Where Is the Security Code on a Credit Card?

By Jamie Cattanach · April 02, 2024 · 6 minute read

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Where Is the Security Code on a Credit Card?

The credit card security code is generally found on the back of the credit card, close to or within the signature field. (There are a few exceptions, however; some American Express cards present the security code on the front of the card, separate from the main credit card number.)

In this article, you’ll learn the details you need about credit card security codes: not just where to find them, but also what they are, why they’re important, and tips for increasing your overall credit card security.

What Is a Credit Card Security Code?

A credit card security code is a numerical code, usually three or four digits long, that helps prevent fraudulent charges.

When you make a purchase that doesn’t involve physically presenting the credit card — for example, online — the point-of-sale system will usually prompt you to enter this security code.

Because the security code is not allowed to be stored by merchants, which helps protect against credit card hackers getting the information. Thus, the security code helps ensure fraudsters can’t use stolen credit card numbers to make digital purchases.

Other Common Names for Credit Card Security Codes

You may also hear the credit card code referred to as:

•   CVV, or Card Verification Value

•   CSC, or Card Security Code

•   CVC2, or Card Verification Code

•   CID, or Card Identification number

All of these terms signify that same three- or four-digit code on the back (or occasionally front) of your card.

When Do You Need Your Credit Card Security Code?

Your credit card security code is usually requested by the merchant whenever you’re making a credit card transaction without being physically present with the card.

The most common instance of this by far these days? That’s probably when you make an online purchase, but you may also make a credit card purchase over the phone and be asked to provide the security code.

Recommended: Understanding Purchase Interest Charges on Credit Cards

Why Credit Card Security Codes Are Important

Again, credit card security codes work to make your credit card information more secure — at least during purchases where you’re not physically present with the card. (When you are physically inserting, swiping, or tapping a credit card, other security features, such as the EMV chip, offer security measures.)

Where to Find Your Credit Card Security Code Number

Your credit card security code number is almost always on the back of your credit card, usually toward the right-hand side of the card beside or within the signature box. Some credit cards may list the credit card number on the back of the card, as well, but the security code is separate.

American Express cards list the security code on the front of the credit card, usually to the left of the card and always above the main credit card or account number.

Recommended: Guide to Checking Your Credit Card Approval Odds

How to Find Card Security Code Without the Card

The whole point of your credit card’s security code is to make the card impossible to use without being physically present. So, unfortunately, if you’ve lost your credit card, there’s no way to recover the code separately.

You may be able to ask the credit card issuer for a virtual version of the card, which will allow you to see the security code, or you may need to report the card lost or stolen and wait for a new card — with a new account number and security code — to arrive by mail.

Example of Credit Card Issuers That Use a Credit Card Security Code

These days, just about every major credit card issuer uses credit card security codes to help ensure the safety of their cardholders.

Discover, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express all use security codes — though as noted above, American Express cards are the only ones that list the code on the front of the card instead of the back.

Tips on Credit Card Security

Keeping your credit card information safe is the first step in preventing identity theft and fraudulent purchases. Fortunately, security measures like CVCs help make it easier, but here are some tips to help double your defenses.

•   Use secure passwords. These days, most people manage their credit cards (and many other types of financial accounts) online. Using secure passwords helps ensure fraudsters can’t hack into your online profiles to steal your information. Using a long password with a mix of numerical, alphabetical and special characters can help increase your level of security. If your credit card utilizes a PIN, change it often.

•   Be careful how you share credit card information. Though it may be safe to make a purchase through a legitimate, secure website or on an official company phone line, you should never email your credit card information or write it on a slip of paper for someone. If a merchant requests you to do so, shop elsewhere.

•   Sign up for alerts. Many credit card accounts can alert users by email, text message, or phone call when suspicious activity, like very high-priced purchases or transactions done at a different physical location than your home area, are made. Some cards may also automatically decline such transactions. (Don’t worry: if the charges are legit, you’ll be able to quickly verify them with the credit card company to get the transaction approved. It can also be helpful to let your credit card company know ahead of time if you’re planning to travel.)

The Takeaway

Want to know where the security code is on a credit card? Your credit card security code is located, in most cases, on the back of your card, close to or within the signature box. American Express cards list the security code on the front of the credit card. No matter where it is, the code helps keep your information safe when making transactions online or over the phone.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.


Is a credit card security code 3 or 4 digits?

Credit card security codes can actually be three or four digits long. Discover, Visa, and MasterCard all use three-digit codes that are printed on the back of the credit card, while American Express employs a four-digit code printed on the front of the card.

Is the security code the same as CVV?

Yes, the credit card security code is the same as the CVV, which stands for Card Verification Value. The code can also be known as a CSC (Card Security Code), CVC2 (Card Verification Code), or CID (Card Identification number).

Are all credit card security codes 3 digits?

Not necessarily. Credit card security codes can be three or four digits long, depending on what kind of card you have. The four- or three-digit code on a credit card is typically found on the back, but occasionally on the front.

Photo credit: iStock/Kantamard Lamasai

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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