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Track format of magnetic stripe cards (tracks 1 and 2)



This page results from research I had to do for our CCAuthorize FileMaker Pro plug-in. It summarizes the format of credit card magnetic stripe data for Track 1 and Track 2 which is used for financial transactions, i.e., credit and debit cards. (Track 3 [THRIFT-TTS] is less often used and not covered here, see ISO 4909 for Track 3 reference info.) Track 2 magnetic stripe data is used for financial transactions, i.e., credit and debit cards. This information is excerted from the international standards ISO 7813 (tracks 1 and 2) documentation.


Java and JavaScript Track Data Parsers

This article provides enough information for parsing track data yourself, or you can download Java and JavaScript code for parsing magstripe Track 1 and Track 2 strings and save yourself the trouble reinventing that wheel.

Track 1 (IATA)

Track 1 ("International Air Transport Association") stores more information than Track 2, and contains the cardholder's name as well as account number and other discretionary data. This track is sometimes used by the airlines when securing reservations with a credit card.

Track 2 (ABA)

Track 2 ("American Banking Association,") is currently most commonly used, though credit card companies have been pushing for everyone to move to Track 1. This is the track that is read by ATMs and credit card checkers. The ABA designed the specifications of this track and all world banks must abide by it. It contains the cardholder's account, encrypted PIN, plus other discretionary data.

*** Track 1 Layout: ***     

             | SS | FC |  PAN  |   Name   | FS |  Additional Data | ES | LRC |

 SS=Start Sentinel "%"
 FC=Format Code
 PAN=Primary Acct. # (19 digits max)
 FS=Field Separator "^"
 Name=26 alphanumeric characters max.
 Additional Data=Expiration Date, offset, encrypted PIN, etc.
 ES=End Sentinel "?"
 LRC=Longitudinal Redundancy Check


   *** Track 2 Layout: ***

           | SS |  PAN  | FS |  Additional Data  | ES | LRC |

 SS=Start Sentinel ";"
 PAN=Primary Acct. # (19 digits max)
 FS=Field Separator "="
 Additional Data=Expiration Date, offset, encrypted PIN, etc.
 ES=End Sentinel "?"
 LRC=Longitudinal Redundancy Check 


   *** Track 3 Layout: **  Similar to tracks 1 and 2.  Almost never used.
                           Many different data standards used.


For much more information on magnetic track data formats, card readers and related information, visit the documents at http://www.gae.ucm.es/~padilla/extrawork/stripe.html which I found more useful than most of the other sources I came across. I exercepted most of the information here from this document http://www.gae.ucm.es/~padilla/extrawork/tracks.html