ISG Blog

What’s In a Magnetic Stripe on a Card?

Re-posted with permission from Capture Technologies and edited.

We don’t think about it until it fails to work and we barely even notice that it’s omnipresent on virtually every card we own, but what exactly is behind that magical black magnetic stripe?

Whether it’s your credit card, transit card, driver’s license or library card, or perhaps your hotel room key or employee ID card, it has a magnetic stripe that uses one of two types of coercivity to transmit the information necessary for you to live your life. Depending on the amount of information that needs to be stored and the relative life expectancy of the card, the magnetic stripe will be one of these two types.

Low-coercivity (or LoCo) cards require a lower amount of magnetic energy on which to record data and are thus easier to erase and have a shorter lifespan. This technology is used prominently in the hotel industry, where room keys with LoCo magnetic stripes technology can be easily transferred from guest to guest after a quick trip through the card machine. LoCo cards are typically low cost.

These cards are also widely used for access control in businesses that require employee verification for entry to a variety of locations throughout the workplace. Often times a singular LoCo card can be used to access parking, gain building entry, and operate elevators.

Members of the Identification Systems Group (ISG) have a supplied a LoCo magnetic card solution to a number of its clients including small businesses and school districts as well as numerous corporate customers throughout the US and Canada.

High-coercivity (or HiCo) cards need a much larger dose of magnetic energy to record the data found on things such as credit cards and are more difficult to erase. This relative durability is critical for these cards because of the intensely sensitive nature of information contained on financial cards. Hico cards are also

A difference between the two types of magnetic stripe cards is their ability to resist demagnetization. LoCo cards can become demagnatized using a handheld magnet much more easily than a HiCo card. Rumors abound of LoCo cards becoming demagnatized by mobile phones or close proximity to other magnetic stripe cards, though there is little proof of it. However, the same is not true for HiCo cards, which are much more resilient, especially with regular daily use.

Which Card Works For You?

Talk to your local ISG expert about your specific magnetic card needs, and let them work with you to find the right card solution. With more than 100 locations across the US and Canada, we can support your even identification and security need.

Contact us today!


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