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Mifare Cards VS Proximity Cards: How to Choose?

  • Akansha Sharma
  • Dec 28, 2023
  • RFID
 Mifare Cards and Proximity Cards differences- How to Choose?

Are you confused about the difference between Mifare cards and proximity cards? You're not alone. With both cards being used for identification and access control, it can be challenging to differentiate between the two. Both are popular contactless cards that are used for door acces, Identification and payments and secure access control respectively but choosing between the two requires in-depth knowledge.

So, let’s discuss some key differences between Mifare cards and proximity cards that help you make an informed decision when it comes to implementation.

What is a Mifare Card and how it works?

Mifare cards possess a tiny electronic chip that facilitates complex tasks like securing data (encryption) and storing information. RFID technology is used by the devices to communicate with card readers. Mifare cards operate at a frequency of 13.56 MHz, just as NFC technology, and use ISO 14443 standard as communication protocol.

1. Once you position a Mifare card within proximity of a reader, signal transmission from the reader activates the microchip located in the card. The microchip then transmits the stored information back to the reader, allowing access to be granted or denied based on the data received. Mifare cards are capable of delivering a premium level of security and therefore, are frequently employed in scenarios where a heightened degree of safeguarding is necessary, such as those encountered in government bodies and commercial establishments.

2. The complexity and advanced features of HF Mifare cards come with a higher price tag compared to proximity cards. Integrating Mifare card systems may increase the overall cost of the system due to the requirement of special hardware and software. Despite these potential drawbacks, Mifare cards remain a popular choice for organizations that prioritize security and advanced functionality.

What is a proximity card and how it works?
On the other hand, proximity cards are simpler in design and rely on radio frequency technology for communication. These cards contain a small antenna embedded within the card, which allows them to communicate with card readers. It operates at 125kHz and has bit rates ranging from 26 to over 60. The chip implanted in it serves only one purpose: to provide the card's identifying number to the proximity card reader for authentication. Additional information cannot be stored on proxy cards.

1. When a proximity card is placed near a reader, the reader emits a low-frequency radio signal that powers the card and activates the embedded antenna. The card then sends a unique ID back to the reader, which is used to grant or deny access based on the system's configuration and they are widely used in applications where basic access control is required, such as office buildings, schools, and parking facilities.
2. They offer a cost-effective solution for organizations that need to issue a large number of cards without compromising on security. Proximity cards are also compatible with a wide range of card readers, making them a versatile option for businesses that may already have existing card reader systems in place.

3. Due to their simple functioning, the use and servicing of proximity cards is not a challenging task. Compared to Mifare cards, the hardware and software requirements for proximity card systems are minimal, which can result in cost savings during the setup process. These cards do not support data storage or encryption, which are some of the most advanced features of Mifare cards.  

Key differences between Mifare Cards and Proximity Cards
Mifare cards and proximity cards, let's explore the key differences between the two:

1. Technology: Mifare cards utilize RFID technology and are equipped with a microchip for advanced functionality, while proximity cards rely on low-frequency radio signals for communication.
2. Security: Mifare cards offer higher levels of security due to their ability to encrypt data and store information on the card itself. Proximity cards, on the other hand, are simpler in design and offer basic access control measures.
3. Functionality: Mifare cards can perform more complex functions, such as opening doors, making payments, and storing data. Proximity cards are primarily used for basic access control and identification purposes.
4. Compatibility: Proximity cards are compatible with a wide range of card readers, making them a versatile option for organizations that already have existing systems in place. Mifare cards may require specialized hardware and software for implementation.


MiFare Cards

Proximity Cards

Encryption Keys




13.56 MHz

125 kHz




Data storage capacity

typically up to 1 kilobyte of data       

No storing of additional data


1. Card Payments

2. Loyalty Programs

3. Access management

1. Door Access control

2. Parking

Choosing the right card for your needs

When it comes to choosing between Mifare cards and proximity cards, there are a few factors to consider:

1. Security Requirements: Assess your organization's security requirements and determine whether the advanced security features of Mifare cards are necessary or if the basic access control measures of proximity cards will suffice.

2. Functionality: Consider the specific functions and capabilities you require from your card system. If you need multifunctional cards that can perform various tasks, Mifare cards may be the better option.

3. Cost: Evaluate your budget and determine whether the higher cost of Mifare cards is justifiable based on your organization's needs and requirements.

4. Compatibility: If you already have existing card reader systems in place, check whether they are compatible with proximity cards and can save you from the additional cost of your effort of replacing or upgrading your current systems.

In conclusion, Mifare cards and proximity cards may appear similar at first sight, but they utilize different technologies and offer distinct features and functionality. Mifare cards provide advanced functionality, enhanced security, and versatility, making them ideal for organizations with complex access control requirements. On the other hand, proximity cards offer simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and compatibility, making them a suitable choice for organizations that prioritize ease of implementation and basic access control measures. In general, Mifare cards offer better functionality than proximity cards, which are only best for door access control, used in hotels, offices and room access.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1) What are the various types of Mifare cards?

Mifare technology has different card types. Each type offers different features and security levels, catering to various application needs.

1. M1 -MIFARE Classic Series

2. MIFARE Ultralight Series

3. M2-MIFARE Plus Series

4. M3-MIFARE DESFire Series

Q2)  Are Mifare cards and proximity cards interchangeable?

In general, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but Mifare is a specific technology within the broader category of proximity cards. All Mifare cards are proximity cards, but not all proximity cards are Mifare cards.

Q3) Can existing systems easily switch between Mifare cards and other proximity cards?

Switching between Mifare cards and other proximity cards may require updates or changes to the card readers and the overall system. Compatibility depends on the technology used in the existing infrastructure and the desired type of card to be integrated.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Dec 28, 2023

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