Magnetic Stripe Card Definition

A magnetic stripe card can be identified visually by the usually black or dark brown magnetic stripe that runs along one side of the card. Virtually all credit and debit cards are magnetic stripe cards. The magnetic stripe holds encoded data that can be read by a machine when the card is ‘swiped’ through a slot. This spares the user from typing in or otherwise mechanically transmitting data and the process is virtually error free. The magnetic stripe contains between 16 and 140 characters of data, depending upon the precise implementation-most credit cards hold about 78 characters of data-enough to encode the card number, an expiration date, the account holder’s name, and a few other items.