CVV Number: What It Is and How It Works

If you have ever made an online purchase, you probably know that you are always asked for your card number, its expiry date, and the CVV. And if you are experienced in online shopping, you will already know where to find the CVV. 

But what exactly is the CVV of the debit card? What is its use? You will find all the answers here.

The Parts of your Bank Card

To find out in detail what CVV is, let’s first know about the parts of a bank card. Bank cards have a front and a back.

1. Front of a Bank Card

The front of a debit/credit card generally includes information such as:

  • Issuing bank logo
  • 13-19 digit card number
  • Card holder name
  • Description of credit card type (Visa, Verve, or Mastercard)

2. Back of a Bank Card

Meanwhile, if you reverse the position of the card, it will display some information such as:

  • Holder’s signature
  • 3 special numbers 
  • Issuing bank information

Then, what is CVV?

CVV(Card Verification Value) is a code that consists of a 3-digit number mostly on the back of a bank card. It is a feature for online payment security, implemented by Visa, Verse, and Mastercard. 

Especially for Mastercard, they have been using this feature since January 1, 1997; while Visa and Verve only used it in 2001 and 2009 respectively.

CVV or CVC(Card Validation Code) are the same. The difference lies only in the type of card. Mastercard users will use the term CVC.

By including the CVV number on your card, to a fairly large extent, your card provider bank will trust that the online transaction is made by you. On the other hand, if you don’t include a CVV, your transaction will automatically be declined.

Each card has its own CVV and the numbers are never repeated. That is why when you renew your bank card, you’ll see that both the expiration date and its CVV number change, even if the card number is still the same.

During online transactions, it is important to know that there are many other ways CVV numbers can be referred to. The main ones are:

  • Card Code Verification (CCV)
  • Card Security Code (CSC)
  • Card Verification Value Code (CVVC)
  • Card Verification Data (CVD)
  • Card Verification Number (CVN)

The Function of CVV number on Bank Card

Your CVV number serves as a security measure for transactions where your card’s chip or magnetic stripe is not read. Since online merchants cannot verify your signature, many will ask for your CVV to verify that you are the rightful owner of the card. 

The CVV is designed such that the numbers can’t be photocopied with a shim(a paper-thin device used to steal card information when withdrawing from an ATM). Thus, even if a thief steals your credit card number with a shim, he won’t be able to use it to pay on a merchant site claiming the CVV. 

CVV codes also help protect you in the event of a data breach. Merchants have an obligation never to store or save the CVV codes of their customers. So while you can save your card number and personal information on a merchant’s website, you usually have to enter your CVV every time you make a purchase.

However, not all sites require a CVV code. And some only ask for your CVV the first time you order items (assuming subsequent transactions are also legitimate).

How to Use your Card’s CVV number

When you want to make an online transaction, whether it’s shopping, paying for an online cinema ticket, or paying monthly bills, you will be required to fill out a column or form.

You must fill out the form so that online transactions can be executed immediately. Here are some of the information that you usually have to fill in the form:

  • Card Type: Fill in the type of card as indicated on your bank card, whether Visa, Verve, or Mastercard
  • Card Number: Fill in by entering the credit card number (16-19 digit number)
  • Card Holder Name: Enter the full name of the card owner
  • Expiration Date: Fill in the card’s expiration date, usually on the front of the credit card
  • CVV: Fill in 3 numbers on the back of your card.

Afterward, depending on the site and the bank, you will probably need a double authentication by SMS or using your bank’s mobile application to confirm the transaction.

What to do if the CVV of the bank card has been erased?

If your CVV number has been erased and you do not remember it, you will no longer be able to make purchases online. Most of the time, your bank will not give you the code. 

However, some banks can allow you to have a visualization of your bank cards: you can thus check the number, the expiry date of the bank card, and its CVV without having the card in front of you.

If this does not work, you will have to cancel your bank card and request a new one. When you receive it, remember to write down your CVV in a notebook in case it disappears again.

Should you erase the CVV yourself for security reasons?

Some people decide, for enhanced security, to permanently erase the digits of the CVV. This is not a bad idea, because if a malicious person takes your credit card, without the CVV they will not be able to make an online purchase.

However, there are things to consider before erasing these numbers: you could forget them, which will force you to request a cancellation of the card. 

Hence, if you have any doubts about your ability to remember it by heart, do not hesitate to write down the CVV in a safe place before you erase it.

How to protect your CVV?

To make your online transactions safe, I recommend that you take the following precautions to properly protect your CVV:

  • Only provide your CVV to secure merchant sites online: make sure that the URL begins with “HTTPS://” – the “s” at the end means “secure” and therefore your information will be encrypted.
  • Avoid saving your personal data on websites. Also, avoid auto-filling. It’s a little annoying to have to re-enter card information with each purchase, but it’s expedient to protect your data. Note that your CVV number should never appear in your cookies.
  • Install Antivirus software: Good antivirus software will save you a lot of trouble.
  • Protect your WiFi network with a secure password: Without a password, or with an easy-to-guess password, someone could monitor your browsing and steal your information, including CVV.
  • Do not click on links in suspicious emails: this is a “phishing” technique, which will try to make you disclose your banking information, including your card’s CVV.


CVV numbers may seem to be good enough to protect you against having your card hacked, but you should still be vigilant. Never give this code to anyone – neither by mail, nor by SMS, and much less never send a photo of your card on both sides to a stranger.

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Anthony Adewuyi

Anthony Adewuyi

Anthony is a Content Writer with He is passionate about Finance, Business, and Tech related topics. He is a Digital Entrepreneur with vast experience in Data Analytics and Advanced Google Analytics

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