What You Use to Swipe Credit Cards

Magnetic strip readers and card readers have an electric sensor that reads the magnetic strip on the back of a credit or debit card.

What's the advantage of an integrated MSR?

If you're going to accept credit cards, then you need a magnetic strip reader — however, not everyone chooses to have an integrated MSR. The picture to the right shows how an integrated MSR fits with a standard touch PC. The greatest advantage to this setup is that the POS software will automatically read when a card is swiped and know the correct amount to charge.

The alternative setup is a PC connected to an external credit card machine, which requires the cashier to manually enter the transaction amount. Not only does this create an extra step in the checkout process, but manual entry is prone to human error as the wrong transaction total could be entered. For speed and accuracy, we always recommend an integrated MSR.

If I have a pinpad that accepts credit cards, do I still need an MSR?

Maybe. An extra MSR can always serve as a backup in case your pinpad goes down. On a day-to-day basis, if your employees use ID cards to clock in, then they'll still need to swipe their card with the MSR.

What else can MSRs read?

In addition to credit and debit cards, MSRs can also read gift cards, customer cards, loyalty cards, and employee cards.

Are all MSRs the same?

No, MSR technology can vary. The most basic MSR simply transmits data (e.g., the credit card number) through a USB cable. Newer models use Bluetooth to transmit data. Encrypted MSRs are becoming increasing popular as well, encrypting the data on the card before transmitting it. If your POS software supports an encrypted MSR, then the credit card information never enters the software and it cannot be stolen.