M-260 2D Barcode and Magnetic Stripe Reader

What is a Magnetic Stripe Reader

How it works and how it is beneficial 

Magnetic stripes are widely used on many different IDs, giftcards, library cards and membership cards. These are very integral to many businesses today. To better understand what a magnetic stripe reader is, you need to know about the magnetic stripe it is reading.

What is a magnetic stripe?

A magnetic stripe is the black stripe you see on the back of most cards in your wallet. This stripe’s main purpose is to store data. Not only does it maximize the amount of data that can fit in one space, but it also is a safer option for the user. Within the magnetic stripe, there are three stacked lines of data stored. While they may not all be used, it can be things like the card number, user information, access privileges, and many more. The data within the magnetic stripe cannot be seen by the eye, and in order to get the data from the magnetic stripe, you will need a magnetic stripe reader.

Magnetic Stripe Card Reader

There are both high coercivity and low coercivity ways to store data in a magnetic stripe. High coercivity normally appears as a black strip. This kind can store more information and they require more magnetic energy to code them. This makes them harder to erase, making them more common on cards that need to be swiped often and last a longer time. Low coercivity appears as a brown stripe. This version of a magnetic stripe is not as secure and can more easily be erased. You will often see low coercivity cards for information that can change frequently such as hotel key cards, and transit cards.

What is a magnetic stripe reader?

Magnetic stripe readers are more common than you may think. They are sometimes also referred to as a magstripe reader. These readers are exactly what they call themselves; they ‘read’ the information encoded on the magnetic stripe. They can read the magnetic strips on:

  • ID cards
  • Access control applications
  • Processing debit and credit transactions
  • Gift cards
  • Time and attendance
  • Membership cards
  • Library cards

The magstripe reader is much more complex than a person reading the information on the card.

How do they work?

Magnetic stripe scanners use a magnet to extract the raw information stored in a card’s magstripe, this would be a string of 0’s and 1’s. The magstripe reader will then send that information to a software system like VeriScan. The software system can then decode the string of numbers into the actual information stored on the magstripe.

The magnetic stripes on government-issued IDs and student IDs typically do not contain as much data as PDF417 barcodes. VeriScan Plus gives you the option to associate magstripe scans with previously scanned profiles. This gives you the option to scan either your driver’s license or the associated magstripe ID to log an entry for the same profile.

What businesses can use magnetic stripe readers?

Many businesses can benefit from magnetic stripe readers.

  • Bars and Nightclubs
  • Hotels
  • Casino’s
  • Retail Stores
  • Banks
  • Car Dealerships
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Property Management


What types of cards have magnetic strips?

Student IDs, government IDs, employee IDs, payment cards, access cards, gift cards, public transit cards, hotel keys, membership cards, and more.

How do I know what scanner works best for my business?

Both kinds of magnetic stripe readers produce the same information. Deciding which scanner to use depends on the flow of your business and the intended use. The M260 is a great option for any business as it offers the swipe component for the magstripe as well as an insertion portion to collect information from the PDF417 on an ID.

Does my business need a magnetic stripe scanner?

Any business that collects basic customer information or needs to quickly identify it’s consumers are ones that can benefit from having a magnetic stripe scanner. With Veriscan Plus you can associate magstripe data with a previously scanned ID, so your visitors can either scan either to log the same profile.