Woman paying with credit card in cafe

How to Swipe Your Credit Card

Published October 24, 2022
2 min read

Key points about: Swiping a credit card correctly

  1. Position your credit card’s magnetic strip facing toward the card reader.

  2. Do not face the magnetic strip up in the card reader.

  3. When swiping a credit card at a gas pump, use the instructional image that is next to the card reader.

Swiping a credit card may seem pretty obvious to many credit card users, but with new credit card payment options, like tapping your card or inserting your card, there may come a time when you have to rely on swiping the card but aren’t sure how. Let’s review the proper way to swipe your credit card when making purchases and buying gas at the pump.

How to swipe your credit card correctly

When making a purchase at a store, typically there is a small payment terminal that faces the customer. This is a card reader and will allow you to complete your transaction without needing to give your card to the cashier. To swipe your credit card correctly:

  • Position the magnetic strip that is on the back of the card into the card reader’s slot. Face the magnetic strip toward the card reader. If the card reader lies flat, keep the magnetic strip on the bottom so the front of the card faces up.
  • From top to bottom, move the magnetic strip through the card reader slot.

Wrong ways to swipe your Credit card

There are wrong ways to swipe your credit card. If you swipe incorrectly, the card reader may make a beeping noise indicating the card could not be read and to try again. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Do not face the magnetic strip away from the card reader when swiping.
  • Do not face the magnetic strip up in the card reader

How to swipe a credit card at a gas pump

For drivers, paying at the gas pump it is a convenient way to fill up without the need to go into the gas station. Most gas pumps have a card reader, but it looks different than the one you might find at a retail or grocery store.

Gas pumps include a card reader with a small picture next to it of how to swipe or insert your credit card. Position your magnetic strip as indicated by the picture.

Other ways to use your credit card

Most credit cards today have alternative ways to use them when making a purchase at a store. Along with the magnetic strip on the back of the card, credit cards may be chip-enabled and have an EMV®1 chip on the front of the credit card. You can also inquire about a contactless Discover® credit card, where you can simply tap the card at a card reader. These cards can add an extra layer of protection when used at chip-enabled card readers.

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