Selecting the correct type of access card is as important as choosing an access control system. This of course depends on the kind of technology you would like to employ and the given resources and budget available at your disposal.
Moreover, it is also essential to take into consideration the requirements of stakeholders involved ranging from singular to multi-purpose use.
With the advancement of technology the access card too has evolved from the simple magnetic strip card to the more sophisticated active smart and active prox card.
Upgrading an access control project may sometimes be essential to incorporate non-access control systems, like IP cameras which are capable of reacting to a card swipe or proximity card or even increasing the utility of an access card to provide multipurpose use like garage and cafeteria admission.
Whatever the case maybe, an important decision to ponder upon would be the kind of card necessary and the kind of money you would like to spend in obtaining not only for yourself but also for the several dozens or scores of employees.
Also one should note that it is most advisable to choose the right card during the "needs and wants" stage as halfway through, a change of card may bring complications and increased budgets.
Suggested availabilities are:
Key card access - One of the most common forms of employee identification, these cards are clipped onto the belt or worn around like a necklace. Embedded with a metallic coil storing identification data, these function like a credit card, not requiring a "swipe". When inserted into the reader, data is passed onto the access system which grants admittance based on the credentials.
Magnetic stripes or barcodes - A close cousin of the key card; these can be singular or multi-purpose in use; double-coded for access to garage/ parking, cafeteria/ dining-hall and or departmental access. A major drawback is the wear and tear through the constant swipe which is inevitable.
Proximity card - These do not require a physical insertion as they work on a radio frequency as the card is passed along the exterior of the reader. Some contain a mere "read-only" technology, for building access thus having them contain a narrow memory. The other drawback is the distance between the card and the reader. Popularly known as prox cards.
Contactless smart card - Is the newer version of the prox card and can hold more data like biometric templates, time and attendance data. Widely used for contactless payments and public transit fare cards, these find a multi-purpose use.
Active Prox cards - An improvisation of the above stated, these are power-driven by an internal lithium battery helping bridge the distance between reader and card. With a maximum life span of about five years they tend to be expensive but of course the cost of which could be built into the infrastructure budget. Another major drawback for both the prox and the active prox card is there are now devices that can easily clone them.
Whatever the card you may choose depending on your need and available resources, it must be pointed out however that with constant changes in access control technology access cards from the simplest to the most sophisticated all have their pros and cons.