Are Embossed Credit Cards still a Thing in 2024?


I have wondered about this a few times: are there still shops/hotels/restaurants/taxis etc. that rely on embossed credit cards and imprinters worldwide? And is it therefore useful to have a backup embossed card when travelling to more exotic places? Is this even still accepted by Mastercard/Visa?

Some newer cards (e.g. Cumulus) only have a printed number, even though they are “proper” credit cards and not a debit/prepaid cards (like Wise or neon).

Similarly, if a place usually relies on imprinters (and embossed cards) can they just write down the card info by hand if the card is not embossed?

Tried to google this, but information is relatively spares, or I used the wrong terms.

Thanks a lot!

They seem to be phased out now. The last time I had to use one was in some third world country taxi. But most taxis seem to have gone to some kind of digital app now anyway.

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Wouldn’t rule out some places still having an imprinter as a backup - but you can’t rely on it.

Issuing credit cards without embossing isn’t limited to Switzerland.

…or key in your number manually. Friend of mine had that happen with his credit card, when his girlfriend left him and managed to check in in hotels using his card details - but without presenting the physical card.

I would say yes, if it is important to you, i.e. critical car rental deposit and/or not travelling with enough cash to pay a few days’ hotel bill.
Last time I got my card run through that mechanical swipe machine, was a few years at a shady car rental in South Africa, to sign a “blank check” as a deposit. I refused to sign the paper and found another place.
I think in exotic countries prone to power outages and other “technical problems”, I would have one embossed card, just in case.
I found this thread (2023) which shows that in South Africa for example the “embossed credit card” is in the fine print of many car rental companies, even the big ones.
99% you’ll probably be ok, but during a power failure (or daily load shedding), at a pedantic car rental employee you might have to wait “until our system is running again” with a non-embossed card… or if they don’t have enough cars, your reservation might be the one to bite the bullet.
My brand new Certo card is embossed, so it is still a thing. Actually only the debit cards in my wallet are not embossed…

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I think the last time I saw those ratchet transfer devices in use was on a plane, a good 6-8years back. Can’t imagine even developing countries using them nor would I give it out these days, maybe some ‘burner’ card with little limit. Rather organize cash in such cases then give out CC details in full to write down.

On similar topic, often debit cards are often claimed to not work for hotels and car rentals. Works just fine for me the past years with Wise, withtout exception. Often claiming no debit cards accepted, it works fine.