Plastic cards with magnetic strips / stripes
Below you will find lots of useful information on plastic cards with magnetic strips / stripes which include:
What are magnetic strips?
The advantages of magnetic strips
The disadvantages of magnetic strips
So, here is the first topic – what are magnetic strips?
To start of I think it is important to mention that we offer one product with magnetic strips. This is the full colour solid plastic 760 micron card. Plastic cards with magnetic strips are often used for loyalty and membership schemes. Often they are also used as business cards to make them look similar to a credit card.
Magnetic strips are usually positioned on the reverse of a plastic cards at the top. There are a few pictures/photos on our website should you wish to view a visual of this.
Magnetic strips are placed on the plastic cards in the form of magnetic tape. There are two different types of magnetic strip tape which we use. They are called High Coercivity (HICO) or Low Coercivity (LOCO). The Coercivity defines how strong the magnetic field is and how immune the data on the magnetic strip is to being damaged. This is quite a technical area so I will not dwell on it any further. Most of our customers tend to use a LOCO magnetic strip but if in doubt please check with the company who provided your magnetic strip reader. As a very very rough guide HICO magnetic strips are often black in colour where LOCO ones are brown, please be wary though as this is not always the case. Some magnetic strip readers can read both HICO & LOCO magnetic strips but again if unsure please check with your provider.
The magnetic strip itself has three tracks or lines within it. These tracks are used to record data otherwise known as encoding data. The different tracks can hold different information, this again depends on customer requirements but as a general rule:
Track 1: Alpha numeric (letters & numbers) max characters: 78
Track 2: Numeric max characters: 37
Track 3: Numeric max characters: 103
We can encode on to just one track or multiple tracks if required. Again, If in doubt, as usual, please check with your provider.
We can produce plastic cards with magnetic strips which are encoded or not encoded. The choice is down to individual customers needs. For example some customers ask us to encode a sequential number and they link this number to new members when they join. Other customer have the ability to encode the magnetic strips themselves. Just let us know what you require.
As with any data recoding system you will need a reader (magnetic strip reader in this case) and software to compliment it.
There are vast amounts of information surrounding magnetic strips available on the internet. however I hope that the above provide a basic overview.
As a bit of guidance and summary to this blog, I have put together a few questions regarding magnetic strips. These may be useful to ask customers if you are looking to supply magnetic strip cards / loyalty cards / membership cards for the first time:
1) Do you require a HICO or LOCO magnetic strips?
2) Do you require the magnetic strips to be encoded?
3) If encoding is required, please clarify which track the encoding needs to be on and whether any prefixes are required for your machinery to read/see the magnetic strip.
Plastic cards with magnetic strips
Plastic cards with magnetic strips are a well established and well used method of member identification hence there is a lot of information and support available.
Due to the availability of products the cost of magnetic strip equipment is relatively cost effective.
The data encoded onto the magnetic strip can be rewritten or modified (subject to you having the required equipment to do this)
Plastic cards with magnetic strips are not easily damaged with water or dirt.
The magnetic strips we produce are part of the plastic card and hence do not come off or away from the cards.
There are probably many more advantages but I just wanted to point out some of the mains ones. Hopefully this will be useful if you are considering the implementation of magnetic strips for a loyalty card or membership card. We can obviously incorporate magnetic strips on to any type of card for example some customer like to make their business cards look like credit cards.
The magnetic strips must be in close proximity to the reader to allow it to be read.
If the magnetic strip is placed near to a magnetic field the encoded data can be damaged.
Some people may consider that as the magnetic strips does not have a human readable element that this may be a disadvantage. Please note however with our cards, if we are encoding them for you we can print information on the other side of the cards for you. For example if you want a membership number encoded we can then include a member name on the other side. This can be embossed so a professional image is achieved. Just pop the require information in an excel file and we will work directly form this).
At the moment this is all I can come up with any more disadvantages! I am sure there are some more, so as always if you have any let me know and I will update the list!