Advantages of a Magnetic Strip

By Steve Johnson

Magnetic strip technology is what makes credit cards work.
i credit card and hand image by Warren Millar from

Magnetic strip technology dominates most people’s lives, whether they notice it or not. It appears within several technologies, ranging from credit cards and identification cards to security and ATM cards. The Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) industry is entirely comprised of this versatile technology. Magnetic strips have become so widespread due to the many advantages that they provide.


Magnetic strip technology is extremely reliable and has been thoroughly tested over the years. Its longevity is proof that magnetic strips accomplish what they set out to do. Magnetic strips are very similar to the magnetic recording that is used within VCR and disk technology; however, they only record sounds and images, whereas magnetic strips record data.


Magnetic technology is extremely beneficial in that it can be altered, modified and rewritten continuously. Magnetic strips can be reused several times. This is why they are embedded on credit cards or other materials that continuously rely upon changing data.


Magnetic strips are exceptionally durable. Unlike magnetic storage that is used within tapes, magnetic strips are much more robust and are built into another strong material, such as plastic. Although they record data, magnetic strips are still relatively immune to outside effects such as water, dirt and moisture contamination. The only time that data within the magnetic strip is prone to getting damaged is when it comes into contact with magnetic objects or stray magnetic fields.


The majority of data that is contained within magnetic strips is considered sensitive; therefore, security is one of the most important issues facing magnetic strip technology. Since the data stored is not in a readable form, it offers added security to the user. Magnetic strips work via a tiny row of magnets. Any data that is entered into the strip alters the polarity of the magnet. The changes in the polarity are read in binary code as ones and zeros.