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.
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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.
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:
- Card Security Code
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.
Picture: Shutterstock, Infographic: finder.
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