Barcode vs. Magnetic Stripe: Which to Choose as a Data Option for Your Card

Barcode vs. Magnetic Stripe

When helping customers choose the best data option for their ID card, you need to know the difference between the ID card with a barcode and a magnetic stripe card. When you create a card program, the first thing you need to keep in mind is to use the technology that goes with your POS. Be it loyalty cards, custom discount cards, or a membership card, the technology to be used in it is important.

The meticulous differences between the two technologies may have a huge impact on your operations and thus, you must choose carefully. Let us know the advantages and disadvantages of barcode and magnetic stripe cards and which one to choose.


Encoding is a method of placing the variable data on a card. The data encodes and is magnetically stored on the track of the magnetic stripe, or the barcode is used as a symbol font that interprets the data as a visual barcode having a variable width line and space.

Software and Equipment

Equipment and software are the main factors that decide which choice is best for your business. Use the scanner to read the barcode, whether it is a handheld device or built-in, and the barcode is imported into the company’s POS. By swiping the card reader, the data is imported into the company’s POS, in case of a magnetic stripee.

Ease of Use

A large aspect to consider is ease of use. On average, the ID card with a bar code is easier to use. The error of the optical reader is very rare, and the scan is very simple. On the other hand, reading an ID card with a magnetic stripe, is sometimes very difficult. There is no doubt that you have experienced this problem when you try to purchase some things in the store. This type of card may need to refresh the reader multiple times to collect information.

In addition, there are usage error factors; including swiping too quickly, or swiping with the stripe facing the wrong direction. Therefore, the barcode ID card can be a better choice because of handling speed, and the security problem is low. For example, a member-based place (such as gym) often uses a barcode card reader as a simple inspection process. Most room access keys, however, use a magnetic stripe card, because an unauthorized access to the room is more harmful a free exercise in the gym. For greater security, organizations can even utilize RFID chip cards.


Security considerations are very important aspects of barcodes and magnetic stripes. Essentially, barcodes are less secure, because it is easy to see a special identification code. If someone wants to use a barcode forging ID card, it is very simple to use a copier or taking a picture of the card.

On the other hand, the card with magnetic stripes is safer because special coding information cannot be seen, and must be retrieved with a magnetic stripe reader. Of course, this card can still be damaged, but this requires different complexity and makes crimes more difficult. In addition, to use the retrieved information, the hacker requires a machine that can encode the data to the copy card, thereby creating another obstacle.


Even standard use requires the cards to be durable. Barcode cards can be damaged by scratching, or numbers can be wiped off, making it difficult to read. Instead, the magnetic stripe is more durable, and can last longer, but it is also easy to erase or damage the encoded magnet.

Therefore, you can see that there is no comprehensive answer here, about which one to choose from barcode and magnetic stripe cards. Be it custom discount cards or membership cards, you can use any technology as long as it meets your requirements. Selecting the data option depends on the data you want to store, the device/software, ease of use, and the required security and durability.

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