A Swipe refers the passage of a magnetic stripe card through a payment processing terminal to process a transaction. The card is run through the terminal which reads the information off of the card with a magnetic reader. It submits it to a merchant service provider and card issuer simultaneously in order process a sales transaction or related transactions for a merchant and customer.

Card-present transactions of credit cards and other magnetic stripe cards are virtually always passed through a card reader by hand by either the merchant or consumer. For a swiped card to successfully transmit the proper information used in a credit card or other bank card sales transaction, the card needs to be run though the terminal at the correct speed and the card and its respective magnetic strip must be in good condition.

Since magnetic card technology is largely based on audiotape and information magnetic tape technology, it similarly requires the said tape to pass through the reader over a minimum time span. The speed must be fast enough to accept all of the information laid out along the tracks on the magnetic stripe, though not too fast, for the same reason.

In addition to bank cards and credit cards that employ the use of magnetic stripe technology, magnetic stripe cards are also used for identification cards, transportation tickets and security cards.

Traditional credit card terminal machines, card readers used with modern computer point of sale devices, and even ATM machines all require the passage of a magnetically striped card from which they extract information to complete a transaction. Swipes can be performed along the side of one of the aforementioned devices or may, in fact, be “dipped” into a machine, such as often the case with automatic taller machines.