What is the Difference Between 125kHz and 13.56 MHz?

  • PublishedJune 7, 2024

In modern security and access control, proximity card have become an indispensable tool for businesses and organizations aiming to enhance their security measures. Among the most commonly used types of proximity cards are those operating at 125kHz and 13.56MHz frequencies. While both types serve similar purposes, they have distinct characteristics that make them suitable for different applications. The choice between these two types of cards depends largely on the specific security needs and infrastructure of the organization.

Introducing You To 125 kHz Proximity Cards

Frequency and Operation

These cards operate at a lower frequency compared to their 13.56MHz counterparts. This lower frequency means that they have a longer wavelength, which in turn affects their read range and data transmission speed. Typically, 125k Hz proximity cards have a read range of up to 10 centimeters (about 4 inches), making them suitable for close-range access control applications.

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Advantages of 125 kHz Proximity Cards

  • Cost-Effective: 125kHz cards are generally more affordable than 13.56MHz cards. This is an attractive option for businesses looking to implement access control solutions on a budget.
  • Compatibility: These cards are widely supported by many legacy access control systems.
  • Simplicity: The technology behind these cards is straightforward, so there is ease of use and straightforward integration.

Applications of 125 kHz Proximity Cards

125kHz prox cards are widely used in access control systems for:

  • Office Buildings
  • Residential Complexes
  • Parking Facilities, etc.

Exploring 13.56 MHz Proximity Cards

Frequency and Operation

13.56MHz proximity access cards operate at a higher frequency, which translates to a shorter wavelength. This higher frequency allows for faster data transmission and a greater data storage capacity. Additionally, 13.56MHz cards can support more advanced security features, such as encryption and mutual authentication.

Advantages of 13.56MHz Prox Cards

  • Enhanced Security: The higher frequency enables advanced security features.
  • Greater Data Capacity: 13.56MHz cards can store more information. They can do things like storing biometric data or serving as a payment card.
  • Faster Data Transmission: The higher frequency allows for quicker data exchange between the card and reader.

Use Cases for A 13.56 MHz Proximity Card

Due to their better security and greater data capacity, 13.56MHz proximity ID cards are often used in environments where high security is paramount. This includes government buildings, research facilities, and financial institutions. They are also used in applications that require multifunctional cards, such as:

  • University Campuses (where a single card can provide access to buildings)
  • Serve As A Library Card
  • For Payments

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Comparing 125kHz and 13.56MHz Proximity Access Cards

Security Needs

If your application requires a high level of security, such as protecting sensitive data or controlling access to restricted areas, 13.56 MHz proximity cards are the better choice due to their encryption and authentication capabilities. However, for basic access control where security is not as critical, 125 kHz proximity cards may suffice.

Cost Considerations

Budget constraints can play a significant role in the decision-making process. 125kHz proximity cards are generally more affordable, making them an attractive option for organizations looking to implement access control on a tight budget. Conversely, the advanced features of 13.56MHz cards come at a higher cost, which may be justified by the fancy security and multifunctionality they offer.

Environmental Factors

The operating environment can also influence your choice of proximity card. 125kHz cards are less susceptible to interference from metal and other environmental factors, making them suitable for challenging environments. In contrast, 13.56MHz cards may require more careful installation and management to ensure consistent performance.

Data Requirements

Consider the amount and type of data you need to store on the card. If your application requires storing a significant amount of data or supporting multiple applications, 13.56 MHz cards are the better option due to their larger data capacity.


With technological advancements, it is important to understand the future scalability of your access control system. 13.56MHz cards, with their higher data capacity and advanced security features, are more likely to support future upgrades and integration with new technologies such as mobile access and biometric authentication. Investing in 13.56MHz cards can provide a more future-proof solution that adapts to evolving security needs.

User Experience

The ease of use and user experience are also critical factors. 125kHz cards, with their robust performance in various environments, can offer a more reliable user experience in challenging conditions. However, 13.56MHz cards, with their enhanced features, may provide a more seamless and secure experience, particularly in high-security environments.

Let Bristol ID Technologies Help You

When choosing between 125 kHz and 13.56 MHz proximity cards, it is essential to consider the specific requirements of your access control system and the environment in which it will be used. By understanding the differences and benefits of each type, you can make an informed decision that best meets your security needs and operational goals.

But in whatever you choose, the product you get should be of the best quality. You can only guarantee that if you work with a professional like Bristol ID Technologies. Let’s have a chat and we’ll see how we can amp up your security!

Written By
Aftab Ahmad