USA   |   UK   |   Australia   |   Canada
ADVERTISEMENT

How to find your credit card security code

By Teresa Bitler

WHERE TO FIND YOUR
CARD'S SECURITY CODE

Every credit card has a security code used to help verify that the card is in your possession. Here are the codes' locations on American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa cards:

Where your credit card security code is located

It doesn't matter what you call them -- a card security code (CSC), card verification value (CVV or CV2), card verification code (CVC) or even a card code verification (CCV) -- those three or four digits provide an additional measure of credit card security when you make purchases online or by mail order. But, finding them can be confusing, especially if you've never made an online purchase with that specific card. 

The card security code "is one in a series of steps that merchants can take to prevent fraud and verify that the order is being placed by the actual cardholder," says Matthew Towson, senior manager of community affairs for Discover Financial Services, adding that in most cases, the only way for a cardholder to provide the security code is to actually be in possession of the card.

Where you find the security code depends on the card. If you have a Visa, MasterCard or Discover, turn the card over. In the signature box or just to the right of it, you will see a series of digits. However long the series, the final three digits are the security code.

American Express cardholders can find their security code on the front of the card, either to the left or right of the embossed 15-digit card number. These four digits are printed in black, not embossed.

Even as card issuers switch over to chip-equipped cards, security codes will still be printed and used the same way they are now, according to Doug Johnson, vice president of risk management policy for the American Bankers Association.

"For consumers who are conducting online transactions, it's still an important security measure to have," he said. "As we move to chip cards the goal is not to move away from those other important security measures that help protect consumers."

If you can't read the security code for any reason, call the issuing financial institution on the customer service number listed on the back of your credit card. Each financial institution will have its own guidelines for how to handle illegible security codes, but it may require reissuing the card.

Since the security code is a safety feature, just like your PIN, you will want to protect it. Generally, as long as you have a secure connection, you can safely provide it during online transactions. The merchant is prohibited, for security purposes, from storing the code. However, never provide it to anyone, whether you know them or not, in an email (email is unsecured communication). Once someone else has your security code, card number and card expiration, it will appear to an online merchant that the someone else, not you, is actually in possession of the card.

See related: Anatomy of a credit card, 10 data breach protection tips, How to avoid credit card security overkill

Updated: November 14, 2014



Join the discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.

Three most recent Legal, regulatory, privacy issues stories:

Share This Story




Follow Us!


Credit Card Rate Report

Updated: 12-21-2014

National Average 14.92%
Low Interest 10.37%
Balance Transfer 12.73%
Business 12.85%
Student 13.14%
Reward 14.90%
Cash Back 14.94%
Airline 15.52%
Bad Credit 22.73%
Instant Approval 23.33%

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT