Barcode or Magnetic Stripe?

Barcode vs. Magnetic Stripe

Having trouble deciding between barcode and magnetic stripe? Have not the faintest inkling of what their differences are? When considering the alternatives, keep in mind the following tips to help you pick the one best suit your business.


Data Storage

Barcode stores information optically in parallel lines of different widths and spacing, whereas a magnetic stripe card keeps data magnetically in a single black, brown or silver stripe.

The Required Hardware

A barcode scanner is needed to scan the barcodes in order for the data to be read, whilst a magnetic card reader is necessary for magnetic stripe cards. Your decision depends largely on which hardware you are currently using. It is highly recommended to match your choice with the device in hand to save cost. Nevertheless, always be aware of your budget, whether you are sticking with your old device or purchasing a new o


Let’s not forget convenience. Stores with high customer flow would definitely opt for barcodes, as it is less time consuming and more efficient to scan a barcode than to swipe a magnetic stripe card. The same goes for self-service kiosks. It is much simpler for your customers to just tap their barcoded cards at a scanner; swiping magcards might create an unwanted line of impatient customers. If you are looking for speed and reliability, a barcode system will be the right choice for you. However, in cases where the cards are not frequently run through the system, for instance gift cards, you can’t go wrong with either one.


While a magnetic stripe card reader costs lesser than a barcode scanner, it is more expensive to print a magcard. For high-volume printing, barcodes are definitely the cost-effective choice for your business.


Both barcode and magnetic stripe function the same. It is how you want to operate your business and how much you plan to spend that affect your overall decision to choose the best option for your company.