What Is a CVV Number & How Do I Find It?

See how your credit card’s CVV number can help protect you from credit card fraud


A card verification value, also known as a CVV or CVV2, is a security code that helps protect you from credit card fraud.

A CVV number is also known as a card security code (CSC), card verification code (CVC or CVC2) or card identification number (CID). They’re meant to protect debit and credit card owners from unauthorized transactions by providing a second layer of protection.

Keep reading to learn about where you can find your CVV number, why your CVV number is important and more.

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How Are CVVs Assigned?

CVV numbers are issued based on a number of factors, including:

  • Account numbers
  • Expiration dates
  • Card networks
  • Other unique proprietary codes

You should only share your CVV numbers when you are making purchases with a legitimate business.

What’s the Difference Between a CVV and a CVV2?

Remember, you may also see a CVV referred to as a CVV2. But they’re essentially the same thing. The “2” just means it’s a second-generation CVV number that was designed to provide additional protection against credit card fraud.

Does a CVV Have 3 or 4 Digits?

The CVV number is a three-digit or four-digit number depending on your card network. For Visa®, Mastercard® and Discover® cards, you will find that the CVV is a three-digit number. American Express cards have four-digit CVV numbers.

Where to Find Your CVV Code on a Credit or Debit Card

Like your credit card number and expiration date, your CVV number appears directly on your card. But where exactly is it? That depends on the network.

For cards with three-digit CVVs, the CVV number might appear on the back of your card, typically next to the signature box. For cards with four-digit CVVs, the CVV number may appear on the front of the card.

CVV vs. PIN

It’s important to keep in mind that your CVV code and your personal identification number (PIN) aren’t the same. 

Your CVV is used to verify your identity and allows you to make more secure purchases online or over the phone. Your PIN is used to help verify your identity when you use your debit card at an ATM or in stores. 

Credit cards may also have PINs. For example, Capital One cards require cardholders to use their PIN to get cash advances at ATMs.

The Importance of a CVV Number and How It Protects You

Your CVV number adds another layer of protection to help you avoid credit card fraud. CVV numbers help reduce unauthorized transactions and theft, so it’s essential to keep the security code protected as best you can. It’s important to note that not all online merchants require you to provide your CVV number to make purchases. And a CVV may not protect you in all cases of credit card fraud.

How to Protect Your Credit Card Number and CVV Number

Making sure that your CVV and credit card number are safe at all times is important. Capital One has a variety of credit card security features to help you protect yourself. And there are always additional measures you can take.

1. Be Careful When Saving Your Credit or Debit Card Information

Saving your credit card or debit card information online might make checkout a breeze. You can add an extra layer of protection by using virtual card numbers. They’re still linked to your credit card account, but they let you use a different number to fill out online payment information.

2. Only Shop With Legitimate Online Merchants and Websites

It goes without saying that there are illegitimate businesses on the internet. Steering clear of sharing your information with sites that you’re wary of goes a long way. If you’re making a purchase, be sure the site has an “s” after “http” (https://) in its URL. That’s a sign that the site is secure and data is encrypted.

3. Watch Out for Phishing Attempts

Have you ever received random text messages that looked like a scam? Or maybe you received a strange call asking for personal information. Whether it comes in the form of an email, text message or phone call, try to beware of scams. And never share your personal information or click on any links you believe are fraudulent.

The Federal Trade Commission also recommends following these best practices:

  • Unless you’re sure the caller is who they say they are, don’t give your account information over the phone. If you’re not sure, you could consider calling the organization directly instead.
  • Don’t lend your card to anyone.
  • If a transaction requires you to hand over your card, watch for any suspicious behavior by the person holding your card.
  • Save your receipts to compare them with your monthly statement.
  • When it’s time to get rid of old cards, statements and receipts, make sure you’re careful about getting rid of them.

If you’re a Capital One cardholder, you can access and enable security features through the Capital One Mobile app or by signing in to your account online.

Monitor Your Credit for Free With CreditWise From Capital One

Another way you can help protect yourself from credit card fraud is to regularly monitor your credit. It could help you catch signs of fraud such as:

  • Changes to your credit reports that you didn’t authorize, such as new accounts or addresses that aren’t yours.
  • Big drops in your credit scores that you can’t explain.

With CreditWise from Capital One, you can access your free TransUnion® credit report and weekly VantageScore® 3.0 credit score without hurting your score. CreditWise is free and available to everyone whether or not you have a Capital One product. 

You can also get free copies of your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus: Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion. Call 877-322-8228 or visit AnnualCreditReport.com to learn more.


We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

Your CreditWise score is calculated using the TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 model, which is one of many credit scoring models. It may not be the same model your lender uses, but it can be one accurate measure of your credit health. The availability of the CreditWise tool depends on our ability to obtain your credit history from TransUnion. Some monitoring and alerts may not be available to you if the information you enter at enrollment does not match the information in your credit file at (or you do not have a file at) one or more consumer reporting agencies.

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