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What is a PAN Number or Card Number? [A Guide for Merchants]

MONEI | February 1, 2024
What is a PAN Number or Card Number? [A Guide for Merchants]

Take a credit or debit card out and look at the long card number. Don’t read it aloud, just look! This is the PAN number, sometimes known as a Personal Account Number or Primary Account Number and is 12 to 19 digits long. 

In this article, you’ll learn what a PAN is, what the digits mean, and the benefits of tokenization.

Table of contents

What is a PAN number or card number?

A PAN number is a set of 14 to 19 digits across the front of a credit, debit, virtual, or prepaid card. The digits are not random, they meet the ISO/IEC 7812 standard, which allows both the card and the cardholder to be identified. The number of digits depends on the type of card and card issuer. 

For example, Pan number credit cards from Visa and Mastercard in Spain and across Europe contain 16 digits but American Express in North America uses just 15 digits. If you look back at the original Diners cards, you’ll only see 14 digits for the most part.

PAN vs IBAN: What’s the difference?

PAN and IBAN numbers are not the same but it’s easy to get confused if you’re not aware of the difference. The IBAN identifies the bank account whereas the PAN is the code or number of a card. They’re linked but their combinations are different. 

📌 Pro Tip: Accepting card payments is essential. But it shouldn’t be the only online payment method available on your checkout page. Adding alternative and local payment methods to your online store is crucial, especially if you have (or want to have) international customers. Use MONEI to diversify your payment stack from a single platform.

What does the Personal Account Number mean?

Let’s explore exactly what the Personal Account number means from the first digit to the last:

  • First digit. If your customer’s card number starts with a four, they’re using a VISA, if it starts with a five, they’re using a Mastercard. The first digit, called the major industry identifier (MII) identifies the card issuer, which doesn’t necessarily have to be a bank. For example, MII seven applies to the petroleum industry and the MIIs one and two apply to airlines.
  • First six to eight digits. From one to six digits, including the first digit, you’re seeing the issuer identification number (IIN), which displays the specific bank or financial institution that issued the card. Earlier cards had six digits but recently issued cards have eight.
  • The rest of the digits. The final digit is called the “check digit” or the “check sum” number, which makes sure the card number is accurate. Everything else from the IIN to the last digit identifies the particular cardholder, whether that’s an individual, or a business.

The benefits of tokenizing PAN numbers in e-commerce

Tokenizing PAN numbers replaces sensitive data with a non-sensitive equivalent, known as a token. As you’ve learned, PAN numbers identify issuers and cardholders, so to be extra secure, payment gateways, like MONEI, use tokenization to collect credit card information and prevent data theft.

Tokenization helps to streamline PCI compliance for e-commerce businesses and that’s strengthened further when you use a PCI compliant payment service provider, like MONEI. It also adds security from mobile wallet payments, helps you to build trust with customers, and gives you the ability to accept recurring or subscription payments.

💡 Conversion Rate Optimization Tip: Payment methods like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Click to Pay all use tokenization to securely store customers’ sensitive payment information. This way, they can quickly check out without ever sharing their card details with a business. Sign up for MONEI to accept these popular digital wallets and increase conversions. 

Use MONEI to tokenize PAN numbers

Once you understand PAN numbers, you also understand why it’s important to keep them secure. Doing so keeps you and your customers’ information secure too. That’s why using a PCI DSS compliant payment gateway like MONEI is the best way to look after your business transactions and accept multiple payment options.

PAN number FAQ

Where can I find my PAN?

Your customers’ PAN numbers are a unique number embossed across the front of a card. It can be anywhere from 14 to 19 digits long, depending on the issuer. Visa numbers start with a 4 and Mastercard numbers start with a 5.

What is your card number?

Your customer’s card number is also known as their PAN number. It’s usually 16 digits long in Spain but the number of digits varies worldwide. The numbers aren’t random, they display the issuer information and cardholder information.

What does CVV mean?

CVV stands for Card Verification Value. It’s usually a three digit number located on the front of a card but it’s not to be confused with the PAN number or card number, which is a 12-19 digit number that identifies the card issuer and cardholder.


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