What is the cheapest (and easiest to use) magnetic stripe writer?
April 22, 2006 12:10 PM   Subscribe

What is the cheapest and most user-friendly magnetic stripe card writer? (A hi-co writer is greatly preferred.)

A relative has asked me to find him such a writer to be used in the service industry. He wants to write an employee's identification number to his/her card. This would be used for clocking employees in and out, as well as listing his/her open orders. Being the "family service tech," I had to say "sure I can help"- though, truth be told, I'm not too up-to-date on this stuff.

From what I can gather, there are the low-end "manual swipe" writers (around $600-1100) and the high-end "card printers" (a couple grand, at least). He doesn't need to actually print graphics on the card- just write an employee code to the magnetic stripe.

Security isn't a concern, and other methods (RFID or whatnot) are not an option (he's already bought the readers). All he needs is a writer. Are the "manual swipe" writers easy enough for a non-techie to use? He won't be using this everyday- just when hiring a new worker or replacing a lost card.

Though he doesn't know much about technology, he did request a hi-co writer, if possible. Additionally, writing to Track 3 isn't an issue, either (I gather that even just being able to write to Track 1 would work). He was hoping to only spend around $1,000.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
posted by Symeon to Technology (4 answers total)
If he's willing to buy from eBay, there's a few to choose from. A new 3-track Hi-Co MagStrip card reader recently went for about $100 (search Completed Listings for more).
posted by matthewr at 12:33 PM on April 22, 2006

Response by poster: Excellent idea -- thanks!
posted by Symeon at 1:41 PM on April 22, 2006

Just so you know... Get ready to enter the world of identity theft, I wouldn't give a credit card number to someone selling a mag strip writer if I were you. Doesn't matter if you're looking for legit uses or not, 99% of used readers out there are being bought and sold by people looking to make fake credit cards.
posted by pwb503 at 7:46 PM on April 22, 2006

Fair point, pwb503. Using eBay doesn't involve giving the seller your credit card number - you can pay with your card using paypal (you don't even need a paypal account).
posted by matthewr at 8:06 PM on April 22, 2006

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