What is a Credit Card CVV / CVC Number?

What the 3 digits on the back of your card mean and how they're used to protect your finances.

If you're using your credit card to make a purchase online or over the phone, you'll usually be asked to provide the name on your card, the account number, expiration date and something called your CCV or CVC number. These three or four digits are located on the back of your card and are used to help secure your finances when using your card. Use this guide to find out what these numbers mean, what they're used for and how they help protect your credit card.

What is a CVV or CVC number?

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.

Finder Task Work

The CVV is an anti-fraud measure used when you're making a purchase but aren't required to enter a PIN or sign a receipt. This is why you're often asked to enter your CVV number if you're shopping online or making a purchase over the phone. This is so the merchant or payee can verify that you are indeed the cardholder and to avoid people using your card for fraudulent transactions.

As the CVV or CVC number is only printed on your card, it's important that you keep your card safe and secure. If your card is lost or stolen, anyone could use the card to make online purchases or over the phone transactions without your permission. If this does happen, contact your card issuer immediately to cancel the card and keep an eye on your statement to report any fraudulent transactions. The CVV or CVC number is considered a Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which is commonly used technology which is a digitally provided certification process.

Is a CVV or CVC number called anything else?

The credit card CVC and credit card CCV numbers are sometimes called different things depend on the credit card network or credit card company its issues through. For example, Mastercard calls the code CVC2, American Express refers to it as CID, Discover calls their code CID2, and Visa has dubbed it CVV2. 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 or CVC number is different to the PIN code you use to make ATM withdrawals of 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.

While the CVV or CVC number is in place to protect your credit card from fraudulent transactions or phishing scams when using your card for online or phone transactions, it's important to know that there are still chances that your credit card could still come victim to a scam. That's why it's important to only use your credit card on secure sites and keep track of your credit card statement to spot any suspicious transactions. If you do come across one, make sure to contact your bank immediately to report the issue and protect your finances. See our guide on how to shop online safely for more tips to protect your credit card.

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22 Responses to What is a Credit Card CVV / CVC Number?

  1. Default Gravatar
    Elijah | April 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 ?

    • Staff
      Harold | April 21, 2017

      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.


  2. Default Gravatar
    Annoyed&confused | May 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.


    • Staff
      May | May 11, 2016

      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.


  3. Default Gravatar
    Joh | March 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

    • Staff
      Sharon | March 23, 2016

      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.



  4. Default Gravatar
    graham | March 22, 2016

    I was checking out overseas hotel online and filled out booking details, including credit card number. I did not give expiry date or ccv , nor did i hit the highlighted reserve block, I decided hotel , for several reasons, was not best choice. As I had not completed the booking, I just exited the site , without deleting the card number. Hotel went ahead and charged my Visa with no cancellation policy. Is this allowed????

    • Staff
      Sally | March 31, 2016

      Hi Graham,

      Without knowing which hotel you were with and their policy, it’s hard to confirm whether you have a case to contest this.

      Instead, it might be best to get in touch with the hotel again and your credit card issuer to see what your options are. If you hadn’t confirmed the booking, hopefully you can receive a refund.



  5. Default Gravatar
    issac | March 9, 2016

    I have a save card for my account but I don’t know my cvv or CVC,where is it located on my card,i.e, the normal Westpac saving card?

    • Staff
      Ysa | March 9, 2016

      Hi Isaac,

      Thanks for your question.
      If your card is issued by Visa or MasterCard, you’ll find the three-digit security code (usually printed on the signature panel) on the back of the card, immediately after the card number.

      However, if your card does not have the CVV number, it would be best to speak directly with your card issuer.

      I hope this helps.


  6. Default Gravatar
    Jay | September 24, 2015

    Hi there

    I am concerned by the growing number of businesses that request your CCV when filling in a form.

    My understanding is the CCV is extra security to prevent fraud and that by writing it down with your credit card numbers you are enabling fraud to occur.

    I’m particularly referring to restaurants or hire places tat record your details then likely have it on a hard copy form or keep it in their (most likely unsecure) database.

    I usually refuse to provide it and try to educate merchants that the CCV is only required to verify internet transactions and is not to be recorded separately especially not on a piece of paper!

    Am I right? If so, we need to do a better job educating merchants – banks in particular need to clarify the situation.


    • Staff
      Jonathan | September 25, 2015

      Hi Jay, thanks for your inquiry!

      Credit card issuers and banks have fraud protection policies that cover you in such instances when your credit card details have been misused. It is ideal to be well versed across the fraud protection that your credit issuer offers to know what action to take and exactly what you are covered for.



  7. Default Gravatar
    Tara | August 21, 2015

    I have a freedom card (debit card) and I don’t know where the ccv number is and it’s not on the back?

    • Staff
      Sally | August 21, 2015

      Hi Tara,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      If your debit card doesn’t have the CVV number on the back of it, you’ll need to contact the bank directly.



  8. Default Gravatar
    What | February 24, 2015

    I filled out an order form with card details. Never had boxes for ccv Number. Then I get a phone call from them asking for my ccv Number? Have never had to give for other Payments. Though they are ordering a product for us this time. Feel uncomfortable about giving it? What should I do?

    • Staff
      Jonathan | February 25, 2015

      Hi, thanks for your inquiry!

      Even though the CCV number can be entered through the phone if the website 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.



  9. Default Gravatar
    Sherra | February 19, 2015

    The CVC number is always asked when making online purchases. Does it mean that without giving your CVC number the card will not be charged? I have made a hotel reservation that allows me to do the booking and pay during my stay but i still have to give my credit card details without the CVC. Thanks.

    • Staff
      Jonathan | February 19, 2015

      Hi Sherra, thanks for your inquiry!

      A CVC is a security measure for your credit card, both numbers (credit card number and CVC) are required for online purchases.



  10. Default Gravatar
    James | February 5, 2015

    Make me a CVC code number I want it to be XXXX

    • Staff
      Jonathan | February 5, 2015

      Hi James, thanks for your inquiry.

      Generally most credit cards which are enabled with online purchasing and EFTPOS transactions come with a CVC. If your card has not come with a CVC number you will have to request a new card from your bank. Please refer to this page for more information on CVC numbers.



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