Billing address: Deeper definition

person's hand holding a credit card over a printed statement
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A billing address helps your credit card issuer authorize you as a new cardholder. It also provides the company with a location to send you your new card, as well as important billing or account updates.

When you order a product online, the shipping address may not be your billing address. You may use your credit card for purchases sent directly to others, or to a secondary residence. But your credit card issuer will use your billing address as its default address for you, unless you request a preferred address.

The billing address ZIP code and other details can be used to help verify your identity when using the credit card in question, through using an Address Verification System (AVS).

An AVS compares your card’s billing address to the address you (or someone with your card’s information) has filled in for an online transaction. If the two addresses don’t match, the system should notify the vendor through a code.

This helps prevent identity fraud.

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Billing address example

woman holding credit card while she types into laptop on her lap
Yuganov Konstantin / Shutterstock

Theoretically, if someone steals your credit card information and tries to use it online to buy, say, a smart watch, the person will have to fill in a billing address. If it doesn’t match the address your credit card company has on file, the transaction should be flagged through AVS.

This extra security measure helps ensure that if your credit card information is ever stolen, your issuer will be able to track illegitimate purchases easily and efficiently. It may even lead the company directly to your fraudster.

About the Author

Sigrid Forberg

Sigrid Forberg

Staff Writer

Sigrid is a staff writer with MoneyWise. A graduate of Carleton University's journalism program, she spent the better part of the last six years writing about business and retail. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking and riding her bicycle.

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