magstripe card being swiped to open door

magstripe card being swiped to open door

When adding an auto-ID capability to your ID cards, many people turn to the familiar magnetic stripe technology, just like that found on all debit and credit cards. Magstripe technology is easy to deploy and extremely reliable.

There are two different kinds of “magstripe” options available when you order cards:

  • HiCo – which stands for “High Coercivity”, with a stronger magnetic field (2750 Oersted)
  • LoCo – which stands for “Low Coercivity”, with a weaker magnetic field (300 Oersted)

Both stripes are placed in exactly the same location on the top of the back of the card, so they can be read by standard magstripe readers. HiCo stripes are generally black, whereas LoCo stripes are generally brown. Readers are often, for example, placed beside a door to communicate with access control systems.

HiCo cards are able to retain the encoded information more reliably, so for example they are less likely to get corrupted in the presence of an external magnetic field. LoCo cards are a little bit cheaper, but are more appropriate for short-duration uses such as transit passes or amusement park tickets.

We generally recommend HiCo as there is very little price difference, and for most applications it is better to have a more reliable read/write capability.

There are three tracks on all magnetic stripe cards.  Each can be encoded and read separately, according to different protocols.  InstantCard can encode automatically all three tracks on the magnetic stripe.