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The Complete ID
Printer Buyer's Guide

This guide walks you through all the important considerations you'll need to know when selecting an ID card printer.

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Magnetic Stripe Readers

Magnetic Stripe Readers

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Magnetic stripe readers are used to scan and decode the information stored on a magnetic stripe cards. Like barcodes, magnetic stripe cards are very common because they are an easy way to store data on an ID card.

In order to use magnetic stripe cards and readers, your organization will need to have a system in place that will interpret and use the data stored on the magnetic stripe. Common types of systems include POS, time and attendance, and membership systems. Examples of encoded data include membership numbers that can be used to pull up member profiles, or a financial account numbers that can be used to process a payment.

Magnetic Stripe Cards Are Best For:

  • Membership & Reward Cards
  • Time & Attendance Programs
  • Cashless Payment Cards

Generally, magnetic stripe readers don’t encode or write data onto ID cards. Cards are encoded by an encoding module on the ID card printer at the time the card is printed. Most ID card printers can be ordered with an optional magnetic stripe encoder, which adds around $400 to the cost of the system.

In addition to an encoder on your ID printer, you will also need ID card software that can encode magnetic stripe cards. All AlphaCard Complete ID systems include AlphaCard ID Suite software which has the ability to encode magnetic stripe data.

Magnetic stripe readers come in several different types, from the all in one machine at the grocery checkout that you swipe your card through, enter a PIN on, and sign, to simple standalone scanners. Some magnetic readers will only read LoCo magnetic cards, while other will read both LoCo and HiCo cards. Learn more about magnetic stripe encoding.

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