Skip to Main Content

How to encode magnetic stripe cards?

Magnetic stripe cards include a magnetic stripe on the back, which are used to encode data. The stripe is comprised of iron particles in a plastic film. They’re often used for credit and debit cards, gift cards, discount cards, etc. They’re swipeable using a POS system, allowing you to access the data stored in the card.

Why Would You Use Encoded Magnetic Stripes on Your Cards?

Magnetic stripe cards are one of the most common types used. And although there are other options, magnetic stripe cards have many benefits.

  • Integrate with a system: Magstripe cards are a great choice when you want to integrate a loyalty program due to the ability to encode different customer data on each card.
  • Many unique uses: Magnetic stripe cards can be used for a wide range of uses including hotel cards, door/access restriction cards, ID cards, membership cards, gift cards, etc.
  • Security: Magnetic stripe cards use a simple stripe instead of data that can be read by human eyes. This provides your customer with privacy and security.
  • Convenience: A magnetic stripe card is simply swiped using your POS system. There are no numbers or alphanumeric codes to enter, so transactions happen fast.

How Do Magnetic Stripe Cards Work?

Magnetic stripe cards use a magnetic stripe on the back to encode data into the plastic card. This magstripe is made up of iron-based particles in a plastic film. In fact, each small iron particle is an extremely tiny magnet. Using a system with a magnetic pull, these particles are magnetized in different directions, or encoded, creating a unique pattern for each card.

When the card is swiped by your POS system, the system reads the pattern which decodes the data encoded into the card. This is why it’s important to keep magnetic stripe cards away from things that can cause demagnetization such as certain phones, strong magnets, etc.

How Is Data Encoded to the Card?

Data is typically generated and exported from the system you will have your cards scanned by, for example, your POS system, membership/loyalty, etc.

The data used for your card will depend on its use. For example, a gift card will contain an account number which is used to look up available monetary value within your system. A gym membership card may include an account number that connects the system with data pertaining to whether a customer has paid their monthly membership charge.

The data from your POS system will be exported in list form to a CSV or another file format. Once the data is exported, it is sent to Plastic Resource. We will then print the code on each card’s magnetic stripe. We take charge of the entire process, from card creation to printing and beyond.

Encoding instructions for magstripes will vary depending on the stripe used. Magstripes come in both track 1, track 2 or both tracks of magstripe (think of a track as a line). The number of characters is generally between 8 and 16 and could require a specific start number.

Not sure how to encode your magnetic stripe cards? This process will depend on the POS system you have. At Plastic Resource, we can walk you through the entire process. Give us a call to get started.

How Much Do Magnetic Stripe Cards Cost?

Depending on the type of card, design and quantity of cards you choose, your cost per card will vary. Through Plastic Resource, you can get an instant quote online. Get started simply by submitting the quote form and we’ll contact you to walk you through the various options. There’s absolutely no commitment until you approve your proof to be printed.

Learn More About Our Magnetic Stripe Cards Today

Have questions about our magstripe cards? Wondering if magnetic stripe is the best choice for you? Contact Plastic Resource or get an instant quote today. Have questions? We’re always here to give you the answers you need for confidence in your project.

Can't Find What You're Looking For?