Bank Identification Number (BIN)

BIN is an acronym for Bank Identification Number.
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What Is a Bank Identification Number (BIN)?

A BIN, or bank identification number, is a series of digits that identifies an issuing or acquiring bank.

BINs Explained

The term refers to the first 4 to 6 numbers that appear on a bank card. This set of 4 to 6 numbers identifies the specific institution (typically a bank) that issued that card, and is used to match card transactions to the card issuer.

When referring to cards, the BIN system applies to credit cards, debit cards, prepaid cards, charge cards, electronic benefit cards & even gift cards.

In the merchant processing industry, the BIN system applies to the first few numbers of your Merchant ID Number (MID). It indicates which acquiring bank is issuing your merchant account.

Issuing and acquiring banks both have a bank identification number. Issuing banks are the banks that issue credit cards to consumers. The first four to six digits of a credit card number are that bank’s BIN. 

For merchants, your merchant account provider will assign a merchant account number or merchant ID number. The first several digits that make up this number are your acquiring bank’s BIN. 

An acquiring bank is also called a member bank or sponsor bank. It’s not the same as your credit card processor or merchant account provider. However, your acquiring bank works with those parties to provide processing services. This bank has a unique BIN, just like all other banks.

BINs facilitate the card payment process by providing information about the card and the merchant. During an online transaction, the first few digits of the customer’s card help the retailer’s website detect what bank issued the card. 

The BIN also provides information about the card itself. It could be a rewards card, a prepaid or gift card, or a corporate card. All these details relate to the interchange fees the merchant will pay for processing the transaction. 

The first digit of any payment card number is called an MII or Major Industry Identifier. An MII of 4 or 5 indicates an Issuer Category of Banking and Financial Cards. 

Visa credit and debit cards begin with a 4. Most Mastercard BINs start with a 5, although in 2017, banks began issuing Mastercard's numbers beginning with a 2. The purpose of the change was to expand the card brand’s BIN range. 

American Express and Diners Club cards begin with an MII of 3, while Discover BINs begin with a 6.

BIN Example

If you have a credit or debit card, look at it now to see an example of a BIN. 

Card numbers are often embossed on the front of the card. Sometimes they are printed on the front or back of the card. The first four to six digits of your card number are the BIN.

If you have a Chase Visa card and you’re in the U.S., for example, the first four digits of your card number might be 4262. The 4 indicates a Visa card. The next two digits after 4262 will vary because Chase has several different BINs. 

If the first six digits of your card are 426245, that number is your BIN.

Do you have a Chase Visa card that you use for work purchases? The first six digits of that card might be 455955, which is one of Chase’s corporate BINs.  For a Chase Visa Debit card, your BIN could be 406032. 

While large banks usually have a range of BINs, smaller banks and credit unions might only have one or two BINs. 

Do you have a business with a merchant account or payment processing account? If so, you can also see an example of an acquiring bank BIN. Look at your processing statement and locate your merchant account number or merchant ID number. The first few digits are your acquiring bank’s BIN. 

Here’s an example of how BINs work during a transaction. Imagine you’re using your credit card to make a purchase online.

When you’re ready to check out, you enter your card number into the merchant’s site. Your card’s BIN tells the merchant’s processor who to send the authorization request to. 

Your issuing bank knows you have enough funds and your card is in good standing, and they approve the transaction. 

Later, your bank sends the money for the transaction to the merchant’s acquiring bank, using their BIN to identify them correctly.


Fun facts about Bank Identification Numbers (BIN)

  • Each number on a credit card indicates what type of card it is.
  • The 1st digit indicates what type of card it is (4 = VISA, 5 = MasterCard, 6 = Discover, 3 = AMEX).
  • You can use BIN to identify which bank the card is from, for example a card starting with 426266 is always a Chase VISA card.
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