How to tell a credit card from a debit card

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If you’re like my husband and me, we have a thick stack of metal and plastic cards. A mix of both debit and credit.

At a quick glance debit and credit cards are visually similar — same shape and size and all that. But card issuers make it easy to differentiate your credit cards from debit cards. The latter will clearly state “debit” somewhere on the card (almost always the front). If neither the front nor the back stipulates whether it’s credit or debit, it’s likely a credit card, though it’s worth noting that some banks issue a ridiculous ATM card that only works to withdraw money from kiosks — no merchant will accept them.

You can entreat for help in identifying the nature of your card. I’ll walk you through how to use to identify your credit cards from your debit cards.

(Photo by Maxal Tamor/Shutterstock)

How to tell if it’s credit or debit by the card number

Knowing how to identify credit card and debit card numbers isn’t a common skill. When you enter the first six digits on the Binlist website, it’ll identify the card for you.

The site even gives information on the card issuer, type, network, and country! For example, here’s the Binlist entry for a debit card issued by Chase Bank in the U.S.

Debit cards from other countries are also easily identified as debit. Here’s an example of a credit card that Binlist identified as a World Elite Mastercard. 

I’ll note that I ran into issues with American Express cards. Binlist either didn’t return any information at all or identified the card issuer and type correctly, but with incorrect bank and country information.

My Amex Platinum is not issued in Colombia by Banco Popular.

I didn’t encounter any issues with other card issuer brands, so their entries for American Express credit cards seemed more hit and miss. Just FYI.

Binlist works for gift cards

I entered the first six digits from a gift card to see if Binlist would work.

Here’s the entry for a Vanilla Visa card. It’s clearly stated that it’s a prepaid debit card.

Bottom line

Curious how to know if a card is credit or debit? They look quite similar, but debit cards will inform you on either the front or back. You can also type in your debit or credit card number on the Binlist website. It’ll identify the nature of your card when you enter the first six digits of the card number.

Binlist also works to tell if a card is a prepaid debit gift card, but it’s not as consistent at providing information.

Let me know if you’ve had success with Binlist!

Sarah Hostetler is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets. She covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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