Take a good look at your credit card -- there's a lot going on. Here's what it all means.
Account number: The big series of numbers that spans the center of your credit card is your account number.
Major Industry Identifier: The 1st digit in your account number refers to the category of business that issued your card (1 and 2 are airlines, 3 is travel and entertainment, 4 and 5 are banking and financial, 6 is merchandizing and banking, 7 is petroleum, 8 is telecommunications, and 9 is national assignment)
Issuer Identification Number: The first 6 digits are called the Issuer Identification Number which identifies the institution that issued the card (Visa starts with 4xxxxx, Mastercard with 5xxxxx, Discover with 6xxxxx, and Amex with 3xxxxx). Merchants and banks can use the Issuer Identification Number to look up a card.
Final digit: The last digit in your account number is generated using something called the Luhn algorithm. This is a mathematical formula used as a security precaution by confirming the previous digits in the account number sequence. This prevents casual attempts at generating fake credit card account numbers.
Issuing bank logo: Most credit cards display the logo of the bank that actually issued your card. This can be confusing because your relationship may be with the bank that does the processing of your payment, not the one who lends you money (the issuing bank).
Card brand logo: Logos of credit card processors like Visa or Mastercard show up on your credit card.
Cardholder name: This is the name of the person, business, or organization to which the credit card is issued.
Hologram: Credit card manufacturers frequently include some type of hologram to identify a card against counterfeits.
Expiration date: This is the period through which your credit card is valid. Usually, it's a month and a year -- occasionally includes a day of the month.
Card Verification Value: This is a three-digit number (four for Amex) that appears on the back of a credit card, usually in the signature line. Because this number doesn't appear anywhere else on the card, businesses use this to ensure that the owner of the card is in possession of the card when making a purchase over the phone or online.
Source: Quora, digital inspiration, University of New Brunswick