card option


Plastic cards with a barcode

A barcode is the simplest way to encode information on a plastic card. The information is encoded in the form of black lines of various thicknesses. The information contained in the code is read using a barcode scanner.

Cards with a barcode – which code to choose?

The choice of code depends mainly on the code reader you have. The device specifications contain information about what codes are supported. However, most modern readers read virtually all popular barcodes and QR codes.

The second factor to consider when choosing a barcode type is the amount of information that needs to be encoded in the code. Codes differ in the amount of information that can be encoded on them. The least capacious code used in Europe is EAN-8, which allows you to store only 7 digits (plus 1 check digit), while the 128 code allows you to store up to 128 characters.

types of barcodes used on plastic cards

Types of barcodes – basic data

Barcodes are used to automate the collection and processing of data, enhancing the speed and accuracy of these processes. They find applications across various industries, each serving different purposes. This diversity results in numerous types of codes. Here, we provide essential information about these codes to consider when ordering cards with a barcode:

  • For code-128, code-39 and ITF-25, you can accept any number of digits, remembering, however, that a long number expands the code.
  • The EAN-13 code has a fixed number of 12 digits (plus the thirteenth control number calculated automatically) and for it the 12-digit range must be provided.
  • The EAN-8 code has a fixed length of 7 digits (plus the eighth control digit) and its range must be provided in 7-digit form.
  • EAN-13 and EAN-8 codes always have numbers beneath the bars, while Code 128, Code 39, and ITF-25 may have bars alone without numbers.

Personalization of cards with a barcode

Personalizing plastic cards using barcodes involves printing a unique barcode on each card. This allows for easy identification and tracking of card usage. This method is commonly used in the printing of membership cards, loyalty cards, ID cards, access control cards, and more.

To personalize barcodes, each card’s code must have a unique number encoded. These numbers can be assigned manually by preparing a database of codes that we will print on your cards. Alternatively, barcodes can have unique and random numbers encoded, which we will generate during the card production process.

database with EAN-13 barcodes

An example database for personalizing cards with an EAN-13 barcode

The proper database for personalizing EAN-13 codes should match the provided illustration. Each record represents a single barcode and consists of 12 characters. The 13th character in the EAN-13 code is the check digit generated by us.

EAN-13 barcodes consist of a sequence of digits. This digit sequence should be placed in a single column in the spreadsheet, one after the other.

Preparing a design of a card with a barcode

The graphic design of plastic cards must specify several key parameters, such as CMYK colors and so-called bleeds – the margin added to the design. Here you will find templates that can be used when preparing your design. For cards containing barcodes, it is important to create a white space for the barcode in the card design so that it can be easily scanned by a reader. The minimum dimensions for the barcode field are:

  • EAN-13 width 40 mm, min. 32 mm
  • EAN-8 width 28 mm, min. 22 mm
  • code-128 width 32 mm, min., 25 mm
  • code-39 width 46 mm, min. 36 mm
  • ITF 2of5 width min. 22 mm

Height for each code is 12 mm or more, min. 10 mm (the height can be freely changed, but if the height is low, the code lines may be too short in relation to the digits under the code).

Barcodes have been with us for generations – they are the simplest and cheapest method of encoding information on cards. Their preparation, printing and use are easy, cheap, fast and accurate, and code readers are widely available. If you don’t have a barcode scanner or you don’t know what barcode should appear on your cards, please contact us and we will help you choose the right code. If you already have a preliminary design of barcode cards, use the quote form to find out the approximate cost of making such cards. We also invite you to learn about other methods of encoding information on cards: magnetic stripe, memory module, proximity module or NFC tag.