What is a BIN (Bank Identification Number)?

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What is a BIN? The first 6 numbers on a credit card are referred to as the BIN, which is an acronym for Bank Identification Number. These numbers are also sometimes referred to as the IIN, or Issuer Identification Number.

These numbers – which are on all credit, debit, prepaid, and gift cards – identify the institution that issued the card and the institution’s country.

The BIN system helps online merchants identify identity theft or potential security breaches by comparing the geographic area of the cardholder with the issuer location in the BIN. This protects consumers, merchants, and banks.


The Parts of a BIN

The BIN system was developed by the American National Standards Institute and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

The first digit of the BIN specifies the Major Industry Identifier (MII), such as banking or travel. For example, Visa credit cards all start with a 4, Mastercards start with a 5, petroleum cards start with a 7, and telecommunications cards start with a 8. This digit, along with the following 5 digits, specify the issuing bank or institution.

You can check a BIN online by using an bin checker such as BINcheck.org. This web app allows you to search for a specific BIN or view all BINs by country or by brand. The results page shows the card type, card category, the issuing bank’s name, country, and website URL.


How BINs are Used

The BIN makes possible the authorization process for transactions. For example, when using a card at a gas pump, it scans the BIN to determine where to send the authorization request and the response comes back in just seconds. This process would not work without the BIN system.

The number also allows for faster processing of transactions over the internet. When someone makes an online purchase, the person enters their credit card information on the payment page. Checking the BIN number will tell the retailer which bank issued the card, the brand of the card (Visa, MasterCard…), the card level (corporate, platinum…), the issuing country of the bank, and the card type (credit, gift, debit).

When accepting a card for payment online, the BIN allows merchants to easily tell which organization the money is being transferred from. They can also quickly determine the address and phone number of the bank. Using this information along with the customer’s IP address, the merchant can check whether or not the bank is in the same country as the customer’s device. They can then decline the transaction if fraud is suspected.