Card Present

A card present scenario indicates a merchant, sales or market environment in which credit card transactions can be completed only if both a valid credit card and its respective cardholder are both physically present during the transaction.

Card present transactions are numerous and include those in traditional retail stores – such as department stores, electronics stores, apparel boutiques, etc. – cash disbursements, and self-service sales scenarios such as gas stations and grocery stores checkouts where cardholders can almost always use unattended payment devices.

A card present transaction is usually evidenced by the action of swiping a credit card through a credit card terminal. An Electronic Ticket Capture (ETC) system reaches out and acquires sales ticket information electronically. The information magnetically encoded in the magnetic stripe of a swiped credit card transaction includes secret data that helps validate the card. Some information which is rendered from this swipe include the card holder’s billing address, account number, card expiration date, pin verification code and other history and discretionary data, as well as Card Verification Value, which is a three digit “hash” encoded on the magnetic stripe of a payment card that is intended to prevent the counterfeiting of credit cards from printed paper purchase receipts. The buyer information is read by a computer system and merged with the sales information.

A card present transaction is also evidenced by an imprinted and signed credit card draft, though this secondary outmoded transaction method is used less frequently today. Receipt copies or “carbons” of such receipts have typically led to fraudulent use.

The opposite of a card present scenario is, naturally, a card not present scenario. In this case it indicates a merchant, market or sales environment in which credit card transactions are completed without the valid credit card or cardholder being present. Card-not-present is used to refer to mail order sales, telephone order sales and online internet merchant and sales environments.