Card Industry Glossary

Welcome to CPS Cards’ Industry Glossary, where you’ll find descriptions of common terms used in the card production process. Have a question that’s not addressed here? Contact us today!


Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. Plastic used for smart card bodies created by injection molding.

Access Control

Card used to allow entry through a device that verifies the card via swipe reading the mag stripe, radio frequency signaling of data on a chip, direct contact chip reading, or visual verification.

Account Number

Number assigned to a card that is or will be assigned to the holder of that card upon activation.


In a computer system, switching a card number “on”, activates it and allows its use for authorized transactions.


Automatic Teller Machine. Device that reads a card, checks a computer system for activation and usage status, and allows for a variety of transactions to occur from issuing cash to providing stamps.


Business to Business. The marketing and supplying of goods and services between businesses. Closed loop cards are often distributed through this channel.


Business to Consumer. The marketing and supplying of goods and services from a business to a consumer. All types of cards are distributed over the counter or through the mail to consumers.


Business to Store. This is a subset of B2B. In the card market it means the distribution of gift type cards to retailers on a store by store basis to replenish card stock.


Bank Identification Number. The first six digits of a PAN that identifies which bank is the issuing bank.

Blank Cards

Typically standard sized PVC plastic cards with no printing on them that may come in a wide variety of colors. These cards are then surface printed or personalized to identify them.

Card Carrier

Letter, POS piece, or advertising document to which one or more cards is attached. Attaching can mean inserting into holes or slots, gluing, or via stickers.

Card Security Code

A security feature on credit/debit cards and “Network Branded” prepaid cards to protect against fraud. The first code, known as CVV1 or CVC1, is encoded on the magnetic stripe of the card and used when the card is physically presented at a “POS”. The second code, known as CVV2 or CVC2, is printed on the card and used for “Card Not Present” transactions, typically online or by telephone.

Check Digit

A calculated number based on an account number run through a formula or algorithm. The check digit is recalculated when the card is used to make sure it is a valid account number.

Chip Card

Plastic card with a micro-processor chip attached to it, also frequently called a smart card.

Closed Loop

Retail cards that can only be redeemed for value with that same company or with other partners who have agreed to accept it.


A measure of the strength of a magnetic field. Fields are expressed as low or high by the terms LoCo and HiCo.

Contactless Card

A card with a radio transmitter and receiver built into it that will contact with another device without having to touch one another.

Conventional Printing

Printing cards with inks based on oil or water that dry through absorption or evaporation.

CR80 Card

Standard for all credit and debit cards as defined in ISO 7810. These card are 2 1/8” inches tall, 3 3/8” long, and  30mil in thickness.

Embossed Cards

Raised letters and numbers on the surface of a card.


The process of turning over unclaimed or abandoned property to a state authority. Frequently used in discussions concerning unclaimed or unused prepaid card money.


Method of representing electronic data on a magnetic strip through an electro magnet. Could also be used in conjunction with loading data into a card chip.


A gift card with the amount the card is worth at purchase preprinted on it.


Electronic Benefits Transfer: The distribution and redemption of government sponsored benefits via a card account.


The process of changing data through mathematical formulas so that it is unusable by an outside party.

Expiration Date

Date after which a card can no longer be used.

Gift Card

Card representing an account with an amount of prepaid money in it which can be withdrawn or spent electronically.


Global System for Mobile Communication. Common international standard for digital mobile phones so they may communicate with one another.


A flat image which looks three-dimensional to the naked eye. Hot stamped on cards for security purposes.

Hot Stamp

A process using heat and pressure in card production facilities to fuse a flat image, foil, or signature panel securely to a card body.


International Standards Organization. Central international organization for creation and maintenance of industry standards. Many standards exist specifically for plastic cards.


An institution such as a retailer, bank or government department that bears the economic and legal responsibility, liability and risk for a prepaid or stored value product.


Process of creating a card out of one or more sheets of plastic materials typically, and combining them using heat, pressure, and / or adhesives to bring the layers together.


A combination of two or more digital images and a special lens material that creates an animated effect on a card.

Loyalty Card

Retailer card provided to customers as an ID and / or actuating device for earning credits for using the retailers services.

Magnetic Stripe

A band of magnetic material made up of tiny iron particles laid on a card and attached using heat and pressure. Often called the “mag” or “magstripe”, it is encoded or written to, and read by an electromagnet which aligns the particles in the stripe, and then reads back that alignment and the characters they represent.

Membership Card

A card used to identify a person as belonging to a particular organization. The card may used visually or electronically at times as well.


The unit of magnetic flux needed to cause the realignment of iron particles in a magnetic material such as a magnetic stripe.

Optical Card

Card that works like a CD with variable information recorded on it.


Near Field Communication. Mobile phone contactless technology to enable phones to act as a transaction device.

Payroll Card

A reloadable prepaid card used by employers to deposit an employees’ pay in lieu of a check or electronic deposit to a DDA account.


The process of adding variable customer information to a card or form.


PolyVinyl Chloride, the most widely used plastic material for ID cards.


The process of adding sequential numbers to a card or form.


Personal Identification Number. Computer generated or customer selected number to be used with a card to authorize a transaction.

Prepaid Card

Card used for transactions that has funds allocated for that card in advance of its distribution.


Company that routes and settles transactions, typically financial, but could be used for loyalty and other value programs.


Point Of Sale. Merchant location with a terminal where a payment transaction takes place.


Print On Demand. Process of generating a printed paper or card immediately upon receipt of an electronic request. Could be variable text and / or background information.

Promotional Card

Cards used specifically in advertising and distributed to encourage customers to buy products.

Merchandise Return Card

Card given to a customer for the value of an item that has been brought back to a merchant. Also called a Rebate Card.


Radio Frequency Identification. Electronic communication between a reader and a compatible chip often built into a plastic card.

Stored Value Card

Also called a prepaid card.

Virtual Card

Number assigned to an account on the internet that can typically only be used to purchase products and services on the internet.

Secure Card

Cards that are have value from their presentation.

Screen Printing

Method in which ink is forced through a design-bearing screen made of silk or other material onto the substrate being printed.

Signature Panel

The area of a card where the cardholder signs for identification purposes.


Subscriber Identification Module. Computer chip and associated software placed on a card for the of GSM phones.


Unauthorized swipe reading a magnetic stripe on a card for the purpose of using it elsewhere to defraud the original account.

Smart Card

A card with one or more semiconductor chips imbedded in it.


Physical material used in the composition of a card.

UV Printing

UV printing refers to a type of ink used in the process. UV light is used to chemically dry these special inks in line.