Proximity Card Vs Mifare Card: Which One Has Better Security Features

Proximity Card Vs Mifare Card

People take access control quite seriously. This is because there are things you might not want people to access unless they have the right authorization. In such a space, there comes a few ways to control this access. That is when you may come across proximity cards and mifare cards.

Other than controlling access, they can also be useful for other applications, including event ticketing and more. Nevertheless, it is important to choose the right one for your application. That is what this guide is all about. We have a detailed comparison between the two to help in determining which one works well for you.


Proximity Cards

Proximity Cards

Basic Functionality

Proximity cards are quite common in different office setups and building access control systems. They are common because of their widely known performance for securing an area, making it hard for unauthorized access.

Proximity cards work by utilizing radio frequency identification technology or RFID. This is a wireless communication technology that uses electromagnetic fields for identification and tracking of objects. That is how the proximity cards can easily work without necessarily being inserted into the card reader. The common operation frequency for the proximity cards is 125KHz.

Types of Proximity Cards

When seeking to use proximity cards for access control, there are two main options available. It is either active or passive proximity cards.

  • Passive proximity cards

The passive cards lack a power source. These are the most common options in the market right now since they are cheap to buy and have no maintenance needs. They work by relying on the electromagnetic field of the card reader to activate them.

The cards are known for being able to deliver on simplicity while also working quite well. That is what has also driven the popularity of using such cards.

  • Active proximity cards

In contrast, the active cards feature an internal power source. Basically, it has a small battery powering the card.

The battery works by making the card initiate the connection with the card reader at any time. Because of such, the connection is stronger, and they have a longer read range. So, if you ever need a long-read range, you can always consider getting such a card.

Advantages of Proximity Cards

People get proximity cards for many reasons. Here are some of the advantages that may make the cards good for your application too.

  • The convenience that comes with such cards is generally important to anyone seeking the use of proximity cards. No need to insert them into a card reader thanks to wireless operation.
  • The speed at which the cards are read and authenticated is quite impressive. This is what has made it easier for people to easily adopt the use of the cards.
  • The cards are generally durable. They can withstand everyday use and not get damaged easily. Some can even have protective cases to make them withstand external elements such as moisture and changes in temperature.
  • How about the cost? Well, the cards are cheaper than what you get with other access control cards. This is all due to the simplicity of design, and most lack an internal power source driving the cost further low.

Limitations of Proximity Cards

  • The most common limitation is that proximity cards often do not have the most advanced security features. They may lack the capacity to handle such features.
  • There have been cases of cloning the proximity cards, making it hard to trust them sometimes. But with best practices, this can be prevented.

Mifare Cards

Mifare Cards

Basic Functionality

The Mifare cards were developed by NXP Semiconductors, which is a big company in the world of access control. The company leverages the use of RFID technology to deliver advanced performance with the Mifare cards.

These cards are not just about access control but also work in diverse ecosystems, including warehouses and more. The best part is having a wider frequency range, with some of the cards working at 13.56MHz. It all comes down to which card type you choose.

Having high frequency means that you generally get better technology that can contribute to the overall performance of the card. That is why it remains a popular option for access control applications.

Common Types of Mifare Cards

Mifare cards are available in a number of options. This is based on their overall performance. Here are the most common options you would get in the market.

  • Mifare Classic

This is one of the earliest iterations of the cards. It is quite reliable and widespread in terms of where you can use them. You can expect it to have several options for memory sizes, making the card more flexible in terms of applications.

Nevertheless, this series has a few downsides, including security challenges, as they do not have the most robust security features.

  • Mifare Plus

You can also come across Mifare Plus if you need more security features that are lacking in the Classic option. This includes having encryption methods added to the cards for better functionality.

These cards still come with backward compatibility with the Mifare Classic infrastructure while also providing you with improved security frameworks.

  • Mifare Ultralight

These are designed for short-term use and cost-effective applications. They have limited memory and features, but their flexibility is quite impressive. They can be ideal for disposable ticketing or accessing events. With their simplicity, expect to come across them quite often.

  • Mifare DESFire

This is what you can call the pinnacle of using Mifare technology. In this case, you get more security features and diverse functionality. The cards even feature advanced cryptographic features for security. Let us say you have an application that requires stringent security measures, such as sensitive facilities; you can always consider these cards.

Advantages of Mifare Cards

  • Advanced security features, especially with the Mifare DESFire series can make the application even better.
  • You also get multi-application support with the cards. They will handle different applications quite well.
  • The storage capacity varies from one card to another. This is vital so that you choose the right card depending on your needs.

Limitations of Mifare Cards

  • With advanced features, sometimes you have to pay more to get them. That is why these cards are more expensive.
  • There can be potential compatibility issues with non-Mifare systems.


The Comparison Between Proximity Card and Mifare Card

The Comparison Between Proximity Card and Mifare Card

You have seen how the two differ, but we want to go a step further have the comparison in one place. This should help you have a better understanding of why you should pick which card works for you.

1. Security

Anyone looking to buy these cards will consider their levels of security. We see that Mifare cards will have a higher level of security, especially encryption and other methods. As for proximity cards, we find them good, mostly for basic access control.

Cloning is another problem that such systems might face. That is why they would want that the security to be better. The proximity cards do not have the best protection against cloning. The same cannot be said for Mifare cards since they have advanced security features to prevent this from happening.

2. Functionality

Depending on the application, sometimes it is important to look at the range and communication speed. The proximity cards generally have a shorter read range. This means you have to be closer to the reader to get it to work. However, Mifare cards are available in different types with some having more read range and also faster communication speed.

As for compatibility, we find that proximity cards can work with several systems so long as they are RFID. As for Mifare cards, the technology is also widespread, and most people find it easy to use it. So, it comes down to the systems you have in place, as that is what may affect compatibility.

3. Cost

If you want to spend less and still have decent access control protection, then choose proximity cards. This is especially true for passive cards as the cost of production is cheaper, which is passed onto you.

The Mifare cards come with advanced features, which of course, impact the cost of ownership. Nevertheless, it also depends on the type. If you choose the Ultralight option, expect the cards to be cheaper also.

Long-term cost of ownership still finds the proximity cards being cheaper to maintain. You can still watch out for regular card replacement because of wear and tear. You can also come across Mifare cards, which have the best durability and security. This means more maintenance procedures sometimes.

4. Use Cases

So, where would you use each of the cards?

Suitable environments for proximity cards include areas where the cards will provide basic access control. Also, the primary focus would be a cost-effective and user-convenient solution. This includes office buildings, residential complexes, and educational institutions.

Mifare cards, on the other hand, excel quite well for both basic and complex or sensitive applications. Depending on the type of card you pick, you could use it for simple access control or to protect sensitive information in a room with complex access control features.


There are many things about these cards that just make them perfect for an application. What you have to make sure is that you are getting the right card for your needs. If you want basic access control and save money while at it, then proximity cards will do just fine. For those who want something more with advanced security features, consider getting the Mifare cards.

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