What is a credit card CVV or CVC number?

A CVV or CVC is a security number that's printed on your credit card and is usually needed when you shop online. Here’s how it works.

We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!

If you're using your credit card to make a payment online or over the phone, you'll usually be asked for the name on your card, the card number, expiration date and something called your CVC or CVV number.

Also known as a security code, this number is printed on your card and used to help protect your account from fraudulent transactions. Let's take a look at how it works and where you'll find your card's CVV.

What is a CVV or CVC number?

A CVV number (or card verification value) or CVC (card verification code) is a 3- or 4-digit number on your credit card or debit card that helps prevent fraud. It's used to verify transactions when you're making a payment and don't need to enter a PIN or use a card reader as you would in a store.

If you have a Visa or Mastercard credit card or debit card, the CVV will be a 3-digit number on the back of your card. If you have an American Express card, the CVV will be a 4-digit number found on the front of your card.

credit card cvv

When do I need to provide my credit card CVV?

The CVV is used to verify card transactions when you're not using your card in-person (sometimes known as card-not-present transactions). Below are some of the most common situations when you could be asked for your card's CVV:

  • Shopping online. Most online payment forms will ask you to provide your CVV when you're entering your card details.
  • Making phone payments. If you're paying a business over the phone, you will sometimes be asked for the CVV. But it does depend on the way the business has set up its payment system (not all of them require the CVV).
  • Adding a card to your mobile wallet. When you add a card to a mobile wallet, such as Google Pay, you'll need to provide the CVV along with all the other card details.

In these situations, the CVV helps protect you (and the business) from fraudulent transactions because the CVV or CVC number is printed on your actual card – which means you need to have the card to enter the number.

Card security tip

If your card is lost or stolen and you haven't reported it, anyone could use the CVV and other details on your card to make online purchases or phone payments without your permission. That's why it's important you contact your card issuer immediately if your card is lost or stolen.

How do I find my CVV code?

Your card's security code is usually found on either the front or the back of your card. If you've misplaced your card, you may be able to contact your bank issuer to confirm the code or get a replacement card.

If you only have a virtual credit card, the CVV details will be included in your account or the app.

Is a CVV or CVC number called anything else?

Different credit card companies, online payment platforms and businesses sometimes use other terms for the CVV or CVC. This includes:

  • CVC2
  • CVV2
  • CCV
  • Card Security Code
  • CID
  • CID2

Despite these different names, the codes all serve the same function and are used as a standardised security measure.

In the case of "contactless" cards there is generally a chip involved which supplies its own electronically generated series of codes. They are called Dynamic CVV or iCVV.

Are CVV or CVC numbers the same as my PIN?

No, your CVV number is different to the PIN that you use for in-person transactions. When you shop at a store or withdraw money from an ATM, you'll enter a PIN but never need to provide your CVV. When you shop online, it's the other way around.

Ready to shop online? Check out how to shop online safely with your credit card and take a look at some of the latest deals to help you grab a bargain.

Picture: Shutterstock, Infographic: finder.

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.

26 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    GraceNovember 8, 2017

    Hi, I was asking a question about the what is CVC number for the student at high school?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RenchNovember 8, 2017Staff

      Hi Grace,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Your CVV number (or card verification value) or CVC (card verification code) on your credit card or debit card is a three or four-digit number on your card. If you have a Visa or Mastercard branded credit or debit card, it’ll be a 3 digit number located on the back of your card. If you’re using an American Express issued card, the CVV will be a four-digit number found on the front of your card.

      It’s the same with student credit cards. You can also have a look on this page for student credit cards that you can compare.

      Cheers,
      Rench

    Default Gravatar
    RolexJune 25, 2017

    I have the card number and expiry date and my card name also I need cvv number

      Default Gravatar
      danielle.valino@findercrew.comJune 25, 2017

      Hi Rolex,

      Thank you for contacting finder.com.au. We are a comparison website and general information service, we’re more than happy to offer general advice.

      If you have a Visa or Mastercard branded credit or debit card, The CVV number will be a 3 digit number located on the back of your card. If you’re using an American Express issued card, the CVV will be a four-digit number found on the front of your card.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

    Default Gravatar
    SonicfanApril 21, 2017

    I activated my American Express card and my tax refund is currently on there , I went to the bank to withdraw money and it said enter a pin and they never gave me a pin . Do I use the 4 digit number on front of the card or the 3 digit on the back as my pin ?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      HaroldApril 21, 2017Staff

      Hi Sonicfan,

      Thank you for you inquiry.

      Actually, no, your CVV or CVC number is different to the PIN code you use to make ATM withdrawals or with EFTPOS transactions in-store. On the other hand, your CVC or CVV number is used for verifying online or over the phone payments when you can’t use your PIN or signature. It would be nice to coordinate with AMEX as they have the direct access to your account.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

    Default Gravatar
    Annoyed&confusedMay 7, 2016

    I have an online account to download games. My credit/debit card expired. I did not update my details and assumed that the company would not be able to access my funds anymore. I had free credits which I can’t use because I use an iPad now and it redirects me to the App Store and it requests payment with no option to use the credits I paid for. Which is why I did not shut down the account. I don’t get notified in my debit account about credit card payments and I can’t add my other card to the ANZ app and my money hasn’t been adding up. I have a new card and CVV is a new one also and there is no expiry date on my file with this company.

    Why is someone able to take money from my credit card with invalid information and no CVV? It’s added up to around $100ish that should have been rejected. I am contacting the company in question also. It seems fraudulent to me. I thought that these were the security measures taken to ensure my online security.

    Thanks.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayMay 11, 2016Staff

      Hi Annoyed&confused,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      Unfortunately, especially these days, whether we do a transaction in person or online using our debit/credit cards, we can’t really say that we are 100% safe from fraud and theft. Yes, you are correct, your card’s CVV should or hopefully protect your account from those who would misuse your credit by any means possible. So it is important that we are vigilant and extra careful whenever we use our card or enter our account and security number to make any transaction.

      For any transaction on your account that you deemed fraudulent, it is a better idea to report them to your card company/bank so they could do necessary action on how to protect your account.

      Cheers,
      May

    Default Gravatar
    JohMarch 22, 2016

    Do I have to give a company my CV number if they are crediting my account with a refund? I say no and wont do it but a few places have said they need it and i have refused. Help please

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      SharonMarch 23, 2016Staff

      Hi Joh, thanks for your inquiry.

      Even though the CCV number can be given through the phone/entered in a form, if it does not have a field to enter the number, it is recommended only to provide these details if the merchant is certified and trusted. If the CCV number is given to the wrong parties the card may be used fraudulently.

      Cheers,

      Sharon

Go to site