What is the Security Code on Debit Card For?

Updated on March 5, 2024

Many Americans use debit cards in order to gain access to their money more safely. But although there are so many debit card owners, not all of them know what the security code is, and what purpose it serves. You may be in the same situation if you accessed this page. Well, we ensured we add as much helpful information for you as possible, so read on.

What Is a Security Code on a Debit Card?

The first time you received your credit card, you probably turned it on all sides to explore every little detail engraved on it. Most likely, you didn’t try to hide your enthusiasm. At last, you had a debit card of your own.

While turning your debit card on all sides, you probably noticed multiple numbers on it. The most noticeable one is the one on the front, which contains 15 or 16 digits. Very close to that number, you will see the expiration date of the card. So far, everything is pretty easy and straightforward. But there’s also a code on the back. What could that be?

The three or four-digit code number you find on the back of your debit card is known as the security code. It is in the signature box right below the magnetic stripe you have on the back of your debit card. This is one of those codes that are unique and should never be given to anyone. Usually, this code can be referred to as either CVC, aka card verification code, or CVV, aka card verification value. In some cases, this code can even be featured on the front of the card, such as in the case of American Express cards. Moreover, you can find the same code on credit cards.

Of course, what happens when you swipe the magnetic strip with a debit card is different from what happens when you do the same thing with a credit card. With debit cards, you’re using your own money in order to pay bills, buy something, or anything of the sort. So, this card lets you use the money from the bank account linked to it. Meanwhile, credit cards will have you using the money of the card issuer. This is when the issuer agreed to give you a loan to have money for a bill or a purchase.

Why Are There Security Codes on Debit Cards?

Security codes on debit cards are there to protect the money in the account from fraudulent use. It is required to prove that the card is in the hand of the owner. So, even if someone ends up finding out your debit card code, they would not be able to do anything unless they also have the security code. It’s all there to make sure that nobody uses your money.

For this reason, security codes should be protected and you should make sure that nobody knows your code.

How Do Debit Card Security Codes Work?

Debit cards are connected to your bank account. They are either linked to the actual account or a certain amount of money in case you’re using a prepaid debit card. Since you have money on it, it’s always important to do your best to protect it.

So, what exactly are security codes doing in this regard? Well, they add a layer of protection when you’re doing card transactions. When you’re doing transactions over the phone or online, then you may be asked to provide your security code. This code allows the merchant to check whether you are the cardholder or at least an authorized user. You should have the card in your possession in order to be able to share the code.

Also, the security code you have on your debit card doesn’t work the same way as the PIN you chose when you got your credit card. It’s also different from the one you use when you are going to the ATM to withdraw money, or when making an in-person debit purchase.

Moreover, it’s not the same as the unique code generated by EMV chip cards that help prevent fraud. The cards we’re talking about have a certain chip in the front instead, and when you insert your card into the card reader, it will read the chip. After the chip is being scanned, you will have to enter your PIN or use your own signature. That’s how the chip then generates a unique code for that purchase. This code is not visible on your card, though, so it has nothing to do with the security code.

Security codes are important and should be kept safe at all costs because they help protect your money against those who would use it fraudulently. You should be the only one who knows the code. If somebody else finds it, they might try making fraudulent purchases, even if they don’t steal the physical card from you.

How to Find the Security Code on Your Debit Card

All you have to do is look on the back of your debit card, and the code should be visible. The code is three or four characters long and even though it’s usually found on the back of the card, American Express cards feature it on the front.

There are situations when you may not be able to find this code, in which case you should call your bank or financial institution that issued your card. Without the code, you will not be able to make purchases online or other physical locations that require your security code.

Other Ways to Fight Debit Card Fraud

So, we already know that security codes are a way to prevent fraud and that they should not be revealed to anyone. But what are some other ways to make sure debit card fraud doesn’t occur? Here are some steps that will help you keep your card secure:

  • Don’t use your debit card to buy something online – credit cards may be safer when it comes to this
  • Don’t reveal your PIN to anyone, and definitely don’t write it down on a piece of paper or carry it with you
  • Check out your bank account statements, bills, or credit reports frequently to see if there are any signs of purchases or withdrawals you didn’t make
  • If possible, you should sign up for text message or email alerts that inform you when there’s any activity on your account

Other than these methods, you should immediately contact your bank, card issuer, or credit union if your card was stolen or got lost. This way, you will make sure nobody gets to use your money, even if they got their hands on your card.


It’s very important to know about the security code on a debit card if you’re planning to make any online purchases or pay your bills online. As soon as you obtain your debit card, you should start thinking of ways to make sure the security code is not discovered by anyone else and that you keep your card safe. On top of that, you should contact your bank in case you notice any weird behavior on your account and think someone discovered your code and is using your card.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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