What Is a Credit Card Security Code?

Written by Jennifer PachecoUpdated: 31st Mar 2022
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If you’ve ever purchased an item online or via phone, you probably know what a security code is and where you can find it. Even still, some users don’t know the extent of what a credit card security code offers or how much it protects your accounts against fraudulent activity.

In this post, you’ll learn the ins and outs of what a security code really is, that way when internet and telephone payment processing centers ask you for the 3 or 4-digit code, you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about.

What Is a Credit Card Security Code?

Credit card security codes were created to give you, the account holder, additional security measures for necessary protections. These codes are only present on the physical credit card itself and cannot be found via your online account or any credit card documentation.

The credit card security code authenticates that you are in possession of your credit card, notifying merchants that no one else is using your credit card number for purchasing. This process helps companies and businesses grow confidence that they can trust your payment method while providing you with much needed protection against hackers.

>> More: How to Apply and Get Approved for a Credit Card

How to Find Your Credit Card Security Code

Depending on the credit card company you’re dealing with will depend on where the credit card security code is located on the physical card.

If you make payments with a Visa or Mastercard, you can find the 3 digits on the back of the card, to the right of the signature.

Credit Card Security Codes
Credit Card Security Codes (CVV)

If you choose to do business with Discover, you can find the 3 digits on the back of the card, to the right of the signature in a small box.

If you are a member of American Express, you can find the 4 digits on the front of the card, towards the right, above the credit card number.

>> More: What Are Credit Card Points?

When Do You Need Your Credit Card Security Number?

It’s good to have your credit card security number handy when you’re intending to make a purchase online or via telephone, as transactions will not go through without stating this number. It’s true that not every single merchant will require this to process a transaction, but most do for additional security measures.

You’ll also need the code to confirm a first-time purchase through a new website if you haven’t saved the card information yet.

Is the Credit Card Security Code the Same as CVV?

A credit card security code and CVV are the exact same thing.

What Is a Dynamic CVV Code?

A credit card security code does offer security and protection against fraudulent users, but it’s not bulletproof.

Because of this, credit card agencies have come up with something that has even more of a backbone, and it’s labeled a dynamic CVV code. Though hackers can determine a regular CVV code if they work hard enough, the same cannot be said of the dynamic CVV code.

A dynamic CVV code is not just one code, but many. Located wherever the CVV would initially be depending on the credit card agency, you’ll find a small battery powered screen displaying a different number at different times. With this method, you cannot simply memorize the security code, as it could change by the hour or by the day. You’ll always have to verify the current code to make a purchase or complete a transaction.

Other Names for Credit Card Security Codes

CVV stands for credit verification value, and that’s just one way credit card agencies name the security code for users to be able to easily locate it. Similar “nicknames” include:

  • CSC – Card security code
  • CVN – Card verification number
  • CVC – Card validation code
  • SPC – Signature panel code

Is a CVV 3 or 4 Digits?

As previously mentioned, the CVV numerical digit depends on the card you have in your possession. If you choose to process transactions through Visa, Mastercard, or Discover, the security code will consist of three distinguishable digits. If you prefer purchasing through American Express, the security code will hold four numerical digits.

Should I Ever Share My CVV Number?

The best way to keep your credit card safe is to not share your CVV code with anyone outside of verified and trusted purchases. If you’re buying something online or via telephone and they need your CVV code, that’s understandable. Just be sure that you’re not giving out that 3 or 4-digit code to just anybody.

Note that banks and credit card agencies will not call you and request that you confirm your credit card’s security code. Vital information such as that should never be obtained via phone and if your bank absolutely needs to discuss a CVV with you, have an in-person meeting to discuss details. If you’re ever weary of any transaction, call your credit card agency and ask them questions before proceeding.

Bottom Line: Credit Card Security Code

All in all, credit card security codes were created for your safety. They were never meant to cause harm or get your funds taken away from you by fraudulent hackers.

It’s your job to know what a credit card security code is, where to find it, what its purpose is, and when not to release its coding. This article has briefed you on all thing’s credit card security code related so that you’re prepared for future transactions.

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Jennifer Pacheco

Jennifer Pacheco attended the University of Dartmouth, Massachusetts where she earned her degree in English Writing & Editorial Work. She is a seasoned personal finance writer with over 5 years of professional work under her belt, and supplies easy-to-read information that’s educational, engaging, and conversational to help you make the most of your money.