How to Use a Credit Card When It Won't Scan

by Kathryn Hatter
Try scanning your credit card again if it doesn't work the first time.

When you swipe your credit card at a credit card terminal, the strip on the credit card sends your account information electronically between banks to verify that you have the credit available to make the purchase. If something prevents or interrupts this transmission, you’ll get an error message because your card won’t scan. Scanning problems can happen if the magnetic strip on a credit card becomes demagnetized, dirty or worn. You can still use a credit card even when it won’t scan, but the payment process is different.

Suggest that the store personnel check the terminal to make sure it’s working. Sometimes credit card terminals fail. If this terminal isn’t operating correctly, transfer your transaction to a different register with a different terminal.

Ask the cashier to enter your credit card number, expiration date and security code manually into the system to process your payment. After you hand the cashier your card, watch closely to keep your card in sight at all times for security.

Request an old-fashioned imprint of your credit card using an imprint machine. In this situation, cashiers must call the credit card company for authorization before processing the payment. After getting authorization, the cashier will place your credit card into the device, fit a paper voucher showing the dollar amount over the credit card and then move the bar of the machine back and forth over the voucher and the credit card. When finished, the voucher will have an imprint of your card. Sign the voucher to finish the transaction.

Call your credit card company as soon as possible to request a replacement credit card. Destroy your old credit card.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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