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How To Identify and Understand the Debit Card Number—Experts Explain

Ashley Ferraro, Product
Aug 26, 2023
 Min Read

Consumers have long benefited from debit cards, which enable users to access funds from their bank accounts electronically. Many consumers favor them over credit cards because debit cards don't accumulate debt. According to a Forbes Advisor’s 2023 Banking Survey, 57% of Americans prefer to use a debit card as their primary payment method.

Despite the popularity, some users need clarification regarding debit card online payments.

If you care to learn more about this payment method, keep reading to answer the following questions:

  • What is a debit card number?
  • How do you find your debit card number?
  • What precautions should you take when using a debit card online?

What Is the Card Number on a Debit Card?

A standard debit, credit, or prepaid card has a unique, typically 16-digit number that serves as its primary identifier. The card number is crucial because it establishes the link between the customer's checking account and the issuing bank or entity.

Source: Monstera

Card numbers are not random but created using a particular issuer-specific algorithm or format to store crucial information about your account and enable the verification process during payments. We have explained how debit card numbers are structured in the following table:

Debit Card Number—Parts
Digit 1 The first digit of a debit card number represents the major industry identifier (MII). It reveals the category of the card issuer, such as banks, card networks, airlines, or the government. Here are the first digits used by common brands:
- Mastercard®–2 or 5.
- Visa®–4.
- American Express®–3.
Digits 2–6 (or sometimes 8)
The subsequent five or seven digits represent the financial institution tied to the debit card. Together with the MII, the first six or eight digits of the card depict the Issuer Identification Number, or more commonly, the . BINs help merchants verify card payments and detect fraudulent, fake, or stolen cards.
Digits 7–15 (typically)
These digits are linked to your specific bank account number. Issued by the card network (like Visa), they enable the withdrawal of funds from your account. Every new or replacement card typically has newly generated numbers.
The last digit
The last number of your card is the “check digit,” which serves to verify the card's validity. It also ensures the number entered during checkout is error-free.

Where To Find Your Debit Card Number

You can usually find your debit card number printed or embossed on the front of the card, commonly around the center. Other essential card info is the:

  1. Expiration date—includes a month and a year, usually printed below the card number.
  2. CVV or security code—typically a 3-digit code in the signature panel at the back of your card.

Although a new concept, many banks have started issuing numberless cards without visible card data. These cards have a smart chip holding the information required for POS transactions. The user has to authenticate payments with the help of a one-time PIN, usually generated via the issuer-specific app. The numberless card is yet to be universally accepted as its usage for online or phone-based purchases remains challenging.

A shot of a yellow, numberless, and chip-enabled payment card with Business written on the top-right

Source: Markus Winkler

How To Find Your Debit Card Number Without the Card

If you lose your debit card or the card is stolen, there are three potential ways to find your card number:

  1. Checking your card number online
  2. Browsing through bank statements
  3. Calling the bank or debit card company

Checking Your Card Number Online

The likelihood of finding your debit card number online largely depends on the services enabled by your card provider. Most banks and financial institutions offer web- or app-based digital banking portals with numerous features, including checking your card number. You’ll need to activate or enable online banking on your account to access these services.

Card details are often located under tabs like Account Details, Card Settings, or similar, but many banks do not display the full card number online for security reasons. It will be easier to find your card number if your bank offers a digital debit card, an electronic version of your actual card. Digital cards display the exact numbers and security codes as those printed on their physical counterparts. 

Note that digital cards are not the same as virtual cards. Virtual cards are linked to your physical debit card or bank account but have unique 16-digit numbers and accompanying data. They are created to mask your actual financial information on merchant websites, enhancing your safety and protecting you from online card theft and cyber fraud.

Browsing Through Bank Statements

If you don’t have access to an online method of finding your debit card number, your next best solution is to check your bank statements. Most banks send password-locked bank statements to your registered email ID periodically. Alternatively, you can also request one online or by visiting a branch.

Bank statements usually show your debit card number and the account details mentioned at the top, but they may also display partial numbers only (like XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-9999) for privacy.

Calling the Bank or Debit Card Company

Calling your bank to get the card number is not as straightforward a solution as it may seem. Banks have stringent security protocols, so it is unlikely that a representative will dictate the number over the phone.

In general, you need to report that your card was lost or stolen. This action typically leads to the bank canceling your card and issuing a replacement. We recommend calling your bank immediately if you suspect card-related financial fraud or theft to minimize financial losses.

A blurry shot of a man in a dress suit holding a highlighter pen and checking out documents

Source: RDNE Stock project

Using Debit Cards—Potential Risks and Smart Precaution Measures

There is only so much you can do to find your debit card number if you lose the card, so you should keep your card safe.

You should also be discerning when using your debit cards online. While they are practical for completing instant e-commerce transactions, you must take extra steps to secure your sensitive financial information.

Debit card numbers shared online are vulnerable to data breaches, which involve fraudsters stealing payment data from merchant websites. Many large enterprises, including Doordash and Shein, suffered from data breaches that led to full or partial leakage of card data in 2022.

Compromised cards increase the risk of identity theft and card fraud. Luckily, the solution is straightforward—use virtual cards instead of physical cards.

Virtual cards are temporary card credentials linked to a funding source, such as your bank account or debit card. The card helps process online payments without revealing your real card number. Even if a virtual card is compromised due to a security breach, a hacker wouldn’t have access to your bank or debit card details.

Additionally, some virtual card services allow users to customize their temporary cards with a budget limit and frequency of use within a specific period.

Use Privacy Virtual Cards To Make Debit Card Payments Safer

If you shop online frequently, consider getting a Privacy Virtual Card.

Privacy is a reliable virtual card provider allowing users to efficiently generate, manage, and use virtual cards for additional online payment safety. These cards have an automatically generated 16-digit card number, expiration date, and security code from the Mastercard or Visa network, which helps prevent your real banking data from being exposed. Privacy Cards are accepted by most online retailers and service providers that support U.S. card payments.

To help protect from data breaches, Privacy offers two types of cards:

Card Type Benefit
Merchant-Locked Card
A Merchant-Locked Card can be used multiple times with the same merchant. Privacy will decline any request to use the card with another merchant, preventing misuse if the card is compromised.
Single-Use Card A Single-Use Card will close automatically after the first transaction, rendering any subsequent purchase with the same credentials impossible. This is also beneficial in case an unauthorized third party accesses your virtual card details, as they will be unable to misuse them

A Single-Use Card will close automatically after the first transaction, rendering any subsequent purchase with the same credentials impossible. This is also beneficial in case an unauthorized third party accesses your virtual card details, as they will be unable to misuse them

If you’re looking to secure personal or business transactions online without sacrificing convenience—Privacy can help. The BBB®-accredited company offers browser extensions (for Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari) to speed up the checkout time. The browser extension auto-populates your virtual card number at checkout, so you don’t have to reach for your wallet or type in card numbers.

If you frequently shop on your phone, install Privacy’s Android or iOS apps to create, store, and manage virtual cards on your smartphone.


Enjoy Full Control and Customization With Privacy

Besides providing ease of setup and use, Privacy offers multiple features to tailor cards to your liking. For example, you can:

  • Set spending limits—Setting spending limits on your virtual card serves many purposes. You can share the card with your child, ensuring they don’t spend more than the designated amount. The limit also allows you to ensure a merchant can’t debit you for more than you’ve agreed to.
  • Close and pause the card instantly—You can close or pause a Privacy Card to decline unauthorized payments associated with the card. It’s a pretty practical feature if an unwanted subscription service keeps charging you. Note that while Privacy will block the unwanted charges, you must reach out to the merchant directly to cancel the subscription.

With Privacy’s mobile app, you have a 24/7 overview of your account thanks to a centralized card management dashboard and push notifications. Every time a card is charged or declined, you will get an alert promptly.

Create your first Privacy Card to see how the service works—here’s what to do:

  1. Go to the Sign Up page
  2. Enter the required Know-Your-Customer (KYC) details
  3. Link your debit card or bank account
  4. Request your Privacy Card

You can create multiple Privacy Cards to maintain your shopping habits. If you’re a frequent spender, we recommend choosing the service’s Pro or Teams plans that offer cashback rewards—find the pricing here.

How Safe Is Privacy?

Privacy’s card service is built around security, so you can expect the same safety protocols as those used by the most reliable banks and financial services. The company is PCI and SOC 2 Type II compliant and undergoes regular audits to ensure rigorous security standards are followed.

To broaden your online security toolkit, you can integrate Privacy with 1Password for free. The integration helps you store passwords and financial data in a single, secure platform. Create your Privacy account to get started.

Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
Sign Up
Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
Sign Up
Privacy virtual cards
Spending Limits

Set a spending limit, and Privacy will block all charges that go over the limit

Merchant-Locked Cards

Lock your Privacy card to one merchant you frequently shop from

Single-Use Cards

Secure your one-time payments to websites whose trust worthiness you're unsure of

Pause/Close Cards

By pausing or closing a card, Privacy will block all future transactions

Get a Privacy Card Now
Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
Sign Up
Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Sign Up