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How to Encode a Gift Card

Encoding Gift Cards / Loading Value on gift cards

How to encode / load value on gift cards?

Gift cards and Key Tags can "hold value" in one of three ways:
  1. Magstripe
  2. Barcode
  3. Face-Value (works like a gift certificate, with a one-time use for $10, $25, $50, etc.)

How does it work?

Both, the barcode and the magnetic stripe hold an encoded number or alphanumeric code, this data is unique to each gift card you sell. Think of this number/code as an account number, whenever you scan or swipe a card, your POS software refers to that account number within the POS database. it is then able to access the specific account info within the system's database, and load, reload or redeem value onto that account number. So it's never the gift cards that holds actual value, but rather your POS database that manages it.

Can I reload my Gift Cards after it's been used up?

Either a barcode gift card or a magstripe gift card are technically reloadable, it is important to understand that this function has really nothing to do with the gift card itself, but with your POS system.

Your POS system has the function of reloading value to your gift card's account number. The card itself does not actually reload. The magnetic stripe or the barcode will always keep the same original encoded data. The account in your POS database is where it gets reloaded, and when a gift card is swiped or scanned, the POS system then determines whether to load or redeem value for that account.

What info do I need to order encoded Magnetic stripe cards

Please see our complete guide to magstripe encoding. - But for the short version, you'll need to ask your POS provider the following 3 questions:
  • Magnetic stripe type: - Do you need a LoCo (300oe), or a HiCo (2750oe) magnetic stripe
  • Track: - Which track do we need to encode on, track 1 or track 2 (or in some cases on both tracks)
  • Encoding Data: - What is the specific numbering sequence that we need to follow for encoding the mag stripe. - A random database, or a specific 'starting number' if it's going to be consecutive/sequential. (some POS providers require a certain format, or a minimum number of digits, in order for their POS system to recognize the data)

What info do I need to order Barcode cards

If you are not sure, you'll need to ask your POS provider the following 2 questions:
  • What type of barcode do you need (a very common barcode type for plastic gift cards is type 39 or 128)?
  • The Numbering sequence required for the barcode?, It could be just a starting number or a random numbering pattern

What format should I provide the encoding data in?

  • If its sequential numbering, then simply provide us with a starting number when you place the order
  • For random encoding data, we'll need an Excel spreadsheet (.xls or .xlsx), or Comma Separated Values (.csv) files.