What is a Magnetic Strip Reader?
When you buy a blank ID card, you will notice that they can sometimes come with the optional addition of a magnetic strip. This is the black stripe that goes down one side of an ID card and which you will also find on your debit card or a range of other cards.
The job of this magnetic strip is to let you store data magnetically and to read it as well. This works similarly to an old fashioned floppy disk or a cassette tape – both of which also used magnets to store the information.
The magnetic strips you get with blank ID cards can come in one of two formats: HiCo and LoCo. This essentially refers to the quality of the magnetic strip and this in turn tells you how many times it can be used before it starts to wear out. Order a blank ID card with HiCo magnetic strip and you will be able to use it multiple times to grant access to your building, or to make sales and it won’t run out. The strip on a debit card for instance must be HiCo to prevent it from deteriorating.
Meanwhile, LoCo is a magnetic strip that has a limited shelf-life. After a few times being swiped, it will run out and it will stop being able to hold or convey information. This is then when it needs to be replaced. If you’re wondering why you would ever choose LoCo, the answer is that it tends to make more sense for cards that are going to be used in the short term. For instance, if you are giving ID cards to your visitors (rather than staff) and they will be destroyed after a day or a few weeks, then there is no need to invest more in a long lasting magnetic strip. In such cases, LoCo is the more cost effective solution.
The reader then is of course the device that you use in order to read the information on your strips. This normally works simply by swiping the card through a magnetic field and from there you’ll be able to bring up information on a computer screen. This can include identification information – such as the individual’s DoB and their photo – and you can then use this in order to ensure that they should indeed be granted access.
Likewise, you can also use these strips to store loyalty points and all kinds of other information.