What is MICR – should you be using it?

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What is MICR – should you be using it?

Posted by Dan Widdis on 2/8/2018 to News

MICR stands for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition, and if you didn’t already know that then chances are you most likely don’t need it. Besides, it’s a lot more expensive than regular toner – and shouldn’t be used to print regular documents… unless you don’t mind wasting money.

What is it for and how does it work? Well I’m glad you asked. MICR is used for printing payroll, and other checks, more specifically – the barcode on the bottom of the check. This barcode identifies the bank and account information that the check is being paid from and is “read” by an electronic reader that banks use to sort checks before sending them on for clearing. If you’re using MICR to print checks you SHOULD remove and replace the cartridge with your regular toner before going on to print other documents, since it is so much more expensive and the only value it has is printing that barcode.

Why is MICR so much more expensive than regular toner? That is because it has a higher concentration of iron in the toner powder itself. Toner is made up primarily of vinyl and iron (along with a few other compounds), the iron allows the toner to stick to the metal surface of the printer drum then to be transferred onto the paper because of the roller beneath the paper as it passes in-between – that is the magnetic quality of the iron in the toner. The vinyl is the color (typically black) of the toner that you will read once it has been printed on the paper – the printer’s fuser will melt, and simultaneously, press the toner into the paper just before it exits the printer. Because MICR toner has a higher concentration of iron than regular toner it is easy for the banks to “read” the barcodes on the checks as they are passing through the reader. The cost of the additional iron is minimal, the price difference is in large part due to the fact that it is “out of the norm” and therefore commands a higher price.

Some companies try to cheat the system and print their blank check-stock with regular toner, in hopes of saving some money I’m sure. However, if this is done too often the banks will flag the account and may eventually refuse to process checks from that account. Checks printed with regular toner cause the check reader to stop so that a clerk has to retrieve the checks from the machine and manually process them – this is a costly event, and you know banks are all about MAKING money, not spending it!

What to be aware of when purchasing MICR if you’re going to buy blank check-stock and print your own checks:

·         Printer companies don’t make MICR cartridges

o   HP, Dell, Lexmark, IBM, Xerox, Canon, etc. only make “REGULAR” toner cartridges

·         MICR companies don’t make printers

o   Your printer may have the MICR company’s name and logo on it, but you can rest assured – it’s just a regular printer that can use a regular toner if you want to print regular documents

·         All MICR cartridges are either remanufactured OR new-compatible

·         Not all MICR cartridges are created equal! Just like knock-off Levi’s there are crooks out there filling toner cartridges with garbage and attempting to pass them off to the unsuspecting (naïve) buyer – if this is you… don’t get angry when the banks tell you they will no longer process your checks. Stop trying to go cheap and just cough up the funds it takes to purchase quality MICR.

·         Buying ridiculously HIGH-PRICED MICR is foolish – it won’t print any better, and the only thing people really care about is that you got their name and the amount right and that the bank will cash your check.

·         You should find a high-quality supplier like PrintCartridgePro.com to purchase your MICR’s from – ALL MICR from PrintCartridgePro.com is bank certified, meaning it has been check-reader-tested and approved for use by the banking industry.

·         To have your MICR toners listed on the PrintCartridgePro.com website call us or use the “Contact Us” link below and tell us what make/model of printer you are using and we will happily add the appropriate MICR toner to your account’s internal shopping cart (so it will be there the next time you place an order).


For more information about printing issues contact:

PrintCartridgePro.com, https://www.printcartridgepro.com/crm.asp?action=contactus, Toll-Free 844-230-6384

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