How Your Gift Cards “Work”

decorative image of gift cards

There is nothing we dislike more than getting that e-mail or phone call that starts off with, “Our cards don’t work.”

It’s very frustrating for everyone involved, because this situation is preventable! So, how can this be avoided?

Whenever an order is placed for a plastic card which includes a magnetic stripe and/or a bar code, you’re involving your point of sale (POS) equipment AND your point of sale provider. What gets encoded onto the magnetic stripe and bar code is INFORMATION (data) … typically an account number or identification number. That data will need to interact with your point of sale equipment. Many times the point of sale provider requires the data to be structured in a specific way, so that it can interact with software properly.

Take, for example, the requirements of one of the providers with whom we work closely. They require a nine-digit number, which must start with two specific digits. To illustrate this easily, we’ll assign the letters XX to the required digits. Then, the provider recommends that you make up a four-digit identifier for your account. We’ll call that YYYY (any four digits). The remaining five digits can be a numbering format that you prefer. Most prefer sequential numbering starting with 00001. So now, your data is structured like this:


To better illustrate the example, we’ll plug in some random numbers for XX and YYYY, followed by the sequential numbering starting with 00001:


Not all POS providers are alike.

In order to avoid the “our cards don’t work” issue – check with your POS provider before placing an order for plastic cards. We know that you’re often in a rush, but save yourself the time and headache of the cards not working, and ask about obtaining a “data file” from your point of sale technical department. It may be best to start with your representative.

We’ll warn you ahead of time – be prepared to meet any of these three responses. The first one will be a knowledgeable and helpful person on the other end of the line, and obtaining the information you seek will be easy. The second one will be an imagined “deer in the headlights” look, and you’ll explain it to them and they’ll probably refer you to the technical department, where we hope you get the assistance you need. The third may be resistance. The POS companies like to sell their own gift cards, at a much higher price (and we must say, lower print quality) than what you can get from us. Most times, if you persist, you will get the information you seek. We can also recommend POS providers we work with if you are looking to switch from an uncooperative provider.

We may not necessarily be the least expensive card printing company in the industry but allow us to tell you what we ARE. We are printing professionals. We hire knowledgeable and experienced individuals, from our sales team to our production team. We assist you by providing excellent customer service and truly try to make this process as painless as possible. We go through extra steps in the proofing and testing routine to be certain that your CardPrinting.US cards WILL work. In the end, we are confident that you’re receiving a superior product and have achieved our goals in making your ordering experience a seamless and easy one.