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Barcode gift card and magnetic stripe card

Barcode Gift Cards vs. Magnetic Stripe Gift Cards

Gift cards are the most popular gift option for birthdays, holidays and beyond. Although you might be familiar with the card and how to use it, you might not understand how a gift card works technically. If you’re considering creating gift cards for your business, it’s important to understand the side of the gift card you don’t normally see.

Choose the Right Gift Card for You

You have several options when choosing a gift card for your business, including barcode, magnetic stripe and variable number. Each of these options refers to how the card is used and the card value and related data is stored.

Although each option has the same goal, they differ in the way they look and the way they interact with your POS.

      Barcode: A barcode uses a bar system to represent unique numbers that your POS system and scanner will read to track the gift card’s usage.
      Magnetic stripe: The magnetic stripe includes a black stripe that is unique to each gift card. These gift cards are swiped in your payment system just like a credit or debit card.
      Variable number: These numbers are unique to each gift card and are entered into your POS system during a purchase.

Of these three options, gift cards with barcodes and magnetic stripes are the most popular options in use today.

Gift Cards With a Barcode? Magnetic Cards? What’s the Difference?

Whether you choose a gift card with a barcode, magnetic stripe or variable number will depend somewhat upon the POS system you have in place. It will also depend on which benefits you are seeking.

Barcode gift cards are often the easiest to integrate with most POS systems. They use a barcode and/or a series of characters (letters and numbers) that you can then enter into your system. Your POS system holds all information about the gift card—monetary value and other data do not live on the card itself.

Magnetic gift cards, on the other hand, offer greater ease of use for the customer, as they use them like any other bank, credit or debit card. Magnetic stripes offer extensive data security and can carry more data than barcode cards.

Still Need Help?

Your gift card can be made completely custom to fit your unique needs. However, if the options seem overwhelming or you’re not sure which coding option to choose, we’re here to help! Send us a message to get started today.