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What Is a CVV?

Last Updated: August 29, 2022
3 min read

Let’s Learn About: What a CVV number is and where to find it

  1. A CVV, or card verification value, is typically a three- or four-digit number found on a credit card

  2. CVV numbers add an extra layer of security for your credit card

  3. A CVV is different than the PIN associated with your credit card

When ordering items online, these days you’re almost always asked to input a CVV number (sometimes called a CVC or CSC) when adding your payment information. What is the meaning of CVV, and why do credit cards have them?

What does CVV stand for?

CVV stands for card verification value. The CVV is a three- to four-digit number, typically on the back of a credit card, but sometimes on the front. The CVV is determined by the debit or credit card issuer based on specific factors, such as the credit card number, the card’s expiration date, a credit card issuer’s unique code, or a specific service code.

Other names for CVV code

Some online merchants may call the CVV number by a different name. Don’t worry. They all mean the same thing. Here are other names that have the same meaning as CVV:

  • CVC: Card Verification Code
  • CSC: Card Security Code
  • CIN/CID: Card Identification Number
  • CVV2: Card Verification Value 2

The purpose of a CVV on a credit card

Think of the CVV number as an extra layer of security for your credit card. The CVV can help protect you from fraud, theft, and unauthorized transactions. CVV numbers are often required to make online purchases because they help the merchants you’re buying from verify that you have the card in your possession at the time of purchase, which helps prevent fraud.

CVV numbers are hard for hackers to obtain because retailers don’t store CVV numbers in their databases, so even if hackers breach these databases and get credit card numbers, they won’t obtain your CVV.

A CVV number is not the same as a PIN

The CVV is not the same as the credit card’s PIN number. A personal identification number (PIN) is typically used to make credit card cash withdrawals at an ATM, or with in-person purchases on a debit card. A PIN is user-created, meaning it’s chosen by the person using the card, and won’t be printed on the card. A CVV is chosen by the credit or debit card issuer.

Where do I find the CVV?

You can find the CVV from most credit card issuers on the back of your card. Typically, it will be on or near the signature strip that’s located on the back of the card. Other credit card issuers may put the CVV on the front of the card.

On Discover it® credit cards, the three-digit CVV is on the back of your card at the end of your 16-digit credit card number. It is sometimes italicized.

What to do if you can’t find your CVV

If you can’t find your security code, or if you can’t read it because it’s faded or illegible, call the card issuer. You’ll find the phone number on the back of the card.

Protect your CVV number

Now that you know the meaning of the CVV number, here are some tips to help keep it safe and protect yourself from fraud.

  • Use your card only on trusted and secure websites, such as sites with “https:” at the beginning of the URL, and those with an SSL “padlock” icon next to the URL.
  • Never share photos of your credit card on social media.
  • Avoid using your credit card on unsecured WiFi networks and protect your home WiFi with a password.

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