Man making a contactless credit card payment at a cash counter

What is a credit card PIN?

Published May 8, 2023
4 min read

Key Points About: Credit Card PINs

  1. A credit card PIN is a four-digit code that you may need to use to make certain credit card transactions.

  2. Most of the time, you will not need a PIN to use your credit card unless you're making a cash advance or traveling abroad.

  3. You should never write your PIN down anywhere or share it with anyone.

A credit card PIN (Personal Identification Number) is typically a set of four numbers you use to make a credit card transaction at a store or an ATM. The PIN acts as a layer of security (in addition to the signature on the back of your card and your credit card chip) that helps protect you against fraud and unauthorized purchases

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How does a credit card PIN work?

When you swipe your credit card to make a purchase, the merchant will ask you to enter your PIN (if needed). Once you enter your PIN on a keypad or touchscreen, the information you entered is verified against your card information. If the PIN is correct, the transaction may be approved. If the PIN is incorrect, the transaction will be declined and you may be asked to enter your PIN again. 

Your credit card PIN is an important way for credit card companies to add an extra layer of protection to your card. Credit card PINs can make it more difficult for fraudsters to use your card. 

Where can I find my credit card PIN number?

You may not have a PIN if you didn't set one up when you opened your credit card account. However, you still may be able to get a credit card PIN depending on your card issuer. Here are some ways you may have received a credit card PIN:

Mail: Sometimes you can find your PIN in the credit card details that you got in the mail when you first received your card. You should check your mail to see if your credit card company sent any PIN information. Sometimes credit card companies will send your PIN in a separate envelope for security purposes.

Online account: If you have an online account for your credit card, you may be able to view your PIN in your account information. You should double-check to see if there is an option to view or change your PIN in your account settings. 

Contact your issuer: You can also contact your credit card company to ask about your PIN. You may also request a new PIN from their customer service if you don't remember your PIN or never had one before. Your credit card company will typically mail your PIN to the address you have on file. 

Can you use a credit card without a PIN?

Most of the time, you may not need a credit card PIN to make a purchase or complete a transaction in the U.S. Instead, you would simply insert your credit card chip, slide or tap your card, or sign to make a purchase.

When do you need a credit card PIN?

Most of the time you'll be able to use your credit card without a PIN. But there are two common credit card transactions that typically would require a PIN: 

  • If you make purchases while abroad 
  • If you make a cash advance at an ATM

Cash advances

If you are getting a cash advance from an ATM, you'll need a credit card PIN. In this case, your PIN helps verify that you are the card owner. Like a debit card, when you make a cash advance at an ATM, you'll insert your chip into the card reader, enter your PIN, and follow the prompts to get cash. 

Purchases in foreign countries

If you are traveling abroad, there is a chance that you may need to enter your credit card PIN when you make purchases. For example, some places in Europe have automated kiosks that only work with foreign credit cards if you provide a PIN.

Do all credit card companies offer PINs?

The availability of PINs may vary depending on the type of credit card company, the type of card, and your location. Some card issuers may give you the option of setting up a PIN during the application process or allow you to request a PIN later. It's important that you check with your credit card company to find out whether a PIN is available for your card, and how to get one and set it up.

Although credit card PIN use is not common, PINs still add an extra layer of protection for cardmembers. It's important to keep your credit card PIN secure and not share it with anyone. You should not write your PIN down anywhere. If you suspect that your PIN has been compromised or if you're the victim of fraud, you should contact your credit card issuer immediately and request a new PIN.

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  • Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.