CVV, CVV2, CSC or CVC — what on earth are these? They’re credit card security codes. If you’ve ever been asked for your credit card security code and don’t know what it is or where to find it, here’s what you need to know about this important number, including when to share it and where to find it on a credit card.

What Is a Credit Card Security Code?

This code is a three- or four-digit number printed on a credit card, but it isn’t the same as your credit card account number.1 These codes are one of the tools businesses may use to prevent online fraud and reduce the likelihood that the credit card account is being used by someone other than the cardholder.2 This is because a person usually needs to be in possession of the physical credit card (not only the account number) to have access to the security code.2


Credit card security codes may be referred to with a variety of acronyms such as:

  • CVV or CVV2 (Card Verification Value Code)
  • CSC3 (Card Security Code)
  • CVC or CVC2 (Card Verification Code)
  • CID4(Card Identification Number)

Why You Should Protect Your Security Code

Since your credit card security code is another tool to help protect your credit, be careful about sharing it over the phone and never share it in an email as this is not a secure method of communication.

Protecting your code is important because if someone has your credit card number, the expiration date of the card and your security code, they can make online purchases because it will appear to online merchants that the authorized cardholder (you) is completing the transaction.2

Your Security Code Is Not Your PIN

Your PIN is your Personal Identification Number; it’s completely different from your credit card security code. A PIN is a numerical code that the customer uses with debit and credit cards to authorize transactions such as cash advances or to withdraw funds from an ATM. In contrast, a security code is used, for example, during a transaction when the retailer may ask for the number to verify that the cardholder has the card in their possession at the time of the transaction.5 Like your credit card security code, protect your PIN carefully when keying it in public and don’t share it with anyone.

Where to Find Your Security Code

According to, for Visa, MasterCard and Discover, you’ll find a series of numbers printed on the back of the card, usually either on the signature strip or just to the right of it. Regardless of the number of digits, your security code consists of the last three digits (they may be italicized). For American Express cardholders, look for your 4-digit security code on the front of the card, and note that these four digits will be printed in black, not embossed like your credit card number.

What to Do If You Can’t Find Your Credit Card Security Code

Call the financial institution that issued the credit card if you can’t find your security code, or if you can’t read it because it’s faded or illegible. You’ll find the phone number on the back of the card.

Your credit card security code is there to help protect you from fraud. Locate it on each of your credit cards, and take care when sharing it to reduce the likelihood of it falling into the wrong hands.


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.