What is an 'Embossed Card'

An embossed card is an electronic payment card with imprinted or stamped payment card details that can be felt above the card’s surface for taking a physical impression. Embossed details on credit cards and debit cards typically include the cardholder’s name, card number and card expiration date. Historically embossed cards were required to make physical impressions of card information for payment processing.

BREAKING DOWN 'Embossed Card'

Embossed card styles evolved from a historic functionality which required a physical impression of card details to be made for transactions. Embossed card processing was heavily utilized when electronic payment cards were first introduced. The use of physical impressions for payment card transactions faded with new technology which provided for faster and more efficient processing.

With the vast majority of transactions now processed electronically using magnetic stripes or personal identification numbers, it is generally no longer necessary to have embossed details on a payment card. In today’s processing environment many embossed cards have been replaced by cardholder details that are laser printed on the card at a lower cost. Today’s payment cards now even have chip functionality which makes payment and processing almost instantaneous.

Some merchants however may still have equipment that allows them to make carbon impressions. These impressions may be made through the use of what is known as a “knuckle-buster” or “zip-zap” device which creates a carbon copy of the embossed information. Merchants may used embossed card devices when electronic terminals are down, when a card is damaged or in special circumstances when taking a non-cash payment. Merchants can also write down essential information for card processing if necessary.

Embossed Card Transaction Processing

Merchants who may choose to use an embossed card copy for any reason will basically incur the same transaction process as an electronic card, just with more work and at a slower pace. Embossed card processing requires the merchants to manually enter card information either by phone or internet. The transaction is then processed in the same way as a payment processed with a point-of-sale terminal. The merchant acquiring bank serves as the main facilitator on the transaction. They contact the processing network who then contacts the issuing bank. The issuing bank confirms the charge sending authorization back to the acquiring bank through the processor. The merchant bank then settles the transaction and processes the deposit of funds in the merchant’s account.

Some merchant banks still provide embossed card and manual processing services to merchants. This type of payment processing requires considerably more time for the merchant. It also has a much higher risk.

  1. Card Reader

    A credit card reader reads the the information on a credit or ...
  2. Card Recovery Bulletin

    A card recovery bulletin is published by credit card issuers ...
  3. Cash Card

    A cash card is any electronic payment card that stores cash for ...
  4. Closed Loop Card

    A closed loop card is an electronic payment card that a cardholder ...
  5. Batch Credit Card Processing

    The transmission of all credit card transactions on a given day ...
  6. Standard Floor Limit

    A Standard Floor Limit is the maximum amount a merchant can charge ...
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    10 Considerations For Using Your Credit Card Abroad

    Credit cards can be the best item you pack when traveling, just make sure that you are taking the right card that suits your needs.
  2. Tech

    The Credit Card Chip: What Travelers Must Know

    Credit cards in the U.S are just getting ENV technology, which embeds a smart chip in your credit card. Here's how to avoid problems when traveling.
  3. Personal Finance

    3 New Types Of Credit Cards To Look For

    These three types of credit cards are becoming popular with customers looking to pay less fees and build up their credit scores.
  4. Personal Finance

    Purchases You Should Always Make With A Credit Card

    Credit cards aren't always bad possessions to have. There are certain perks associated with using credit cards as we make routine or irregular purchases.
  5. Personal Finance

    Credit Card or Cash: Which To Use?

    Credit cards are more convenient to use than cash, but they're not always the best choice. Here is why you should and shouldn't pay with a credit card.
  6. Personal Finance

    8 Ways to Avoid Getting Burned by Prepaid Debit Cards

    These cards have many differences from traditional debit and credit cards that can cost you money if you don’t know what to watch out for.
  7. Small Business

    How to Use Small Business Credit Cards

    A small business credit card can be a convenient way to increase your company's purchasing power, but must be carefully managed.
  8. Personal Finance

    Best Credit Cards For 2015

    The best credit card for you depends on your financial goals. Our choices for the best cards in 4 different categories.
  9. Personal Finance

    8 Considerations For Using Your Credit Card Abroad

    How to choose the right credit card to take on your next international trip and what to expect when you use it.
  1. Debit card versus credit card

    Can't figure out which card to use when making a purchase decision? Here is everything you need to know about the differences ... Read Answer >>
  2. What are some examples of common credit card reward program benefits?

    Learn about different benefits available to credit card holders including cash back, air travel miles, introductory rates, ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center