The CSC is in addition to the bank card number which is embossed or printed on the card. The CSC is used as a security feature, in situations where a personal identification number (PIN) cannot be used. The PIN is not printed or embedded on the card but is manually entered by the cardholder during point-of-sale (card present) transactions.
The codes have different names:
- "CAV" or "card authentication value" – JCB
- "CID": "card ID", "card identification number", or "card identification code" – Discover, American Express (four digits on front of card)[a]
- "CSC" or "card security code" – American Express (three digits on back of card)
- "CVC" or "card validation code" – MasterCard
- "CVD" or "card verification data" – Discover, sometimes used as the common initialism for this kind of code
- "CVE" or "Elo verification code" – Elo in Brazil
- "CVN" or "card validation number" – China UnionPay
- "CVV" or "card verification value" – Visa
Types of code
There are several types of security codes:
- The first code, called CVC1 or CVV1, is encoded on track two of the magnetic stripe of the card and used for card present transactions. The purpose of the code is to verify that a payment card is actually in the hand of the merchant. This code is automatically retrieved when the magnetic stripe of a card is read (swiped) on a point-of-sale (card present) device and is verified by the issuer. A limitation is that if the entire card has been duplicated and the magnetic stripe copied, then the code is still valid. (See credit card fraud § skimming.)
- The second code, and the most cited, is CVV2 or CVC2. This code is often sought by merchants for card not present transactions occurring by mail, fax, telephone or Internet. In some countries in Western Europe, card issuers require a merchant to obtain the code when the cardholder is not present in person.
- Contactless cards and chip cards may supply their own electronically generated codes, such as iCVV or a dynamic CVV.
Location of code
The card security code is typically the last three or four digits printed, not embossed like the card number, on the signature strip on the back of the card. On American Express cards, however, the card security code is the four digits printed (not embossed) on the front towards the right. The card security code is not encoded on the magnetic stripe but is printed flat.
- American Express cards have a four-digit code printed on the front side of the card above the number.
- Diners Club, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, and Visa credit and debit cards have a three-digit card security code. The code is the final group of numbers printed on the back signature panel of the card.
- New North American MasterCard and Visa cards feature the code in a separate panel to the right of the signature strip.