Mastercard), 5 virtual cards, 25 (!) IBAN accounts included
  • Mobile bank with a great app, Google Pay, Apple Pay and good support
  • Sustainable and environmentally friendly banking (carbon offsetting, equal opportunity and more)
Let Your Money Grow
Debit Credit Card
Yearly Fee: 
€ 0,-
  • Earn money by spending: Up to 25% cashback for purchases
  • Up to 15 free sub-accounts with IBAN
  • Free bank account with no credit history check (no SCHUFA)
  • Includes free brokerage account to invest in stocks or crypto-currencies
  • Free VISA credit card with luxurious metal look

Credit card number: Composition and examples

ABCD EFab cdef ghiX

Your credit card number contains three pieces of information: the Bank Identification Number (BIN), your account number and a checking number:

  1. The Bank Identification Number (BIN) 

The first 4 characters (A-D) identify the credit card issuer. The first character (A) identifies the issuer's industry, which in combination with the second character recognizes its company. VISA credit card numbers start with number 51 to 55 while MasterCard numbers begin with 4. 

Number 5 (E) indicates the type of credit card.

Number 6 (F) shows if it is the credit card of an additional cardholder, a second credit card or a business credit card. 

  1. The account number

Numbers 7 to 15 (a to i): this combination of numbers identifies your bank account number and can have 6 or 10 digits according to your credit institute. 

  1. The checking number

Number 16 (X) represents a checking number. Through the Luhn algorithm you can validate your credit card number using the last digit of your credit card number. 

As you can see, the credit card number is not only important for shopping online and to pay when traveling, it also contains a lot of important information that helps to check the authenticity of a card and to assign it to the correct cardholder. Your credit card number helps to prevent credit card frauds.

Your credit card’s design

Credit cards are produced in a check card format according to the international standard (ISO / IEC 7810) for identity documents. This means that the credit card has the same dimensions as your driver's license, your health insurance card and your debit card. It has the format ID1 with the dimensions 85.60 mm x 53.98 mm.

Information on the front of your credit card:

Credit card's front side
  • The credit card number is stamped in relief and sticks out over the hologram on the right
  • The first four digits of the BIN code in lower case below the credit card number
  • The month of issue of the card in the form MM YY, which is marked as "valid from"
  • The period of validity of the card is in the form MM YY and is labeled with "until end"
  • The full first and last name of the credit cardholder
  • The logo of the credit card company. Visa Card and Mastercard are the most frequently represented credit card companies.
  • The encrypted data for the authorization of a transaction are stored on the security chip (EMV). The chip is scanned by card readers to read these out after the customer has been authenticated, for example by entering a PIN.
  • Security signs such as the hologram and security features in ultraviolet light that cannot be copied and make it difficult to forge credit cards

Information on the back of your credit card:

Credit card's back side
  • The signature field: As soon as you receive your credit card, you should sign it in order for it to be a valid credit card. Retailers will compare your signature with the signature on the receipt of your purchases which helps you to be protected against credit card fraud.
  • The Card Verification Value (CVV) or Card Verification Code (CVC), also known as security code. Mastercard CVC code and VISA CVC code consist of three or four digit combinations which is particularly relevant when shopping online. The CVC number is not embossed. It is printed on the back of your credit card so it is difficult to be read by machines. You will have to give your CVC or CVV code when paying online to prove that you have the card with you.
  • The CVV or CVC is stored on the magnetic strip. It is recorded when you swipe your card through the card reader during the payment. 
  • Additional infos from the credit card issuer which depends on the type of credit card.

Tips and tricks for secure credit card payments

  • Sign your credit card as soon as you receive it 
  • Make a careful note of your PIN. Do not write it down or give your PIN by email or phone. Your bank would never ask for your PIN.
  • When paying with your credit card, make sure that the amount stated on the receipt is correct and that you get your card back directly from the seller.
  • Do not write down the card security number
  • Only enter your credit card number and card verification number on reputable sites. As a rule, most companies use encrypted pages to avoid reading out this sensitive data. You can recognize these SSL encrypted pages by the address line that begins with https: //. You can also recognize reputable online shops by their well-known quality seals such as the TÜV certificate.
  • Check your bills regularly. You can always recall incorrect invoicing and request a chargeback.
  • Block your credit card immediately, if you suspect a fraud. Write down a list of all your credit card numbers: your Deutsche Bank credit card number, Commerzbank credit card number and others. In addition, you should also note down the telephone numbers of the service hotlines and keep them where a stranger cannot find them so quickly. So you always have all your important data to hand if you need to block your card.

Frequently asked questions about credit card number

Can I pay only with my credit card number?

The credit card number alone is not enough to pay for online shopping. When making online payments, you must provide your valid credit card number, the expiration date and the CVV or CVC.

Is it safe to give the credit card number online?

You cannot pay online by entering only your credit card number. You will need to enter it together with the verification number and the expiration date. We recommend you to enter your credit card’s details only on reputable sites. As a rule, most companies use encrypted pages to avoid reading out this sensitive data. You can recognize these SSL encrypted pages by the address line that begins with https: //. You can also recognize reputable online shops by their well-known quality seals such as the TÜV certificate.

How long is my credit card valid?

The period of validity varies as this is determined by the card issuer. You can find the expiration date of your credit card on the front of your credit card.

When does the credit card number change?

If you get a new credit card after it has expired, it will keep the same credit card number but the verification number on the back will change. If you report a loss or theft and block your card, you will receive a new card with a new credit card number.

Can you identify the holder with the credit card number?

A credit card contains a lot of information and features, but for data protection reasons it is not possible to identify the owner using the credit card number alone.

When is my account debited with my payments?

Most credit cards’ payments are debited monthly. That means you will receive a credit card statement every month. Depending on the provider, there is also the option of weekly or two-month billing. With debit credit cards, on the other hand, your stored account is debited directly. Prepaid credit cards only work on a credit basis.

Which credit card details are required when and how?

For on-site payment in a shop, hotel or restaurant, all you need is a signature, which is compared with the signature on the back of your card. You can also need a PIN. This is required to withdraw money with your credit card from ATM machines.

How can I block my credit card?

If you suspect fraud or theft, you should have your credit card blocked as soon as possible. You can have your card blocked free of charge at any time using the central blocking emergency number 116116 (from the German landline network). From abroad you can reach the service on 0049 116 116, this may incur costs.

What are the costs of credit cards?

The bank charges fees for issuing and using the credit card, usually in the form of an annual fee. In addition, your card provider may charge fees for withdrawals and payments abroad (foreign transaction fee) or even for withdrawals from ATMs in Germany (cash fee). Debit interest may also be incurred for the credit line granted, which depends on the issuing bank or savings bank. Many financial institutions offer premium cards with additional services such as bonus programs, insurance and discounts and charge a higher annual fee for them.

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  1. Did you find this page useful? Do you have any further doubts about credit card numbers? Leave a comment, we look forward to reading your feedback!

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