When you shop for things in a supermarket, clothing shop, restaurant, etc., and you want to use your card to pay, you slide your Debit/Credit card through a machine. What is that machine called in English?

  • 1
    It's probably a debit card, not an ATM card. ATM cards are fairly rare, and as the name suggests they're for use at ATMs (cash withdrawal).
    – MSalters
    Oct 28, 2013 at 7:50
  • Protocol and etiquette says you should click on the answer that satisfies your question, to mark it as the answer. Oct 28, 2013 at 10:08
  • @MSalters: depends on your location. In the US, we're liable to call anything that's plastic and credit-card-shaped but not a credit card an "ATM card", regardless of whether it has ever seen an ATM.
    – Marthaª
    Oct 30, 2013 at 13:55
  • Because the reader and numeric pad are usually a single unit, my former workplace called them "PIN pads".
    – TecBrat
    Apr 5, 2016 at 2:43

10 Answers 10


In the industry that I had worked in, we call it magnetic strip reader, or magnetic strip card reader.

But lay-customers call it card reader or magnetic card reader.

But apparently, the official technology name is called magnetic stripe reader or magnetic stripe card reader. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_stripe_card.

  • 3
    The whole unit is sometimes referred to as a Point of Sales Terminal (POST)
    – Jim
    Oct 28, 2013 at 1:51
  • 5
    Has Chip-and-PIN not reached you yet?
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 28, 2013 at 8:51
  • 1
    I've learned that I should answer the question as it is asked, unless I beg to get voted down. Oct 28, 2013 at 8:54
  • thank you very much. magnetic stripe reader is what I was looking for.
    – morteza
    Oct 28, 2013 at 9:59
  • 3
    Often shortened to card reader if context is sufficient. Oct 28, 2013 at 11:29

The simplest, most generic phrasings I can find would be point of sale terminal, payment terminal or if you want to be slightly more specific electronic payment terminal. These emphasise the location or purpose of the item as well as the kind of technology (They are not fancy computers, but rather end-points that tell faster computers how to run the transactions)

Calling it a magnetic stripe reader becomes inaccurate when you take into account smart cards that use a chip rather than a magnetic stripe, and EFTPOS terminal, while being more accurate, is a more of a technical term that people may not understand.


While magnetic stripe card reader is an appropriate term for a generic card reader used elsewhere (such as in door locks or employee attendance clocks), the machines used at point of sale have a more specific name (which is rather popular in Australia and NZ, but I'm not sure about other countries, even though the name originated in US and is generic enough): EFTPOS terminal.

EFTPOS stands for "electronic funds transfer at point of sale".



I used to work for a bank, and we called it a "Pos Terminal" which means a Point of Sale Terminal or an EFTPOS terminal.

  • POS terminal is the one where you can not payment..but just take out bills of order..as far as i know.. it can't accept payment..
    – Java D
    Oct 28, 2013 at 12:29
  • In some cultures, probably. We used the word POS like a contraction of EFTPOS (so 'POS, really). It was more like technical lingo.
    – Anthony
    Oct 29, 2013 at 1:05

There seems to be a lot of confusion in some of the responses here. There are two reasons for this:

  1. The term 'Point of Sale' (POS) is ambiguous. It can refer to the cash till or payment machine as a whole, or just to the bit that reads the card. Usually, it means the whole cash register, and sometimes includes the human operator as well.

  2. There are at least two types of payment card.

I used to work in the retail IT industry, and I hope what follows helps to remove some of the confusion.

If the card is of the kind with a magnetic stripe on the back, it can be read using a 'Magnetic Stripe Reader' (MSR for short). The user swipes the card through a slot, and the transaction can be authorised without further electronic interaction. This system is not very secure, because the data on the stripe is very easy to copy, and the 'off-line' authorisation relies simply on the old-fashioned method of the cashier checking the customer's signature. It has been in the process of being phased out for several years now, but is still used in parts of the third world.

If the card has a built-in chip (as they do now almost universally in Europe) then it is read in a 'Chip-And-Pin Machine'. Typically, the user puts the chip end of their card into the machine, and they then type in their pin number to authorise the transaction. The chip holds the customer's data in encrypted form, making it very difficult to copy. When used 'on-line', the bank's own server runs additional checks, adding an extra layer of security.

For more details of the differences, and why this is relevant to this question, please look at the wiki entry about chip-and-pin.

At time of writing, other methods of payment are being developed where the buyer can just wave their card in the general direction of a sensor. Some mobile phones now have the technology to act as contactless payment keys, doing away with the need to carry plastic cards at all.

  • The way it usually works on this side of the pond, you swipe your card through the magnetic stripe reader thingy, and then you either put in your PIN (if it's an ATM card/debit card) or you sign on the electronic signature pad (if it's a credit card). I don't see how chip-and-pin is any more secure than that. Certainly, "the transaction is authorised without further interaction" is patently not true.
    – Marthaª
    Oct 30, 2013 at 14:00
  • 1
    @Marthaª Primarily because the signature on the back of a card is not for identification, it means that you accept the terms and conditions of your card. If I steal your card (I'm pretty shifty) I can look at your signature and forge it well enough to get passed a cashier, but I'll never know your PIN. Oct 30, 2013 at 14:14
  • @Martha When using the mag stripe card in an ATM you do need to type in your pin, but for sale transactions in shops (at least in the UK) this was not required, and the mag stripe readers provided in shops often had no means of entering the pin anyway. The difference in security comes from where and how the verification of the pin is done. For a mag stripe, the pin is held on the card itself, and fraudsters can easily copy the information. For chip+pin, the pin is verified remotely by the bank's service using encrypted communication links; it is much, much safer.
    – Bobble
    Nov 1, 2013 at 12:12
  • @Bobble, I can guarantee you that my PIN is not stored anywhere on or near my ATM card. When I use it, the transaction is authorized via an electronic communication with my bank (or rather, the ATM network that my bank participates in). It's possible this used to be different in Europe, but it has always been this way in the US. If the phone lines are down, you can't use a debit card, because they have no way to authenticate it.
    – Marthaª
    Nov 1, 2013 at 14:50
  • Bottom line is, perhaps you should remove the bits from your answer that are (a) debatable and (b) have nothing to do with the language that is used. (So anything about less secure/more secure, and the part that is totally false in my experience, namely that the transaction is authorized without further interaction.)
    – Marthaª
    Nov 1, 2013 at 14:55

Chip-and-pin device is commonly used in Scotland.

The majority of cards in UK have a chip, and a PIN number is usually requested to authorise a purchase.


Colloquially, I've always called them credit card swipers or just swipers for short. A quick web search seems to agree that that's a reasonably common term.


There are lots of machine type in markets.. Some of the are from This reference.


1) Countertop

2) Portable

3) Integrated EPOS solution

4) Contactless technology

These are the devices which accept payment and simply called as Chip and PIN card Machines.


Another term is PDQ Terminal, where PDQ stands for "process data quickly".


In Canada we usually call them debit machines.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.