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What is a CVV/CVC Number on a Debit Card, and Where Can it be Found?

Irina Tsymbaliuk

We often use various payment methods, such as paying with plastic cards. But what is a CVV number on a debit card, and what do its functions include? Is it generally safe to tell it to third parties?

After reading the article, you  will find out the answers to these and other questions. Rates experts tell in detail what is a CVV code on a debit card and in what cases it is used.

What is CVV/CVC?

Although plastic cards have long become commonplace, not everyone knows what is a CVC number on a debit card. It's unsurprising because we pay little attention to this code, sometimes leading to problems.

CVV/CVC should not be confused with the PIN code of a payment instrument, as they have significant differences. The latter serves only to authenticate the cardholder or, more precisely, to confirm transactions at the POS, withdraw cash from ATMs, and interact with self-service terminals.

CVV/CVC and CVV2/CVC2 are card identifiers unique to each payment instrument. They are generated by special algorithms based on large data amounts. Therefore, such a code cannot be faked or accidentally guessed.

Where Can CVV/CVC Be Found?

What a CVC code on a debit card is, and where to find it depends on the type of payment instrument. We will consider 3 typical options: Visa/Mastercard, American Express, and Discover.


As you can see in the example, the numbers are printed directly under the magnetic tape on the card's backside. The magnetic tape also contains this code, which allows you to read the information without manually entering the number in the POS terminal.

American Express

There are 2 fundamental differences between Visa/MasterCard cards — the length of the code and its location. In the previous example, it was printed on the back side of the plastic payment instrument, and on AE, it is on the front side. Also, pay attention to the number of characters. There are 4 of them here, not 3, as in other cards. It is done purposely to minimize the risks of CVV/CVC being guessed or generated by attackers.


Here, the placement and length of the code are identical to Visa/MasterCard. CVC is also on the back of a card and consists of three digits.

Protect your funds

Now you know what CVC on a debit card is and its location. However, you should also know about its importance and methods of code protection from attackers. You don't have to worry about paying offline because you don't need this number for in-store purchases. But for online transactions, a CVV/CVC is required because it acts as a verification code of the user. Accordingly, anyone who knows the card number, its expiration date, and the specified code can use your money to purchase goods or order services online.

To protect yourself, follow the recommendations of Rates experts:

  • Do not share the code with third parties.
  • Use special pockets or covers for storing cards.
  • Try to avoid keeping cards in the area covered by digital cameras in supermarkets, etc.
  • Cover the code with your finger so that cashiers or other customers cannot see it.
  • Carefully stick a piece of paper or a holographic label to where the code is printed.


Knowing what CVV on a debit card is and how to find it, it will be easier to avoid careless handling of a plastic card that may lead to financial losses. Therefore, do not share this data with third parties, hold means of payment in secure, opaque containers, and check the websites where you conduct digital transactions. The safety of your funds depends primarily on your prudence and caution.


What is CVC on a debit card?

CVV is the 3 or 4 digits on the card used to authenticate online transactions. They also play the role of protecting your finances from criminals. If you understand what a CVV number on a debit card is, you can protect your data from intruders.

Do I need a CVV number for offline transactions?

No, because the same code is “embedded” in the magnetic strip that you swipe through the POS terminal reader. You only need to verify the transaction by entering your PIN in the terminal.

Is it safe to give out your CVV?

Do not provide data about this code to third parties under any circumstances. Attackers may have your card number and its expiration date, but a unique algorithm generates the CVV/CVC  and cannot be randomly selected.

Is the CVV number the same as the PIN?

No, in simple terms, CVV is a method of authenticating a transaction on the network, and PIN is a similar method of confirming a purchase, but at a POS terminal.