There was a time when proximity cards were the big credential on campus. Like, literally on campus. They were (and, to great extent, continue to be) used at universities throughout the nation, as well as hospitals, industrial warehouses, and other secured venues.

But over the last several years, a new contender has made its presence known, and now business owners worldwide must choose a side.

But in the proximity vs. smart cards battle, who should win?

Taking a Closer Look at Proximity Cards

Proximity (or “prox”) cards are low-frequency, contactless cards that have one job and one job only: access control.

These cards feature embedded RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips capable of storing limited information, such as a user’s identity and/or access code. This data cannot be updated or changed.

When a prox card is within an effective range of an RF antenna – anywhere between 2.5 inches up to several feet – a signal is transferred from the card to the control, permitting access (hence the “proximity”). In other words, wave your card in front of a reader, and voila! Open sesame!

Proximity cards can also be used in conjunction with a thermal dye sublimation printer to create photo ID badges. Durable and cost-effective, they are prolific in commercial and industrial venues. Because they do not require swiping or scanning, they endure little wear and tear over the years.

However, the simplicity of proximity cards is increasingly being seen as a drawback by some, as these read-only cards have clear limitations when it comes to storage and security.

In fact, concerns regarding the cloning of proximity cards continue to resurface, providing an impetus for many insiders to push smart cards as the wave of the future.

Are Smart Cards the Smarter Choice?

Smart cards were created with the sole intent of being copy-resistant, and by many accounts are virtually impossible to clone. They contain a microchip, but – unlike proximity cards – use two-way communication to provide a higher level of authentication.

Highly adaptable, smart cards can be programmed with multiple, encrypted credentials and offer far more functionality, such as the ability to store financial data to be used for purchases.

So, who wins in the proximity vs. smart cards grudge match?

The answer, of course is… it depends. Deciding the right access control card for your business depends largely on purpose, security needs, and, of course, budgetary concerns. Think of it this way: How many doors do you have, and how many employees do you have walking through them? AND how often do you expect this to change in the future.

In consistent security environments that do not change drastically from year to year, low-maintenance, long-lasting proximity cards may prove to be the most beneficial and economic option.

If you are in the process of upgrading credentials for your business, Secom, LLC can help. Our specialists are adept at gauging a business’s needs to determine the best course of action when it comes to access control. We can help you keep your property safe, secure, and monitored 24-hours a day, while paying only for the features you want and need. Contact us today and ask about our in-house financing.