What is the security code on a credit card?

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The security code on a credit card, also known as the CVV (Card Verification Value) or CVC (Card Verification Code), is a three or four-digit number that provides an additional layer of security when making online or over-the-phone transactions. This code is separate from the card number and expiration date, and it plays a crucial role in preventing fraudulent activities. In this article, we will explore the significance of the security code on a credit card and how it helps protect both consumers and merchants.

What is the Security Code on a Credit Card?

The security code on a credit card is a unique code that is generated by the card issuer and printed on the card itself. It is typically located on the back of the card for Visa, Mastercard, and Discover, while for American Express, it is found on the front. The purpose of this code is to verify that the person making the transaction physically possesses the card.

How Does it Work?
When making an online or over-the-phone purchase, the merchant will ask for the security code along with the card number and expiration date. This information is then transmitted to the card issuer or payment processor for verification. The card issuer compares the security code provided with the one on file and determines if they match. If they do, the transaction is more likely to be legitimate, reducing the risk of fraud.

Why is it Important?
The security code adds an extra layer of protection against unauthorized use of credit cards. Even if someone obtains the card number and expiration date, they would still need the security code to complete a transaction. This makes it more difficult for fraudsters to make fraudulent purchases using stolen credit card information.

Types of Security Codes

Different credit card issuers use different names for the security code, but they all serve the same purpose. Here are the commonly used names for the security code:

CVV (Card Verification Value) and CVC (Card Verification Code): These terms are used by Visa, Mastercard, and Discover. The CVV is a three-digit code located on the back of the card, while the CVC is a three-digit code found on the front of the card for some Visa cards.

CID (Card Identification Number): American Express uses the term CID for its security code. It is a four-digit code located on the front of the card above the card number.

Protecting the Security Code

To ensure the security of your credit card, it is essential to keep the security code confidential. Here are some tips to protect the security code:

Memorize it: Avoid writing down the security code and instead try to memorize it. This reduces the risk of someone finding and using it without your knowledge.

Secure storage: If you must store the security code, keep it in a secure location away from prying eyes or potential thieves. Avoid storing it in your wallet or sharing it with others.

Online security: When making online purchases, ensure that you are on a secure website before entering your credit card information, including the security code. Look for the padlock symbol in the browser’s address bar and ensure the website’s URL starts with “https://”.


The security code on a credit card is a vital component in preventing fraudulent transactions. By requiring the security code along with the card number and expiration date, merchants and card issuers can verify the authenticity of a transaction and reduce the risk of fraud. It is crucial for cardholders to keep the security code confidential and follow best practices to protect their credit card information.


1. visa.com
2. mastercard.us
3. discover.com
4. americanexpress.com