What is a CVV?

Have you ever been purchasing new shoes online or ordering pizza over the phone when you are suddenly prompted for your card’s “CVV” or security code? What is it? And where can you find it?

Your card’s CVV — card verification value — adds extra security when you’re making card-not-present transactions. It’s a 3- or 4-digit code usually found on the front or back of your card.

Why Do Credit Cards Have CVV Codes?

For card-not-present purchases, the CVV serves as a security measure. Since online retailers can’t check your signature, they usually ask for your CVV code to ensure you’re the card’s rightful owner. So, even if a thief uses a skimmer to steal your credit card account number, they won’t be able to make transactions on websites that require a CVV.

CVV codes are also useful in the event of a data breach. Because of industry regulations, merchants are not allowed to store this code. So, while a merchant’s website may save your card number and personal details, you’ll almost always have to type in your code each time you make a purchase. However, not every website needs the code. Furthermore, some websites only need it the first time you order and opt to save your information.

How Do You Find Your Credit Card CVV?

CVV is also called a card security code (CSC), CVV2, or CVC2, and it appears on both credit cards and debit cards. Here’s where it on your credit card:

The Visa, Mastercard, and Discover security code is three digits long. It appears on the back of your card, to the right of the signature panel. Preceding it, you might see part or all of your credit card account number.

The American Express security code (also called a card identification number, or CID) is four digits long. It appears on the front of your card, to the upper right of your account number.