Many people new to ID card printing ask the question, “Should I use barcodes or magnetic stripes on my cards”? Well, there are a couple of differences in them to consider when deciding which option is best for your application.
Both barcodes and magnetic stripes are inexpensive ways to store cardholder data. The difference is in where the data is stored and how the data is read or translated.
- Magnetic stripes store data that is read by a magnetic stripe reader by swiping the card.
- Barcodes do not store data themselves, instead, a barcode reader is used to scan the code. The code is then sent to a computer where it is associated with data stored in the computer.
Your decision to use either barcodes or magnetic stripe encoding will impact what you’ll need to look for in a card printer and also in ID card software.
- All card printers with resin monochrome printing capability can print a barcode, no printer upgrades are needed. Additionally, all ID card software is capable of printing a standard 1-D barcode, however, only a few softwares are capable of the newer, 2-D barcodes. Be sure to check the software specifications to ensure you get what you need.
- If you’ll be encoding magnetic stripes, you’ll need both a card printer and ID card software with mag stripe encoding capability. Most card printers and card software brands offer magnetic stripe encoding options—be sure the specific printer model and software edition you’re looking at include mag stripe encoding capability.
This is a basic outline of the differences between using barcodes and using magnetic stripes. If you have additional questions, talk to one of our ID Professionals at (800) 321-4405. We’ll be happy to discuss your specific needs.