Your Visa card number and security code help verify the card’s authenticity. You need them, along with the card’s expiration date, to make purchases online or over the phone. Luckily, your Visa card number and security code are easy to distinguish once you know what you’re looking for.
How Visa card numbers and security codes work:
Card number: A Visa credit card number can be 13-to-19 digits long. It’s usually printed right on the front of your card. But some cards have begun to put the number on the back as an extra security measure. Either way, you can’t miss it. Your card number is completely unique. It’s the primary piece of information merchants use to identify your account.
Security code: A Visa card’s security code is a 3-digit number printed on the back, to the right of the signature box. It plays a big role in online and phone transactions, since you can’t just swipe, tap or insert your card. The code helps confirm that a card is legitimate. If someone just has your card number but not the security code, they can’t use it.
Expiration date: The month and last two numbers of the year in which your Visa credit card expires are printed on the front of your card. It might say “08/24,” for example. It’s the date through which the card remains valid. In other words, your card will work through the last day of the month listed. This is the last big piece of information you’ll need to make purchases online or by phone.
When you swipe, tap or insert your card at a store, you won’t have to worry about your Visa card number and security code, as the computer system deals with them automatically. But it’s good to know where everything is when you need to make a purchase manually. For example, the security code for Visa, Mastercard and Discover is 3 digits on the back of your card. For American Express cards, it’s 4 digits on the front.
The code on the back of a credit card is three-digit number known as a Card Security Code (CSC) or Card Verification Value (CVV), among other names. There is such a code on the back of all credit cards because it helps to prevent fraudulent purchases from being made online or over the phone. And you’ll need to provide it whenever you make a so-called “card not present” transaction. This security code usually is three digits long and on the back of your card. American Express cards are the exception, as they have a four-digit security code on the front.… read full answer
That’s the simple explanation, at least. But there are a few other important things you should know about your security code.
Here’s what you should know about the code on the back of a credit card:
The CSC is also known as a Card Verification Code (CVC) or Card Verification Value (CVV). It is usually a 3- or 4-digit number printed on a credit card, not embossed like the card number.
When you make a “card not present” purchase, either online or over the phone, you will have to provide the code. This confirms you are in possession of the card and the transaction is most likely legitimate.
You don’t have to provide the code on the back (or front) of your credit card when you make purchases in person. The CSC is read when the card is swiped, dipped or tapped.
The length and location of the security code on a credit card depends on the card’s network. On a Visa, Mastercard or Discover card, it is a three-digit number on the back of the card, to the right of the signature panel. With an American Express card, the code is four digits on the front of the card, above and to the right of the card number.
The security code on a credit card is not the same as a card’s PIN. A PIN, which you might use to do a cash advance or verify an in-person purchase with some card readers, is not printed on your card. You generally have to request one by phone.
Remember, the code on the back (or front) of a credit card is a safety feature, so be sure to protect it. Never provide your code to anyone but a merchant you’re paying, and never send it in an e-mail, which is almost always an unsecured transmission.
If someone has access to your card number, expiration date and security code, an online merchant would have no reason to suspect a purchase is fraudulent. The good news is that credit cards all give you a $0 fraud liability guarantee. As long as you report any unauthorized purchases to your card’s issuer, you won’t have to pay for them.
Credit cards starting with 4 are on the Visa network, which means they can be used to make purchases from more than 40 million merchants in 200+ countries and territories. A credit card starting with 4 also gives you access to Visa’s standard benefits, including fraud liability protection. Individual card issuers may elect to provide … read full answeradditional Visa perks for certain types of accounts, too.
The first digit in a card number isn’t the only one with significance, though. The five digits that follow are especially important, as they correspond with the issuing bank.
Contactless credit cards are as secure as EMV chip credit cards because they both use the same security standards for transactions. Whether you’re using a tap-to-pay card or inserting your EMV chip card, the sensitive information sent is encrypted. A unique, one-time-use code is created for the transaction instead of sending your name, billing address, CVV code, or zip code. This is called “tokenization.” So even if a thief intercepted your contactless transaction, they couldn’t do much with it.… read full answer
It’s worth noting that Mastercard acknowledges the existence of phone apps that can pick up some of the data from contactless cards. But the thief would have to be in close proximity to the card, and the app could only read the account number and the card’s expiration date. A typical card transaction requires the account number, the expiration date, the security code on the back of the card (CVV) and/or the zip code from the billing address.
The difference between contactless credit card payments and chip card payments is the method by which the data is transferred. A contactless transaction is done by way of a short-range RF (radio frequency) antenna in the card itself. It simply requires the card to be within a very short proximity (1-2 inches) of the payment terminal, rather than inserting the card into a chip reader.
EMV chip cards and contactless credit cards are both more secure than swiping your card’s magnetic stripe.
WalletHub Answers is a free service that helps consumers access financial information. Information on WalletHub Answers is provided “as is” and should not be considered financial, legal or investment advice. WalletHub is not a financial advisor, law firm, “lawyer referral service,” or a substitute for a financial advisor, attorney, or law firm. You may want to hire a professional before making any decision. WalletHub does not endorse any particular contributors and cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of any information posted. The helpfulness of a financial advisor's answer is not indicative of future advisor performance.
WalletHub members have a wealth of knowledge to share, and we encourage everyone to do so while respecting our content guidelines. Please keep in mind that editorial and user-generated content on this page is not reviewed or otherwise endorsed by any financial institution. In addition, it is not a financial institution’s responsibility to ensure all posts and questions are answered.
Ad Disclosure: Certain offers that appear on this site originate from paying advertisers, and this will be noted on an offer’s details page using the designation "Sponsored", where applicable. Advertising may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). At WalletHub we try to present a wide array of offers, but our offers do not represent all financial services companies or products.