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Are You LoCo or HiCo?

How to choose a mag stripe when printing plastic cardsMore than ever before, my customers are ordering plastic cards with barcoding and/or magnetic stripes. That’s because this card feature is the key ingredient to managing a card balance, tracking people’s spending behaviors or ensuring they have secure access to whatever it is they need access to (a hotel room, a building, a certain type of equipment, etc.).

As I mentioned in a previous post on plastic card features, choosing a barcode or a magnetic stripe really depends on your internal systems, as well as what your needs are. But, if you’ve already decided a magnetic stripe is the way to go, then you have another decision to make with your plastic card printing (which I also talked about in that post): low-coercivity (LoCo) vs. high-coercivity (HiCo).

Coercivity measures the level of strength a magnetic field needs to affect the data on the magnetic stripe. The higher the coercivity level of the stripe, the stronger the magnetic field has to be in order to change the data on the card. Therefore, if your magnetic stripe is HiCo, it’s less likely to have the encoding erased. However, HiCo stripes can be more expensive and aren’t always necessary. Below are the coercivity levels commonly used for each card type.

membership cards
loyalty cards
fundraising cards
gift cards

access badges
ID badges
key cards
debit/credit cards

Keep in mind, the best way to decide which type of coercivity to choose is to figure out how frequently the card will be used. Also, you should factor how important data erasure resistance is to you and those who will be using the plastic cards.

If you are still having a hard time choosing which type of magnetic stripe to go with, we are here to help. Feel free to contact us and we’ll help you through the process of establishing which swipe card application will best fit your needs.

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