What’s the Difference between Magnetic Stripe & Proximity Cards?

What’s the Difference between Magnetic Stripe & Proximity Cards?

What’s the Difference between Magnetic Stripe & Proximity Cards?

With all of the ID card options available, it may be difficult to choose which type of card to use for your organization’s identification, access, or security needs.

If you’re not sure about the difference between magnetic stripe and proximity cards, ID Wholesaler can help!

To break things down a bit, think of it this way:  magnetic stripe cards (also called “magstripe cards”) use magnetics to put encoded information on the dark stripes that you see on the back of a variety of cards like hotel key cards or credit cards.

The information on the stripes can range from something really simple like a hotel room number or on the other end of the spectrum with credit card numbers, names, and other personal data.

Magnetic stripe cards require a user to swipe it through a card reader in order to get the information off of the card like at a gas station pump, for instance.

Think of the magstripe card reader like a finger running across Braille lettering (the information on the mag stripe). Each letter or number is organized in a way to inform the reader what it is.

 As you swipe the card, the reader quickly identifies the information on the magstripe and relays it to the computer.

Proximity cards (also called “prox” cards and “contactless” cards) are even more intriguing. They are programmed in a more secure way using computer language that encodes the cards with secure numbers and data.

Prox cards are totally contactless, which means they do not have to touch or physically be “read” by a card reader.

You simply have to wave them in front of a reader for them to work! For example, think of it like a radio broadcast.

The cards are speaking one language, and just like your car radio, the readers need to be on the right channel to hear them. When it does, these cards can do even more!

Unlike magnetic stripe cards which can easily have the information stored on them cleared with interference from other magnetics, proximity card information cannot be changed or altered. This makes prox cards significantly more secure.

Have you ever been at a hotel and all of a sudden your room key stopped working? More than likely, it’s because you put the card near another magnet like your cell phone or a money clip which damaged the information on the stripe.

You may be asking, “Well, why doesn’t it happen with credit cards then?” That’s because credit cards use stronger magnets to encode the card. Essentially, you would need stronger magnets to “mess up” the information on a proximity card.

Is a Magnetic Stripe or Proximity Card Right for Me?
To answer this question, we recommend that you first examine what your specific needs are. If you’re using card readers that require swiping (e.g., credit card, library card, time & attendance, etc.), you likely require the use of a magnetic stripe card.

This is a low-cost solution that can simply be done using an ID card printer and software. It would allow you the ability to have a more secure card without a large investment.

On the other hand, do you need a card that provides more secure access to a computer, copy/fax machine, contactless access to doors, or equipment cabinets? Maybe even time clocks using contactless cards?

If you’ll need to waive a card in front of a reader to make the system work, then you should look at proximity cards. Most come already encoded from the manufacturer so there’s little more than requesting special numbers. You also have the option to encode cards on-site using specialized equipment and software.

How does a smart card system benefit facility managers or other areas of uses?

First, consider the alternative without smart cards. Under a business-as-usual scenario, an office building with a base-building access control system may have its own controllers that are separate from the tenants’ card access system controllers.

Tying them together requires integration between various access control systems and possibly multiple types of cards.

Or consider a hospital or university. Specific buildings or even departments may have their own systems, requiring different access cards.

This can cause confusion when trying to track which cards access which facilities.

Enter the smart card. Smart cards contain a computer chip programmed with personal information about the cardholder and the access point or points the individual is allowed to enter.

One benefit of smart cards is that they can be integrated with different technologies, including proprietary proximity, magnetic-stripe and biometric systems. That allows smart cards to be used in different locations with different technology readers.

The benefits of smart cards don’t stop there. A smart card that is programmed to be read by different types of readers or by a multi-technology reader at different locations is expandable through the addition of new access control panels and readers. That means better flexibility.

Smart cards can also help protect corporate information networks so-called logical access control, as compared with physical access control for entry into a facility.

IT departments seek logical access as a lock on a company’s computer network. In a logical access control system, a user’s smart card is inserted into a card reader linked to the cardholder’s workstation.

Logical access using a smart card reader provides better security than a password because employees often fail to log off their workstations at the end of a day, allowing others to access sensitive company files.

 The smart card solves that problem because removal of the card unlinks a workstation from a company’s computer network.

Still have questions on what solution is best for you? Well, that’s why we’re here to help. If you have additional questions on what these cards do, how they work, or even which solution best fits your needs, call an ID Professional today at 0713233589 or chat now.

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