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Credit Card Glossary: Terms and Definitions

Magnetic stripe

A stripe of magnetic information that is affixed to the back of a plastic credit or debit card. It can be black, brown or silver in color. It is the common type of card in the United States today. Often, it’s called a “magnetic swipe” card, because the card is activated by swiping it through a device that can read the data in the stripe. The credit card’s magnetic stripe contains three tracks of data. Each track is about one-tenth of an inch wide. The first and second tracks in the magnetic stripe are encoded with information about the cardholder’s account, such as their credit card number, full name, the card’s expiration date and the country code. Additional information can be stored in the third track.
With the new generation of credit cards, such as chip cards, no magnetic stripe is needed. Also called magnetic strip or magstripe.

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