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Debit and Credit Card CVV Explained

What's a debit or credit card CVV? Here's an explanation about how it works and where to find it.

August 12, 2022 | Madison Foster

Stack of dark-colored metallic credit cards

It’s simple – you put in your name, card number, zip code, and that code on the back of your card and your online purchase is complete. But what is that little number and why is it important? If you’ve ever wondered those things yourself, you’ve come to the right place!

What is a CVV?

Paying for most things by check has nearly become a thing of the past thanks to the convenience of debit and credit cards. With that has also come a huge surge in online shopping. It’s simple – you put in your name, card number, zip code, and that short code on the back of your card and your online purchase is complete. But what is that little number and why is it important?

Every debit and credit card contains a three or four-digit number separate from the card number. This Card Verification Value (CVV) or Card Verification Code (CVC) number is most often found next to the signature panel. On a VISA®, MasterCard® or Discover® card, the CVV is three digits and is located on the back. On American Express® cards, it’s four digits and is located on the front near the card number.

This number is an important added layer of security for cards. When making purchases online or over-the-phone, it verifies you are likely the cardholder and have the card physically in your possession.

“There is a reduced chance that your account will be used to make unauthorized purchases when someone obtains your credit card number without the CVV code,” Bruce McClary, senior vice president of communications for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, told the U.S. News & World Report.

There are a few helpful things you can do to safeguard your card security

  1. Never post pictures of your card or card details online or to social sites.
  2. Beware of scams and never give your payment info to someone you don’t know or trust, at least without extensive research. Trust your gut.
  3. Use a secured network when making online purchases or entering sensitive personal or financial information.

Debit and credit card fraud is more common than you’d think, but you don’t have to be the next victim! Stay vigilant and use your knowledge of the importance of the CVV number and other security features to keep your card information safe.


OMB and its affiliates do not provide legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decision.

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