ID Cards

What’s the Difference Between a Prox Card & a Smart Card?

Access control continues its prevalent growth within not only the security industry but most mainstream organizations. Proximity vs. Smart CardsActually, the majority of our customers are using some type of proximity card or smart card for access control, ticketing, toll, time & attendance, and other applications.

However, it’s easy to confuse a proximity card with a smart card. Here are the basic differences between the two technology card options:

Proximity Cards
The microchip embedded within a proximity card has only one function: to provide the prox card reader with the card’s identification number and/or site facility code number so it can be verified with a remote computer. Many access control systems only read the identification numbers and do not require the available memory that is present in a smart card. Prox cards – such as the HID 1386 prox card – are commonly used for door access.

Smart Cards
A smart card can provide identification, authentication, and store information on the card because of the microchip and memory which is embedded within the smart card. Smart cards have three main functions:

  • authentication
  • storing personal information
  • storing values

A smart card can be programmed with multiple credentials, which adds an extra “handshake” between the card reader and the card reader software. The memory on the smart card can also be programmed for use as a cash card or a pre-paid membership card.

Smart Cards & Prox Cards
There are also cards that utilize both proximity card technology and smart card technology. These are commonly used with legacy access control systems. An example is the HID iClass plus prox card. This card has both the HID 125 kHz Prox and iCLASS 13.56 MHz read/write contactless smart card technology in a single card. Both proximity and smart card technology can be used with card readers.

We carry card readers that can be used with one or both types of cards, and we can help you with finding the correct cards and card readers for your specific application! Call an ID Professional today at (800) 321-4405.

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