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Should You Sign the Back of Your Credit Card?

The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

If you have recently opened a new credit card account, you may be wondering if you should sign the back of your credit card. Yes, you should. It only takes about 30 seconds to sign your credit card. However, don’t feel that doing so will make your card more secure — it won’t. Years ago signatures were required on the back of credit cards as an attempt to prevent credit card fraud. It’s now an outdated practice that lingers despite the use of modern technology.

Nonetheless, you should sign your card, on the off chance that you’re traveling through a small town where a mom and pop shop uses outdated tech and does check for your signature. Since that’s a very rare possibility, it’s important to just be smart about using, and storing, your credit card.

Where do you sign a credit card?

You should sign your credit card in the signature panel — a rectangular area on the back side of most credit cards. It’s often white or light gray in color with the signature panel code (often referred to as a security number) to the right.

For example, Discover cards have a signature box below the magnetic strip, as does the Chase Freedom Flex℠. Barclays has a small signature box in the same location.

What is a “signature panel code”?

The signature panel code (SPC) is the three or four digit number that’s in the signature box. This signature panel code is generally required for online and phone transactions. For Visa and Mastercards, the code is three digits. However, with American Express cards, it’s a four-digit number found on the front of the credit card.

On an online order form you might see one of the following acronyms for this numerical code:

  • CSC: Card security code
  • CVC: Card verification code
  • CVD: Card verification data
  • CVN: Card verification number
  • CVV: Card verification value

The number on your card is unique to you and adds an extra layer of security to your credit card in an online or phone transaction. Without knowing the SPC, your credit card number may be useless in most transactions.

How to sign the back of a credit card

When you receive your new credit card in the mail, you should sign it as soon as you have activated it online or over the phone. You should sign the card legibly with the same signature that you would use to sign any other document, using a pen that won’t smear or fade away.

Should you write “See ID” on the back of your credit card?

In general, writing “See ID” in the signature slot is unnecessary, since it won’t provide extra security. In years’ past, customers had to hand their credit cards to cashiers to process the transactions. Once the card was swiped, you’d sign your name, either on a paper receipt or digitally on the cashier’s screen.

Before returning your card, the cashier was supposed to compare the two signatures to verify you were the owner of the card. By writing “See ID” the idea was that the cashier would ask to see your driver’s license. This was intended to provide an extra layer of protection in the event that your credit card was lost or stolen. However as the practice of checking signatures has declined, so has the chance that this will protect you from credit card fraud.

So go ahead and sign your card and remember: If you become a victim of theft or identity theft, you should call your bank to stop transactions on your credit cards at once.

What’s the best pen to sign the back of a credit card?

You should use a felt-tip pen, like a fine point Sharpie because the ink in a regular ballpoint pen will not stick to the card’s plastic surface.

To avoid smearing your signature and getting ink all over the card and your hands, let the signature dry for a couple of minutes before putting it in your wallet.

What if you can’t sign the back of your credit card?

There’s no need to panic if your new card has no place for your signature — this is intentional. As retailers are shifting away from requiring signatures, card issuers are starting to phase out the signature panel on physical cards.

By using EMV chips in credit cards, technology is now doing what was once the task of the cashier — a final authorization of your transaction.

Since the card rarely, if ever, leaves your possession, there’s no immediate consequence of not signing your credit card. If you do drop your card and it’s picked up and used fraudulently, your credit card likely has a zero-liability protection policy which means you aren’t liable for purchases that you didn’t make.

That said, don’t let technology give you a false sense of security. Do use common sense when using and storing your credit cards.

  • Don’t let others use your credit cards.
  • Keep credit cards in a safe place at all times.
  • Monitor your credit card charges online and notify your bank to dispute suspicious charges.
  • Avoid giving credit card information over the phone; if you must, do it in the privacy of your home.
  • Only make online purchases from secure websites that have an “S” after the “http” portion of the URL.
  • Consider credit-monitoring services to help protect your identity and finances.