Tuesday, July 14. 2009
I’m fielding more phone calls lately about the Magtek swipe reader. Consequently, I thought it would be instructive to briefly broach the subject of credit card readers, and focus attention on some of the Magtek readers that are commercially available.
The best way to introduce the topic is to have you take your credit card in hand and look at the back. Do you notice the magnetic strip that runs across it? Many merchants and customers don’t realize that there is a wealth of information encoded in the strip. Indeed, the strip may contain three tracks of information, including the individual’s name, primary account number, a country code, the card’s expiration date, and other discretionary data.
As a book must be read for it to be meaningful, a credit card’s magnetic strip must be read for the information it contains to be useful and applied. A credit card swipe reader accomplishes this task.
If you’ve ever paid for something in person with your credit card it’s almost a certainty the card was swiped through a credit card reader for authorization (and for eventual settlement) by the merchant. The device is used to read the magnetic strip on credit and debit cards and is also known as a magnetic strip(e) or swipe reader. However, a magnetic strip reader is able to read several types of cards that come with a magnetic strip on them, such as certain types of ID cards, and driver’s licenses, etc.
Credit card readers can be connected in several ways such as a keyboard wedge, a serial port (rs-232) or a USB connection. A typical credit card reader will be set up to read tracks one and two, or track two only. PC-connected, keyboard, and portable readers are also commonly used by merchants.
When it comes to credit card readers, one company generally stands out above the rest, and that is Magtek. The Magtek Company is based in
Magtek swipe readers are popular among the business world because they are designed to help merchants complete their transactions effectively, easily and securely. They are also compatible with most software applications and PC computers. Moreover, they allow several possible interface configurations to handle the transfer of card information into your system.
Some of their most popular credit card readers include:
Mini Swipe Reader
These economical and compact magnetic card swipe readers are designed to conform to and read ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and AAMVA (American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators) card formats. Yes, International credit cards and even driver’s licenses may be read.
The readers are available in various interface options including USB, RS232, Wedge, and TTL and don’t require any external power (except TTLs) to be operated with multiple track configurations. The reader itself doesn’t take up much room at all as it is just a little bit longer than a credit card. It is also very easy to mount as you can fasten it with adhesive strips or by securing it with the embedded threaded mounting hardware.
This Magtek swipe reader can be used with POS software including PC Charge Express and PC Charge Pro. Swiping customer credit cards is simpler and quicker than keying in the data and your transactions will also be eligible for the lower “card present” or “swiped’ discount rates.
MagTek Mini USB Stripe Reader
The Mini USB reader is designed to work with existing software applications developed for keyboard interface. The device is powered by USB which means no external power supply is needed. This compact Magtek swipe reader can work with any computer or terminal that has a USB interface. It also possesses dual and three track capability.
The information is sent as if it was a USB keyboard. Read data can be viewed in various applications such as Windows Notepad without the need for additional drivers and application programming.
This product also comes with a Human Interface Device (HID) Software Interface but a developed or modified application is needed to communicate with this reader. Here, unlike the reader that uses keyboard emulation software interface, data will not be viewable in applications such as Windows Notepad.
Full Size Readers
If you have the room, a full-size reader may be more convenient for all types of card reading applications as the cards can be swiped in the machine both forwards and backwards. These readers are compatible with both the standard RS-232 interface and the traditional keyboard wedge interface. The Magtek full size swipe readers can work easily with PCs and terminals, with up to three tracks of data from magstripe in the extended path to ensure accurate reads.
The Magtek SureSwipe Reader comes with a USB interface in both HID and Keyboard Emulation modes and can also be reconfigured in the field. The SureSwipe reader has two magnetic heads, one on each side, and is designed to gather three tracks of data from all types of ISO and AAMVA encoded magnetic stripe cards. The reader also comes with a green/red LED indicator that provides you with status of the reader operations.
Authorize.net Compatible Magtek Readers
Authorize.net’s virtual point of sale (VPOS) continues to grow in popularity. Here, the merchant uses the virtual terminal in conjunction with a card reader to swipe customers’ credit cards.
At present, there are four models of Magtek readers that are compatible with Authorize.net, listed as follows:
Reader 21040101 (mini USB stripe reader)
Reader 21040102 (mini USB stripe reader)
Reader 21040146 (SureSwipe reader)
Reader 21040104 (Sureswipe reader)
As merchants’ credit card processing needs are diverse, it is always important to get the right Magtek swipe reader.