Address Verification Service (AVS)

Simple definition
Matching your address with the card's address.
Expanded definition
A security feature that verifies the address provided by the cardholder matches the issuer's records.


When you use your credit or debit card online or over the phone, an important verification process happens behind the scenes. Address Verification Service (AVS) helps validate that transactions match your card's billing address. Understanding how AVS works can help you shop securely and avoid disruptions.

What is Address Verification Service (AVS)?

AVS is a fraud prevention system used by card issuers and merchants during card-not-present transactions like online or phone purchases.

Here's how it works:

  1. During checkout, you provide your card billing address.
  2. The merchant passes this address to the card network to check against the address your card issuer has on file.
  3. If the addresses match, the transaction is verified. But if they differ, the transaction may be declined as a potential fraud risk.

AVS helps issuers and merchants confirm a legitimate cardholder is making the purchase by cross-checking key identity data.

Why Do Transactions Get Declined by AVS?

There are a few reasons an AVS check can fail and temporarily block a transaction:

  • You recently relocated and didn't update your card billing address.
  • You accidentally enter the wrong house number during checkout.
  • The merchant passes the address to the network incorrectly.
  • The card issuer's billing address records are outdated.

AVS is an imperfect system - the criteria for address "matches" also varies by issuer. But overall it does effectively flag suspicious transactions for further verification.

Best Practices for Smooth AVS Checks

To avoid headaches from failed AVS checks:

  • Update your card issuer immediately after moving.
  • Double check billing address accuracy during online checkout.
  • Use autofill address features to prevent typos.
  • Review statements for AVS-declined transactions and update details.
  • Contact issuers if legitimate purchases are frequently flagged.
  • Allow extra time for issuer address changes before shopping online.

With vigilance around billing address accuracy, you can minimize disruptions from AVS and maximize security.

The Bottom Line

AVS provides an essential layer of fraud protection by verifying card transactions align with your address. Being mindful of address changes and data entry can help ensure this verification doesn't mistakenly block your legitimate purchases. Keeping issuer address records current makes for smooth sailing at checkout.