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The MIFARE® Family Range – which smart card is right for you?

The MIFARE® Family Range – which smart card is right for you?

MIFARE® is NXP’s market leading brand of contactless products which are widely used in applications all over the world. The name is synonymous with reliability and scalability: their backward compatibility means that existing technology infrastructure can be easily upgraded when security requirements change.

MIFARE® cards are characterised by what they refer to as Family groups, with each ‘family’ being different in terms of their security features, memory and pricing.

Which family card group you need will depend on what you need your RFID card to do, whether security is important, and how long you need your MIFARE® card to be operable for.

We take a look at the family groups of:

  • MIFARE Classic®
  • MIFARE Plus®
  • MIFARE Ultralight®
  • MIFARE DESFire®.

MIFARE Classic®
MIFARE Classic® is the best known and most widely used technology in the MIFARE® family. It was the pioneer in the contactless revolution and is used in numerous applications including smart ticketing, education, public transport and access control.

If you use a contactless card on the tube or bus, or to access your gym or hotel, there is a high chance it is a MIFARE® card using Classic® RFID.

EV1 is the highest evolution of the Classic product family and is available in 1K and 4K memory.

  • 56 MHZ frequency
  • Read-write capability.

The application and use of smart ticketing solutions has increased exponentially over the last number of years, and with it has come a need for increased security and capability.

As such, MIFARE Classic® is no longer recommended by NXP for security requirements. For scenarios where security is important, the standard MIFARE® card offering is now MIFARE Plus® or MIFARE DESFire®.

MIFARE Plus® is the latest MIFARE® card and is designed to provide a security upgrade for legacy infrastructures, particularly MIFARE Classic®.

Contactless card providers that have previously relied on MIFARE® Classic technology are now upgrading to MIFARE® Plus when they have more advanced security requirements, such as the need for AES security for authentication, data integrity and encryption.

MIFARE Ultralight®
MIFARE Ultralight® is best suited to temporary or limited use and provides a low-cost contactless solution.

The security offered is also low, making it ideal for single-use or zonal use transport tickets, loyalty cards or as time-limited passes.

If your smart cards aren’t going to be subject to continual use and you need high volumes of cards, Ultralight® will be the cheapest way to achieve what you’re looking for.

They are often the MIFARE® card of choice for replacing a magnetic stripe or barcode card as they can be easily integrated into existing schemes.

The MIFARE® DESFire® family is MIFARE’s high security contactless solution designed for solution developers and system operators.

These MIFARE® cards have increased memory and are created specifically for circumstances where multiple applications are needed from one card, e.g. Identity, access, loyalty and cashless vending all in one.

They are usually the cards of choice for Government identity cards and campus cards.

With this increased capability comes increased cost; you can expect to pay considerably more for MIFARE DESFire® cards.

Read more about the MIFARE® Product families

The Card Network is a Registered MIFARE® Partner, so you can buy with confidence. We sell blank cards but also have a range of Custom Printed MIFARE® Cards.

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