The Complete ID
Printer Buyer's Guide

This guide walks you through all the important considerations you'll need to know when selecting an ID card printer.

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The Difference Between Prox & Smart Cards

The Difference Between Prox & Smart Cards

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With a wide range of technology cards available, spanning everything from basic magnetic stripe cards that unlock your hotel room door to advanced multifunctional cards that unlock doors, pay for your snacks, and log you into a computer at work, it can be difficult to know what each card technology does and what it’s called.

Proximity Cards

Proximity cards are low frequency contactless cards used in access control systems. Replacing traditional locks and keys, prox cards give you more security and control over who has access to your building.

Prox card technology has been around since the 1990s and is still used today because these cards are durable and affordable – they don’t need to be physically swiped or scanned, so they have little daily wear and tear and can last years.

Access control systems include prox cards and card readers that lock doors. If the prox card’s data matches with a card stored in your system, the reader unlocks the door.

But prox cards have three main limits when compared to more advanced smart cards:

  • They are read-only
  • The data is not secure
  • The cards cannot contain multiple IDs or types of data

Smart Cards

High frequency smart cards evolved out of prox card technology, designed to give you more flexibility in data storage and card use. They also address the security issue prox cards had by introducing mutual authentication, making it safe to use the cards for cashless payment systems, network access, and more.

Smart cards come in several formats including:

Smart cards can also contain a combination of those formats, plus other options including prox, for systems that require multiple technology types.