What A Credit Card’s First Digit Means

From The Consumerist:

You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their shoes, and likewise, by looking at their credit card’s first digit. This represents the Major Industry Identifier. Here’s the breakdown.

1,2: Airlines
3: Travel/Entertainment
4,5: Banking/Financial
6: Merchandising/Financial
7: Petroleum
8: Telecommunications
0,9: Other


  1. Some call center person once told me that the 5 always starts a Mastercard, and a 4 always starts a Visa.

    Now when someone can rattle off their credit card number by memory, what that means is that they do way too much internet shopping. That would be me.

  2. All Amex’s begin with 3.
    All MC’s begin with 5. Even debit cards.
    All Visa’s begin with 4. Even debit cards.
    All Discover Cards begin with 6.

    Other retailers/gas cars have varying numbering schemes.

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