Smart cards and ID cards, what type to use?

Written By John Fieldsend
Smart Cards

If your ID badge is going to act as more than just visual identification, selecting the right card to support the appropriate encoding technology for the application is fundamental.

From physical access to logical access, access to data to tracking time and attendance to facilitating payments, ID card printers offer myriad printing and encoding options to help you customise your ID card solution:

Magnetic Stripe

These cards are characterised by the magnetised black or brown stripes of resin on the back of a card which your ID card printer alters by changing the polarity of the particles. Specific readers are required to detect the information. Magnetic cards can be re-coded multiple times as needed.

Proximity (RFID)

RFID (Radio Frequency ID) cards use implanted antennae to exchange information wirelessly with RFID readers. Once encoded, the information cannot be over-written.

Smart and Contactless Smart Cards

Embedded microprocessors store information which can be changed and re-coded as required.


Multiple card technologies can be combined on one single card. This enables the seamless migration of an access control system from, for example, magnetic stripe communications to high security SMA proximity. Multi-technology cards are also a flexible solution for an access control system containing more than one type of communication interface or for interoperability between sites and systems.

So, a card is not “just” a card. Select the type that will support the functionality you need.

Discover more about card types here.