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Barcode vs. Magnetic Stripe Gift Cards: Which One To Choose? – SilkCards

You really can’t go wrong with giving a gift card as a gift. It’s a way to say thank you or congratulations that allows someone to use the gift in their own way. It also encourages repeat business and loyalty to a company. With so many options, choosing a gift card is overwhelming, so in this article, we’ll discuss how to choose between barcode or magnetic stripe gift cards. Both are useful and work well but have a few differences.


Let’s look at barcodes first, including how they work, equipment needed to use them, ease of use, whether or not they’re secure, and how durable they are.

How a Barcode Works

Data is encoded by interpreting the data into the visual barcode, using varied width lines and spaces.

Equipment Needed for Barcodes

A handheld or built-in scanner reads the barcode, importing it into the company’s POS (point of sale).

Barcode Ease of Use

Customers tend to prefer barcodes because they are so easy to use. They swipe easily and don’t require assistance the way magnetic stripes sometimes do.

Security of Barcodes

When it comes to security, barcodes, unfortunately, are easy to reproduce. For most of us, we wouldn’t realize it, but barcode interpreting programs are easy to come by, and barcodes are easily copied, making them a bit less secure if not treated carefully.

Durability of Barcodes

Barcodes are exposed, and that means scratches easily happen, making the barcode difficult to read.

Magnetic Stripes

Now let’s take the same look at magnetic stripe gift cards:

How a Magnetic Stripe Works

Magnetic stripe gift cards store data magnetically within the stripe of the card.

Equipment Needed To Read a Magnetic Stripe

A magnetic stripe reader imports the data into the company’s POS (point of sale). We see these readers at stores when using credit cards.

Magnetic Stripe Ease of Use

Magnetic stripes often require personnel to do the swiping, making them a bit less friendly for customers.

Security With Magnetic Stripe

The security with magnetic stripes is excellent since the stripe hides the encoding. The encoding can’t be seen, making it tougher to copy.

Durability of Magnetic Stripes

Magnetic stripes are susceptible to being erased when near another magnet. This destroys all of the data. Thankfully, it’s a rare occurrence. Magnetic stripes are tough to destroy. Even when scratched, they are often still readable.

We hope our list of the pros and cons of both types of gift cards helps when you are choosing between barcode or magnetic stripe gift cards. Both are great options. It’s up to you to decide what works best for your customers. At Silk Cards, we specialize in custom logo gift cards and offer both barcode and magnetic stripe cards. Contact us for more information or browse our online store. Gift cards are a great option for your business, and we’re here to help.