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What is a Credit Card CVV Number?

Find out what the 3 digits on the back of your card mean and how they're used to protect you.

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If you’re using your credit card to make a purchase online or over the phone, you’ll usually be asked to provide the name on your card, the account number, expiration date and something called your CVV number, or security code. These 3 or 4 digits are usually located on the back of your card and are used to help protect your finances when using your card.
What is a credit card CCV / CVC number image

What is a credit card CVV or CVC number?

Your CVV (card verification value or card verification code) is a 3 or 4-digit number found on the back of your credit card (or on the front of an American Express credit card). It is also commonly referred to as your credit card’s security code.

The CVV is an anti-fraud measure used when you’re not making a purchase in person and you can’t enter a PIN or sign a receipt. You’re often asked to enter your CVV number if you’re shopping online or making a purchase over the phone. This is so the merchant or payee can verify that you are indeed the cardholder, which can avoid people using your card for fraudulent transactions.

Where do I find my credit card CVV number?

If you have a Visa or Mastercard branded credit or debit card, it’ll be a 3 digit number located on the back of your card next to your signature. If you’re using an American Express issued card, the CVV will be a four-digit number found on the front of your card next to your account number.

How do credit cards work?

1234 5678 9111 121401/01REBECCA KENNEDYEXPIRYCARD HOLDERCARD NUMBER1234 5678 9111 121401/01REBECCA KENNEDYEXPIRYCARD HOLDERCARD NUMBER1212121Like the magnetic stripe, the chip contains your credit card number and expiration date. Unlike the stripe, the chip interacts with the machine that is reading it and encrypts the data and authenticate it more securely. 1234The first one or two digits of the card usually represents whether your card is a Visa, MasterCard or AMEX. The following six or so digits are the card number. The second to the fifth or sixth digits signifies the financial institution or bank that has distributed the card. The 16th number is usually the check digit (used to make sure the number is valid). The expiry digits refers to the month and year that your card will expire.6578On all cards, the CVV number (Card Verification Value) is the three-digit (Visa and MasterCard security number on the back of your card. For American Express it is a four-digit security number on the back of your card.

How do credit cards work?

Hover over parts of the card to learn more about what they do

1234 5678 9111 121401/01REBECCA KENNEDYEXPIRYCARD HOLDERCARD NUMBERChipLike the magnetic stripe, the chip contains your credit card number and expiration date. Unlike the stripe, the chip interacts with the machine that is reading it and encrypts the data and authenticate it more securely. The first one or two digits of the card usually represents whether your card is a Visa, MasterCard or AMEX. The second to the fifth or sixth number signifies the financial institution or bank that has distributed the card. The following six or so digits are the card number. The 16th number is usually the check digit (used to make sure the number is valid). The expiry digits refers to the month and year that your card will expire.
121Magnetic StripeThe magnetic stripe on credit cards holds information on a strip containing tiny iron-based magnetic particles. Your magnetic strip transmits your credit card number and expiration to any machine that can read it.CVV NumberOn all cards, the CVV number (Card Verification Value) is the three-digit (Visa and MasterCard) or four-digit (for American Express) security number on the back of your card.
Flip the card

Since the CVV number is only printed on your card, it’s important that you keep your card safe and secure. If your card is lost or stolen, anyone could use the card to make online purchases or over the phone transactions without your permission. If this does happen, contact your card issuer immediately to cancel or freeze the card and keep an eye on your statement to report any fraudulent transactions. The CVV number is a Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which is a commonly used technology that has a digitally provided certification process.

Credit card CVV scams

While the CVV number is in place to protect your credit card from fraudulent transactions or phishing scams when using your card for online or phone transactions, it’s important to know that you could still fall victim to a credit card scam. That’s why it’s important to only use your credit card on secure sites and with trustworthy merchants, in addition to keeping track of your credit card statement to spot any suspicious transactions. If you do come across one, make sure to contact your bank immediately to report the issue and protect your finances.

Compare credit cards

Interested in a new credit card? Compare cards below that suit your needs whether you’re looking for rewards, cashback, or low balance transfer interest rates.

Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Benefits with this card Description
American Express Cobalt Card
19.99%
21.99%
$120
N/A
Earn 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent at eligible grocery stores, restaurants, bars, cafés and food delivery services, and earn 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent at eligible gas stations, and on transit and travel purchases, and earn 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent elsewhere. Terms apply
Earn up to 45,000 bonus Membership Rewards points. In your first year as a new Cobalt Cardmember, earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 on your card (for a total of 30,000 points in a year). Plus, earn a Welcome Bonus of 15,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend a total of $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months of Cardmembership. Apply by May 5, 2021.
BMO World Elite Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
$80,000
Get 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible travel, dining and entertainment purchases (up to $50,000 spend annually), and get 2 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases (and once you reach the $50,000 annual spend).
Get up to $575 in value in your first year. Get a bonus of 40,000 BMO Rewards points ($285 travel value booked on bmorewards.com). Plus, get the $150 annual fee waived in the first year.
American Express Aeroplan Card
30% annual interest rate applies to balances not paid in full each month
N/A
$120
N/A
Earn 2x the points on eligible purchases made directly with Air Canada and Air Canada vacations, 1.5x the points on eligible dining and food delivery purchases and 1x the points on everything else.
Earn up to 15,000 Welcome Bonus Aeroplan points and a bonus Buddy Pass as a new cardmember.
SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express
19.99%
21.99%
$99
N/A
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases
Earn 10% cash back on all eligible purchases (up to $400 in cash back) for the first four months of Cardmembership.
Choice Card from American Express
19.99%
23.99%
$0
N/A
Earn 1 American Express Membership Point for every $1 you spend on purchases.
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you charge $1,000 in purchases to your card in the first 3 months of Cardmembership.
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
12.99%
12.99%
$20
$15,000
Take advantage of an introductory balance transfer offer, annual fee waiver in the first year, and low purchase and cash advance interest rates.
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
BMO eclipse Visa Infinite
20.99%
23.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
$60,000
Earn 5x the BMO Points for every $1 spent on groceries, dining in and out, gas and transit.
Get up to 40,000 points and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year. Earn 25,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months and get 15,000 points on your first anniversary.
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