Barcodes and Magnetic Stripes - Which One is Right for You?



Have you ever wondered what the difference between a barcode and magnetic stripe is, or why it should matter to you? Did you know that you have a choice between the two when ordering gift cards and membership cards through the MINDBODY ID Solutions Department? When deciding which option to go with, there are a few things you should know to make the best choice for you and your business. First, let’s first clarify an important detail to narrow down the possibilities-key tags, combo packs and direct mailers can only be printed with a barcode on them. Full-sized membership and gift cards can be printed with a barcode or a magnetic stripe (magstripe). For that reason, we will be referring only to gift and membership cards throughout this article. Both barcodes and magnetic stripes function to store data: barcodes store data optically in their varied width and spacing of parallel lines, while magnetic stripes store data magnetically, as their name would suggest. However, the difference between them that is most relevant to MINDBODY clients lies in how they are read and what equipment is needed to use them. Barcodes are read by scanning them with a barcode scanner . Magstripes are read by swiping them through a magnetic card reader, such as the one you may use to read credit cards.  The main factors you will want to consider when choosing which to print on your gift and membership cards is ease of use, required hardware and overall pricing.


Let’s talk about ease of use. If you’re ordering membership cards, quickly scanning a barcode for every client that walks through the door will prove more efficient than swiping the card through a magnetic reader. To that end, if you plan to set up a self-sign-in station for your clients to utilize their membership cards without assistance from the front desk staff, then scanning a barcode will very likely be an easier action to complete autonomously than swiping a card. (We’ve all been witness to the need for multiple card swipes while in line at the grocery store.) Whatever your planned check-in method, if you’re looking to streamline the process, a barcode is the way to go. Gift cards, on the other hand, may not be run through your system quite as often as membership cards, so whether you’re scanning a barcode or swiping a magstripe, efficiency may not be an issue.

You may also choose a barcode or magstripe for your cards according to what hardware you currently have on hand. If you already have a magnetic credit card reader, you may choose to print a magnetic stripe; if you already have a scanner, you may want a barcode. Whether this is the case, or you will be buying a new piece of hardware to use with your cards, be sure to keep overall pricing in mind.

Let’s break it down. A magnetic card reader costs $100, while a barcode scanner is $275, but it’s important to consider the additional cost of 35 cents per card to print a magnetic stripe (barcodes are included in standard pricing). For an order of 500 cards, you will pay $175 more for magstripes, which makes up for the additional cost of the barcode scanner over the magnetic card reader. So, at that quantity, you’re looking at the same total price overall-you can’t lose with either choice! On the contrary, at card quantities above 500, you’re better off going with the standard barcode, as magstripes will cost above and beyond the cost difference of a barcode scanner. This will save you and your business money, and who doesn’t love that?

No matter which you choose to print on your cards, both a barcode and a magnetic stripe will do the exact same work for you. Think about how you want to run that card through your system, what hardware you already have or will need to buy, etc., to determine which solution works best for you. If you have questions about the ideal choice for your studio, give the ID Solutions Team a call and we’d be happy to help you weigh the options and direct you to the best fit for your business.

When you order any ID Solutions product-including gift cards, membership cards, key tags and more-you can start earning points through the ID Solutions Rewards Program to redeem for up to 25% off of orders down the line! For more questions on barcodes and magnetic stripes or to get an order started, get in touch with the ID Solutions team by:
Giving the MINDBODY ID Solutions Team a call at 877-755-4279 or 805-465-7727.