Understanding in Detail: AVS

One of the features we commonly emphasize when speaking about the advantages of Ezzocard virtual cards is AVS – Address Verification System (or sometimes called Address Verification Service). And there are reasons for that.

Over the past years, e-commerce has become an integral part of customers' shopping practice, thus pushing merchants into attaching particular significance to protecting their online transactions against fraud or scams. And card networks have always been there to help them meet the challenge and shield their trade from financial loss and undesired chargebacks. AVS has become one of the most sustainable solutions. Initially designed by Mastercard for mail-order catalog or phone-order retailers, Address Verification System got quickly supported by other big brands like Visa, American Express and Discover.

How does AVS work?

The operating principle seems quite simple. Each cardholder's name and billing address are naturally stored in an electronic form in the issuing bank's records. When a card user tries to pay online, the merchants usually require them to enter this data on their web-platform billing page. Next, the AVS processing system (payment gateway) connects to the cardholder's bank and verifies if and how much the billing address provided by the customer corresponds to the one recorded by the issuer. Once the check is made, the system delivers an AVS code then transmitted to the merchant's acquiring bank which, depending on the data match level, decides whether or not to authorize the transaction. This whole process remains invisible to the card user and normally takes no longer than a couple of seconds.

Though some e-tailers may ask customers to enter the cardholder's name, AVS checking is not relevant to this data, in practice. The system analyzes only to what extent the numeric parts (the street number and ZIP or postal code) of the billing address reported by a shopper match what the issuer has on file. Each payment network has its particular approach to interpreting Address Verification System codes, so the latter may differ with eg. Visa and Mastercard. In addition, payment processor may set up their own AVS code schemes to work with their service-users. Merchants, obtaining this information, may further configure their payment gateway and set the specific security level they are ready to accept to manage AVS codes responses. It is important to note that, in fact, the AVS result of a bankcard transaction does not affect whether the payment will be approved or declined, as it is usually up to the merchant to decide on the transaction's follow-up and customize their rules.

Example of an AVS check

Let's assume that a customer provides the following billing address:

51 Sussex Street, New York, NY 10033, USA

The only information verified by AVS is the two set of digits: 51 and 10033. If there's a full match with the buyer's address in the bank profile, the gateway gives authorization for the transaction by generating an appropriate full-match code (e.g., “Y” with Visa and Mastercard in our case for 5-digit U.S. ZIP-code and street address match). If there's a mismatch, all depends on how the merchant's AVS is configured: whether it accepts a certain degree of discrepancy (partial match of a street number or ZIP-code with AVS response codes like Z, A, N etc.), allows non-domestic or international card-not-present payments (such AVS codes as G, D, S etc.) while reinforcing their security with other fraud detection tools, or simply decline all suspicious transactions.

Where does AVS work?

In fact, the geography of this service seems rather limited. It is only available in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. Cards issued in other countries are generally treated as international and not supporting AVS.

It is, however, worth mentioning that even though Canadian or British bankcards provide AVS verification, there is a difference between ZIP-code format used in the United States (5 or 9 digits) and postal address presentation in Canada or the U.K. (letters combined with digits) which may result in confusion and lead to facing difficulties at payment. For example, a transaction with a Canadian card at an American web-store may be seen as non-domestic or international and therefore declined, if the merchant's AVS setting require ZIP full match.

It is also noteworthy that the experience of using AVS supported cards in countries with no opportunity for billing address verification (unlike the U.S., Canada and Great Britain) has shown that there is nonetheless a certain checking of the bill-to address which is usually limited to verifying the name of the country. The match of the country indicated by a payer and the country of the billing address on file is a sufficient basis for address verification and accepting the payment.

Why is AVS essential for online orders?

Even though American, Canadian or British most important merchants operate worldwide and easily deal with international cards, there are still quite a number of e-tailers which target mostly customers inside their own countries. Their AVS policies may vary and some of them may still set less strict rules on card-not-present transactions while trying to attract more people to their products. However, it is more than usual that clients from all over the world face order rejections from U.S. web-stores or online services due to a billing address mismatch arising out of the use of a non-U.S. bank's credit card. The fact is, such merchants are not often willing to tackle chargeback challenges or overburden their support and their fraud prevention systems commonly apply the highest level of security, usually combining the AVS check with other tools (CVV2, IP address verification, 3D Secure etc.).

So, if you ever plan on making purchases at an American web-store, subscribing to a service or booking tickets on-line, a bankcard issued in the U.S. and supporting AVS would be very handy.

Where to get a credit card with AVS?

Ezzocard online store offers Visa and Mastercard virtual credit cards supporting Address Verification System check and allowing you to make your online payments freely and anonymously on most Internet platforms. They can be registered in any name including assumed ones and in any existing address (any existing address in Canada for Brown VCCs in Canadian dollars). Our bankcards are accessible worldwide and purchasing them has never been easier.

Enjoy your shopping with Ezzocard!