Credit Building Tips

What is CID on a Credit Card? What It Means

Shaun Connell
April 21, 2023

Have you ever wondered how merchants can ensure that a credit card being used during a transaction isn't being used fraudulently? When someone enters a credit card number online or reads it over the phone, after all, the merchant has no way of knowing whether the consumer actually physically has the card in their posession.

This is where a CID number comes in-- also known as a CVV2 or CVC2.

Solution iconCID on a credit card stands for "card identification number." It is a three or four-digit number that can be found on the card that serves to add additional security for online or over-the-phone transactions.

Let's take a look at everything you need to know about CID numbers.

What Is a CID Number?

CID stands for "card identification number." A CID number is a security feature that is used when you are making a transaction when your card isn't physically present. This is a three or four-digit number that can be found on your credit card.

in person transation CID credit card

You also might hear the terms:

  • CVV2 or CVC2 is used to describe the CID number on a card.
  • CVC2 stands for "Card Validation Code 2"
  • CVV2 stands for "Card Verification Value 2"

All of these terms of usually used interchangeably.

What Does a CID Number Do?

This three or four-digit number essentially offers a payment system a method to determine whether your card is authentic.

There are two things that a CID number helps to verify:

  • Your credit card account is legitimate
  • You physically have your credit card in your possession

These verification numbers aren't contained in the magnetic stripe information of the card. Instead, they are only on the card itself.

Additionally, these numbers can't be found on credit card statements or on receipts. Using a CID helps payment processors ensure that they aren't accepting counterfeit cards.

Where Can You Find the CID Number on a Credit Card?

You can find the CID number on a Visa, MasterCard, or Discover card on the back of the card. It will be located to the right of the credit card number near the signature area. CID numbers on these types of cards consist of three digits.

On American Express cards, the CID number is actually located on the front of the card. It will appear above the account number on the card's face. It usually is on the right side, but it will sometimes appear on the left side of the card.

Credit Card CID Frequently Asked Questions

Many people don't realize exactly what function the security code on their card offers. They sometimes give it out when they don't need to because they think it is necessary information, even in in-person transactions. Stick with us as we answer some of the most common questions about CID to help ensure your credit card info stays safe and secure.

Is It Safe to Give Out My CID?

You should never need to give your CID to another person when you are making a sales transaction in person.

  • If you are shopping online, it is generally considered safe to use your CID number.

credit cards with CID


In fact, most online retailers will require that you enter your CID when you are making purchases in an effort to prevent fraudulent transactions. That being said, you always want to make sure that you only give your credit card information to reputable companies.

How Do I Keep My CID Safe?

  • Your CID number is a useful security device that helps to prevent fraud. However, if someone else gets a hold of your credit card information-- CID and all-- they will have what they need to make a purchase.

For this reason, it's important to always be careful when entering your card information online.

Here are some steps you can take to protect your financial information online:

  1. Use a private device on a secure connection: Though not entirely foolproof, use your own personal device on a private (rather than public) Wi-Fi connection. You might also choose to use a VPN (virtual private network) that helps to add an additional layer of security.
  2. Research lesser-known merchants: Before making a purchase on a website for a store you've never heard of, do some research. Consider searching for reviews online or looking them up on the Better Business Bureau.
  3. Shop directly from websites: Even for larger retailers, navigate directly to their website using your browser rather than clicking a link in an email.
  4. Consider using a more secure payment option: You might choose to take some additional measures to ensure that your card info is safe. Third-party digital wallets (like Apply Pay and Google Pay), virtual credit card numbers, and PayPal Checkout are all additional measures you can use.
  5. Use the security features on your credit card app: There are usually a number of security features included with your credit cards mobile app, such as account alerts and two-factor authentication.
  6. Maintain your systems: Using strong passwords and regularly changing them, keeping your contact info up to date on your credit card company's site and app, and regularly reviewing credit card statements can all help you keep your credit card information safe.

Did you overdraw your bank account and you're worried it's going to ding your credit? Check out this article to learn more about whether a bank overdraft affects your credit score.

Does My CID Expire With My Credit Card?

You will end up with a new CID code when you get a new credit card. This is the case whether you apply for an entirely new card or if an old card expires and you need to replace your existing card.

Why Is the CID Important for Online Purchases?

When you use a credit or debit card in person, you can supply a signature, pin, ID, or another type of verification when making a purchase. However, if you're making an online purchase or buying something over the phone, the merchant and the card processor have no way of knowing for sure that you are actually in possession of the card. You could, instead, be someone who has the name and card number of someone else.

People can steal credit card numbers through a number of venues, including:

  • Phishing emails
  • Major data breaches
  • Public wi-fi networks
  • ATM skimming
  • Searching through your mail

Though a CID number isn't a completely foolproof security measure-- after all, not all merchants ask for it-- it does serve as an extra layer of security against fraudulent activity.

Was your identity stolen and it took a serious toll on your credit file? This guide goes over how to repair your credit after ID theft and fraud.

Is CID the Same as CVV on a Credit Card?

Yes, a CVV, CVC, CVV2, and CVC2 are all acronyms used to describe the same security code on your credit card.

  • On Visa, MasterCard, and Discover, this will be a three-digit code on the back of the card.
  • On American Express cards, it'll be a four-digit code on the front.

What Should I Do If Someone Else Has My CID?

If someone has your CID without any of your other credit card information, they probably won't be able to do any damage. However, if they have your credit card number, your name, your CID, and other important info, you could become a victim of credit card fraud.

If you find yourself in this situation, follow these steps:

  1. Call your credit card company ASAP: As soon as you notice the fraudulent activity, call your credit card issuer immediately. They will issue you a new card and begin an investigation.
  2. Check all of your accounts and change your passwords: Make sure you change all of the PINs and passwords for your financial accounts in case the fraudster has additional personal and financial information.
  3. Notify the credit card bureaus: Requesting a freeze from the three major credit bureaus can make it harder for new accounts to be opened in your name by identity thieves.
  4. Call the police if necessary: Filing a report with the police will allow them to open an investigation.
  5. Keep an eye on your credit reports and credit card statements: It's best to check your credit reports and credit card statements for at least a few months after the fraudulent activity has occurred, as it can take a while for any changes to show up.
  6. Check all of your online shopping accounts: There's a good chance the card that was used fraudulently is saved on some of your online shopping accounts. Remove this card and other stored cards if you are concerned that these accounts aren't secure anymore.

Are you trying to improve your credit health? Check out these posts about removing charge-offs, collections accounts, hard inquiries, evictions, and 30-day late payments from your credit report.

The Importance of Credit Card Safety

Credit cards allow us a tremendous amount of freedom by letting us buy things now and pay for them later. This freedom also comes with responsibility-- the responsibility to both use credit responsibly and keep our credit card information secure so it doesn't fall into the hands of identity thieves.

In order to make sure that your credit card accounts are safe, you'll want to practice the following:

  • Sign the back of your new card as soon as you receive it
  • Turn on suspicious activity alerts on your credit card online account
  • Create a strong and unique password/PIN for your credit card accounts
  • Use different passwords for credit cards and bank accounts
  • Don't use a PIN that you use for other personal reasons, such as your birthday or part of your Social Security Number
  • Don't leave your card unattended or let others use your card
  • Use multi-factor authentication when available
  • Don't let others see your card when you're in public
  • Be selective when you give out your credit card numbers over the phone-- only give them to a merchant or bank you trust and only give them out on calls you initiated
  • Use paperless billing and make payments online in order to reduce the physical mail you receive with your account information.
  • Always shred documents that contain personal information before throwing them in the trash.
  • Consider turning off the autofill function on your browser so your card info isn't stored.
  • Consider using a digital wallet
  • Practice basic online and mobile safety
  • Regularly check your account
  • Inform your credit card issuer right away if you are going to dispute a charge.
  • Report stolen or lost cards immediately

The Many Elements of Credit Health

Building a healthy credit score and maintaining it can seem like a big chore sometimes. After all, there are many different moving parts that go into keeping a credit score and credit report in good shape.

Your CID is one of the things that protect you from credit card fraud and therefore protects your credit report. After all, if an identity thief uses your credit card information to make purchases online or over the phone, it can end up resulting in marks on your credit report when payments aren't made on time.

Even though maintaining good credit health can feel like a lot of work, it's well worth the trouble. Having great credit can make it much easier to borrow money when you need to, as well as ensure that you get the best rates and terms when you do. Over your lifetime, having a healthy credit score versus a poor credit score can save you thousands and thousands of dollars.

Are you on a mission to improve your credit? If so, head over to our credit building blog to learn more tips and tricks for boosting your credit score and fixing your credit report.

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Written By:
Shaun Connell
Shaun Connell is a personal finance and credit expert with a passion for helping individuals eliminate debt and improve their credit. He's enjoyed writing investing and financial content for over 15 years, with expertise in real estate, debt, banking, credit, and wealth building. His work has been seen by millions on the web.

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