The End of Magnetic Stripes On Credit Cards Is Coming

Credit cards no longer have to have raised numbers on them. In fact, credit cards no longer have to display numbers at all. If you want to know the number of your card from Cardless, look in the mobile app.

It’s been a lot time since most people in the U.S. needed to run a credit card imprint. Visa stopped supply credit card imprinters two years ago.

Magnetic stripes came to credit cards in 1970 via IBM. Electronic transaction authorization started in 1973. Chips came to cards, more widely in Europe, in the 90s with chip and PIN following there. Signatures are far more common than PINs in the U.S. in part because of consumer habit, but also because laws don’t currently allow liability-shifting to the consumer when PINs are used for a transaction.

Many businesses retained imprint machines “in case the power went out” but transactions can now be managed on mobile devices and over mobile networks. Yet we now even have contactless payments via Near-Field Communication (NFC), first adopted by Barclays in the U.K. 14 years ago.

Now Mastercard has announced it will begin phasing out magnetic strips on cards.

  • They’ll become optional on cards in 2024
  • Won’t be included on new cards past 2029
  • And completely phased out by 2033.

EMV chips are currently used in 73% of U.S. face-to-face transactions (86% worldwide).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Just visited Iceland for several days. Only needed to insert my physical card at the Sixt rental location. Everywhere else in Reykjavik and small places paid via digital wallet using nfc or some parking areas via web form. Definitely preferable and easy (as someone who doesn’t like to handle cash in the day to day anyways.

    Any updates on digital IDs for states/global entry/TSA? Was this contemplated in the advent of the Secure ID movement?

  2. When will hotels get the same idea? The “Did you hold your room key near your phone?” question is getting a bit stale.

  3. As long as there is sufficient identity protection (e.g. facial recognition, digital fingerprint, etc), I’m happy. Don’t need to even to carry a wallet or actual cards. Apple Pay works well.

  4. I think the cards should at least have the expiring date written. Otherwise I am loving this idea of cards without the acc number displayed.

  5. The three primary card networks — AMEX, MC, and Visa — formed a collaboration to standardize card security. Originally, they required that all merchants adopt chip readers by about 2015. Europe was quick to convert. But, US merchants bemoaned having to incur the expense to buy a new card reader. So, the collaboration deferred and deferred and deferred the required date. And, this is what we have . . . 2034 is the final year of stripe accommodation.

    Before anyone decides to leave one’s cards at home, consider that not all phone-pay systems are accepted by all touchless terminals. For example, terminals at WalMart and Sam’s Club ONLY accept Samsung Pay and do NOT accept Apple Pay or Google Pay. And, some stores only have chip-readers and do not have touchless terminals.

    There is no word yet on if or when chip-plus-PIN will be implemented in the US.

    Yes, gift cards will need an alternative.

  6. I do like having raised numbers on credit cards. Makes it feel worthwhile using the card. But that’s just me

  7. First they came for the reel-to-reel tape, and I said nothing. Because I did not TEAC. Then they came for the cassette tape, and I said nothing. Because I did not C60 and C90. Then they came for my credit cards…

  8. @747always: it’s not just you. The raised numbers make the card seem “official” in some way that the flat cards don’t. And you can still read the number in poor lighting conditions (unlike the newer cards). But all that said, these are preferences based on what I grew up with. In reality, there’s no reason for the raised numbers any more.

  9. Surprised these dates are so far off. I wonder if we’ll see adoption sooner given the high uses of chip transactions cited above…also the fact that it’s becoming more and more difficult for me to find a spots that will take magnetic swipe gift cards! 🙂

  10. If the numbers aren’t on the cards anymore, how can I fake out the scammers that always call?

  11. @Retired Lawyer:

    “Don’t need to even to carry a wallet or actual cards. Apple Pay works well.”

    Yeah, you just have to carry your phone.

    No thanks.

    A lot easier just to throw a credit card in my pocket when I go for a run. The phone stays home.

    It’s a tool–not an anchor.

  12. I didnt know magnetic stripes came to credit cards in 1970 via IBM. All in all am loving this idea. Technology is really taking the charge in our daily lives. I have started to think all these sci-fi movies are real

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