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Gift card used in MINDBODY software

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

By Mindbody

Have you ever wondered what the difference between a barcode and magnetic stripe is, or why it should matter to you? 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. 

Both barcodes and magnetic stripes function to store data: barcodes store data optically in their varied-width lines and spaces between them, 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. 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.

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.

About the author:

Mindbody Enso


Staff Writer

Mindbody emerged from a simple idea: small business owners deserve the time to do what they love. From its first iteration, Mindbody software has turned that vision into the technology that links tens of thousands of health, wellness, and beauty professionals to the millions of clients they serve.


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