Membership ID cards allow you to limit access to your business, as gyms and warehouse retailers often do, or offer repeat discounts to regular customers. Although you can outsource membership card production, you can create the cards in-house with some basic software and equipment.

ID Software and Bar-code Generator

The simplest way to create bar-coded membership ID cards is with a dedicated ID design software package. You can choose from either free or paid software packages, but most ID software supports bar-code generation. A dedicated ID card application often streamlines membership card production by consolidating several functions, such as bar-code generation, image insertion and adding information to your existing databases. Choose software that can integrate with your existing information technology infrastructure and with the card printer you intend to use.

Card Printer and Reader

Card printers come in several types that range from simple, single-side printers to high-end, double-side printers that offer lamination and embossing features. While single-side printers generally serve for basic functions, such as membership discount cards, high-end printers provide the features necessary for more robust security. You also need a laser scanner to read basic bar codes. If you opt for more complex bar codes, such as QR codes, you need a dedicated QR code scanner to interpret the information encoded in the bar code. If you want to include a member’s picture, you need a digital camera that interfaces with your computer or ID software.

Card Production

Specific steps in creating the actual card depend on the setup in the software but typically follow a general pattern. You add the information you want to appear on the card, such as a headshot image, member name and a bar code created by the software. That image is transmitted to the card printer, which prints the membership card.