When handing someone (e.g., a hotel receptionist) my credit card, what data can they extract?

Obviously the data that is printed on the card (i.e., personal name, various numbers, expiry date, credit card company etc.), but what about the magnetic stripe and the chip? Is there any additional data saved there?

  • 2
    There are contractual and industry rules about what info merchants are allowed to use, and how. I don't know the details, perhaps someone who does can chime in. This is an important question from a privacy and security perspective. Even if the merchant only scrapes your name, but also maybe has your zip code, they can likely pinpoint even more common names to a single individual... enabling a lot of personal data aggregation over time, across merchants, etc.
    – pseudon
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 21:38
  • 1
    For the stripe, see this Wiki page. Essentially, apart from some admin-data (how/where it can be used) nothing that's not printed on the card. Specifically, the PIN is not encoded (though I believe some of the information needed to verify it may be).
    – TripeHound
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 10:16
  • Related question on Information Security: What information about me do stores get via my credit card?
    – unor
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 19:43

2 Answers 2


Magstripe: No. (And maybe not even that much.)

Chip: Gods only know, but I doubt it. The purpose of the chip is to provide secure authentication of the card. It has no reason to do more than that.


I once worked on a project involving attaching magnetic stripe readers to computers to process credit card transactions. I forget the details of what was on the stripe, but it was basically just the account number, customer name, and expiration date. If you're thinking that it might have your credit limit or past 100 transactions or anything like that, no.

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