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I recently got an AmEx credit card and it seems a bit different than all the other cards I'm used to.

  1. Instead of 4 groups of 4 digits, the card number is 15 grouped in 4, 6, and 5. I'm not sure if this is normal or if there's a digit missing that I'm supposed to memorize or get from somewhere else.
  2. There's a 4-digit code on the front of the card and a 3-digit code on the back which aren't related (the 3-digit one isn't part of the 4-digit one). I'm not sure which one of these is my verification code.

Is there a reason for these to be different?

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The main reason is because American Express was not a bank, like Chase or Discover. Amex used to only issue "Travel and Entertainment" cards, mainly to businesses and very rich individuals that traveled a lot. The number on your Visa, Discover, etc. card has to reference a bank number as well as an account number. The Amex card only references an account number. The 4-digit number on the front is simply their way of verifying that the card is valid, they still have the CVV number on the back.

Amex does have a banking side, with savings accounts and such. But the cards are a relic of the travel charge card days.

More info in this Quora answer.

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