What Is the Account Number on a Debit Card?

Ashley Ferraro, Consumer Operations
Jul 21, 2023
 • 
10
 Min Read

According to the 2021 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, U.S. consumers make 60% of their transactions with payment cards (debit, credit, or prepaid). Despite the popularity of these payment methods, many users are not familiar with card-related terminology, including the meaning of numbers on payment cards.

One of the most common questions card users ask is—“What is the account number on a debit card?”.

This guide will explain the meaning behind all the numbers on your debit card. You will also learn about the safety measures necessary to protect your cards when shopping online.

What Is a Debit Card Account Number?

The account number on a debit card technically refers to the 16-digit primary account number (PAN), the unique card identifier located on the front of the card. However, PAN is not a common term in consumer circles. Users typically call it the debit card number, and it is used to make purchases online or at point-of-sale (POS) terminals.

Card numbers identify the card issuer and the associated user account. The table below presents what each sequence of the debit card number means:

Card Number Sequence
What It Represents
Meaning
First 6–8 digits

Bank Identification Number (BIN)

The initial six to eight digits of a debit card help identify the issuing bank. The first digit in the sequence represents the card network, such as Mastercard® or Visa.® 
Digits 7–15 (typically) Unique Account Number This set of digits is related to your bank account number. It helps the card network identify and connect to your particular account to withdraw funds.
The 16th digit Checksum The last digit in the sequence determines whether the card is valid.
A close-up photo of a chip-enabled black Mastercard payment card

Source: Kaysha

Is the Debit Card Number the Same as the Bank Account Number?

While a debit card number is associated with your checking account, it is not your bank account number.

A bank account number is a unique sequence of digits (can be alphanumeric) assigned to any user opening an account with the bank. It generally consists of 8–12 digits, but an Automated Clearing House (ACH)-enabled bank can issue account numbers of up to 17 digits[1]. Below is the standard account number length for different banks:

Bank
Account Number Length
Chase Bank 9
Bank of America
12
Wells Fargo
10 or 11
US Bank
10 or 12
HSBC 12


A bank account number acts as the principal identifier that tells processing algorithms to extract or deposit money for a specific customer. While digits 7–15 on a debit card are linked to your bank account number and help move funds when requested, these numbers are independent of each other. 

A debit card is linked to one bank account, but you can typically request more than one debit card attached to a single checking account. The following table summarizes the differences between debit card and bank account numbers:

Aspect
Debit Card Number
Bank Account Number
Goal Identifies a particular card
Identifies the checking account
Permanency May change when a new card is issued, depending on the replacement reason
Remains the same as long as the customer operates the account
Length
16 digits 8–12 digits
Number structure
Follows a standard structure internationally
Depends on the issuing bank[2]

Is the Bank Account Number on the Debit Card? Where Can You Find It?

Debit and credit cards typically don’t display the user’s account number for security reasons. You can locate this piece of info by:

  1. Checking your bank statement—Your bank account number may appear on bank statements (including e-statements) under an appropriate label (like Account Number, Customer ID, or similar). It’s usually toward the top-right, before the main table outlining withdrawals and deposits.
  2. Logging in to the bank’s website or app—If you have enabled internet or mobile banking, log in to your customer account to check your account number. Depending on the platform, the number can be displayed on the homepage or accessible under tabs such as Account Information, Settings, or similar.
  3. Checking the paper checks (if provided)—Most paper checks display three sets of numbers at the bottom[3]: The nine digits to the left are your bank routing number, the middle set of digits is your bank account number, and the digits to the right represent the check serial number.
  4. Contacting your bank—Considering the sensitive nature of the request, be prepared to provide a government-issued ID or answer some security questions first.

Source: Kampus Production

Protecting Your Bank Account and Debit Card Numbers—Risks and Solutions

Protecting bank and card data has become increasingly complicated with time as criminals have developed new and advanced ways to hack into users’ accounts.

According to a 2022 report released by the Federal Trade Commission, customers lost almost $8.8 billion to fraud throughout the year—a 30% jump from 2021 figures. Out of the 2.4 million fraud reports, 1.1 million were related to identity theft.

Below are the most frequently used techniques to extract bank account and debit card numbers:

  • Phishing schemes—Phishing is a common social engineering tactic used by scammers to trick you into revealing your financial data. The fraudsters may pretend to be a bank representative over the phone and ask you for your card number or security code. They may also send emails or texts pretending to be a trusted or familiar organization and prompt you to share your bank account information.
  • Gaining access to your online account using malware—Malware is typically distributed via email and may compromise your personal, business, and financial data if downloaded on your device. For example, Xenomorph[4], a newly created Android malware, can help criminals steal one-time codes and access your funds remotely. You should exercise caution online and never download suspicious files or attachments from a website or email you don’t trust.
  • Buying your card data from the dark webStolen payment card data went for anywhere between $20 and $120 on the dark web in 2021. The information is typically acquired by breaching e-commerce websites that store users’ personal and financial data.

To mitigate the risk of your debit or credit card numbers being stolen by hackers, start masking your real payment information with virtual cards.

Use Virtual Cards and Protect Your Banking Information Online

Virtual cards are unique, randomly generated 16-digit numbers with their own expiration dates and CVV codes. They are connected to an actual funding source (such as your bank account or debit card) but hide your real card or bank information from the merchant. In case of a security breach on the merchant's website, the hacker can only access your virtual card number while your real card or bank data remains protected. 

Virtual cards can be for one-time or multiple use, depending on your virtual card provider. While many banks and independent providers offer virtual cards, you should choose a service that enables extensive control of your finances, like Privacy.

Source: Jonas Leupe

Mask Your Bank or Debit Card Details—Try Privacy Virtual Cards

Request a Privacy Virtual Card to minimize the exposure of your bank information on vendors’ websites. With a Privacy Card, your real financial data:

  • Is never revealed to or stored on the merchant’s website
  • Remains hidden from the merchant during the payment process

Privacy offers two types of virtual cards:

1. Merchant-Locked Cards—Privacy’s Merchant-Locked Cards lock to the first merchant they’re used at, ensuring they can’t be used at other vendors if stolen. Merchant-Locked Cards are suitable for:

  1. Merchants you regularly shop at
  2. Recurring transactions
  3. Subscriptions

2. Single-Use Cards—These cards close after a single transaction, so a potential thief wouldn’t be able to misuse them

If you frequently shop online, install Privacy’s Google Chrome or Firefox extension for a fast and seamless checkout experience. The browser extension auto-populates your virtual card numbers into the designated field during checkout and allows you to create new cards on the spot, eliminating the need to search for your wallet or memorize card numbers. In case you shop on your smartphone, download Privacy’s Android or iOS app to generate new virtual cards on the go and keep track of your transactions wherever you are.

With Privacy, You’re Always in Control

Privacy offers features to control and manage your spending. Below are some of the benefits of using Privacy Cards:

Benefit
Details
Keep your spending on track
You can customize a Privacy Card with a monthly, yearly, or per-transaction spending limit. The feature can prevent a vendor from overcharging you. You can share your virtual card with a close family member and ensure they won’t spend over the designated limit since you remain in control of the card settings.
Get real-time transaction alerts
Privacy has an internal fraud detection system that sends out email or push notifications whenever a virtual card is used or declined. You can monitor all transactions from a single, centralized Privacy dashboard.
Close, pause, and unpause your virtual cards
Once you’ve set up your Privacy account, you can close, pause, and unpause cards without the action affecting your actual bank account or debit card. Use this feature if you suspect there was a fraudulent attempt with your virtual card or want to stop unwanted subscription charges. Note that Privacy will decline the charges, but you need to cancel the subscription directly with the merchant.
Integrate with 1Password You can take advantage of the integration with 1Password, a leading password manager, to store your passwords and other financial data in an encrypted vault.


Being a BBB®-accredited virtual-card-issuing company, Privacy maintains PCI compliance and is regularly audited for its data security practices.

A focused shot of a smartphone next to two payment cards

Source: CardMapr.nl

Here’s How To Request Privacy Cards

Privacy Cards are currently accessible to most U.S. residents over 18 with a bank account or a debit card. Follow these steps to start using Privacy:

  1. Visit the signup page
  2. Enter government-mandated KYC information
  3. Link your bank account or debit card
  4. Request and generate a Privacy Card

The platform lets you create 12 new virtual cards each month on its base tier, but if you want additional cards and cashback perks, switch to the Pro ($10/month) or Premium ($25/month) plan.

References

[1] Chase. https://www.chase.com/personal/banking/education/basics/bank-account-number, sourced May 2023
[2] Stack Overflow. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1540285/united-states-banking-institution-account-number-regular-expression, October 24, 2017
[3] Ben Luthi. Experian. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/what-is-the-difference-between-routing-and-account-numbers/, May 26, 2021
[4] Bill Toulas. BleepingComputer. https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/xenomorph-android-malware-now-steals-data-from-400-banks/, March 10, 2023

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