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What's the Difference Between HiCo and LoCo Magnetic Stripe Cards?

Who knows the difference between HiCo and LoCo when buying? Good question, right? Knowing the difference means taking full advantage of your card applications. The key is understanding the true applications of the card use. Both HiCo and LoCo can be encoded with the same amount of data. The key difference is HiCo magnetic stripe cards are encoded with a stronger magnetic field that makes them more suitable for secure applications and for when the cards may be swiped more frequently. With HiCo cards, encoded data is less likely to be erased when exposed to an outside magnetic field. Possible longer life and keeps your card information well protected.

LoCo magnetic stripe cards are ideal for short-term applications where high security and long-lasting card life are less of a concern. The magnetic stripes on these cards are more of a brownish hue, while HiCo mag stripes are almost black in color. LoCo cards use a lower intensity magnetic field and are used for a variety of applications including gift cards, membership and loyalty cards, transit passes, hotel room keys, theme park passes, grocery club cards, and many more.

  • Harder to erase
  • Requires a higher amount of magnetic energy to record
  • Best for frequently used cards or cards requiring a long life
  • Resistant to damage from most magnets users may come into contact with
  • Can be read by any card reader
  • Card writers are more costly than LoCo recording machines
  • HiCo card writers can write both HiCo and LoCo cards
  • Commonly used for bank cards, drivers licenses, access control cards, library & membership cards
  • Less durable
  • Requires a lower amount of magnetic energy to record
  • Best for infrequent use or cards where data is changed often
  • More easily damaged by brief magnetic contact (such as a purse snap)
  • Can be read by any card reader
  • Card writers are much cheaper than HiCo recording machines
  • LoCo Card writers can write only LoCo cards
  • Commonly used for hotel key cards, gift cards, phone cards, transit passes

Card Tech ID carries a full selection of HiCo and Loco magnetic stripe cards.