Magnetic cards have been around for quite some time, magnetic recording on steel tapes was first used for recording audio. However, in 1960, IBM developed a way to securely place the magnetic stripe into plastic cards which we use today for IDs, debit and credit cards, grocery membership cards, time cards, and even library cards.
But how can these magnetic cards store information? Let’s find out!
How Do Magnetic Cards Work?
Magnetic stripe or more often called as magstripe are made up of tiny iron-based magnetic particles which can be shifted and magnetized in different directions. Instead of using motors to move the magnetic strip to read information, you use your hand to do a swipe motion. Magnetic stripes work almost the same with cassette tapes.
Now, let’s discuss how magnetic card readers read information from magnetic stripes.
Different Types of Magnetic Card Readers
Magnetic card readers is a scanning device that reads information from magnetic cards like personal information, card holder’s details, account numbers, and other essential information. It reads information from two types of data one is HiCo or High-Coercivity and LoCo or Low-Coercivity. Magnetic card readers can be read by computers through serial ports, USB interface connections, or even keyboard wedge. They basically work like a keyboard that encodes the scanned information from the magnetic stripe of the card.
To give you a better understanding of High-Coercivity and Low-Coercivity data, here are their meanings and differences.
- High-Coercivity (HiCo) – these cards are often black and encoded at 2750 Oersted. HiCo magnetic stripes store information more securely due to the higher level of magnetic energy needed to encode data to them. High-Coercivity magnetic stripes are often used on cards that are for long term usages like debit and credit cards.
- Low-Coercivity (LoCo) – these are commonly brown and encoded at 300 Oersted. LoCo magnetic stripes are less secured compared to High-Coercivity magnetic stripes. Low-Coercivity cards are often used on train passes, hotel key cards, and gift cards.
Types of Magstripe Readers
- Swipe Type – this kind of magnetic card reader requires the user to swipe the card across the reader to process the information stored on the magnetic stripe.
- Insert Type – insertion magnetic card readers quickly insert the card with the use of a motor to read the information on the card then releases it after.
Now, let’s check out some of the best magnetic card readers that you can buy today.
5 Best Magnetic Card Readers
Here’s our review of the best magnetic card readers that offers excellent performance, build quality, and affordable price.
#1: MSR90 USB Swipe Magnet Credit Card Reader
The MSR90 magnetic card reader is a hand swipe type of reading machine that has support for the USB interface. It adapts the high integrated magnetic card decoding chip for low electricity consumption and great interference proofing. The magnetic card reader requires no software or drivers to function and works plug and play. It has a compact design which is great to fit on tight spaces like cashiers and counters. You can get the MSR90 swipe type magnetic card reader on Amazon and it’s compatible with both HiCo and LoCo magnetic stripes.
#2: MagTek 21073062 Dynamag Magnesafe Triple Track Magnet Card Reader
This magnetic card reader from MagTek features a 6-feet long USB cable. It is compatible with most computers and terminals that have a USB interface. The MagTek magnetic card reader can read encoded data that follows ANSI / ISO / AAMVA standards. For the build quality, the magnetic card reader is made of ABS plastic which feels solid and durable. The card has an operating temperature of -22 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. You can get the MagTek Triple Black Magnetic Card Reader on Amazon.
#3: Yosoo 3 Track USB Mini Credit Card Reader
The Yosoo mini magnetic card reader is made out of black ABS plastic which and has support for most Windows versions and Linux. It has a compact type build that can fit on tight spaces like tellers, counters, and payment centers. This magnetic card reader also features a LED and sound indicator for visual and auditory feedback when swiping the magnetic cards. For read compatibility, it can read most card formats like ISO 7811, AAMVA, and CA DMV. You can get the Yosoo 3 Track Mini Magnetic Card Reader on Amazon and can last up to 1,000,000 times of card swipes.
#4: Posunitech Mini Msr100 Swipe Magnetic Reader
If you are looking for a low power consumption card reader then, you should check out the Posunitech Mini MSR100 magnetic stripe reader. It can read magnetic cards with format ISO 7811, 7812, 7813, and 7814. The magnetic card reader also features a universal swipe which allows you to swipe magnetic cards in either direction to read the data. For dimensions, This Posunitech magnetic card reader measures 90 mm x 26 mm x 28 mm which can fit most cashiers, tellers, and payment boots.
#5: MSRX 6 Smallest USB Magstripe Credit Card Reader Writer
The MSRX 6 is the smaller brother of the MSR90 and measures only 1/4 of the MSR206 magnetic card reader. It is compatible with macOS and most versions of Windows and Linux. The magnetic card reader has support for ISO 7811, ISO 7812, and ISO 7813 format magnetic cards. It gets power directly from the USB interface and doesn’t require additional power brick for it to function. The MSRX 6 can also do additional functions like write and rewrite information on magnetic cards and erase the contents of magnetic cards.
This sums up our review of the best Magnetic Card Readers that are currently out in the market. Keep in mind that when you are buying a magnetic card reader you should always consider the type of data that you would scan. It is important to know if you are scanning HiCo or LoCo type of magnetic card to choose the appropriate magnetic card reader.
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