Learning About Access Control Systems: Control Cards

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Card-based access control systems play an important role in protecting your property. Keyless entry systems provide an effective and affordable way to keep people, premises, and data safe. Card access systems can be a great choice, whether you’re protecting a warehouse, a dormitory, or a commercial building.

Any door access control system must ensure that only authorized people gain access to designated areas of your building. There are many ways to achieve this from traditional keys or digitized door locks to high-tech biometric systems. Card-based systems, however, offer a flexible, familiar, and cost-effective solution to many businesses’ security challenges. Here’s why:


Many companies looking to secure access to their facilities opt to install card access control systems. Individuals are issued electronic cards allowing access through a particular door or doors via manual card readers or proximity detectors. Card Access Control systems fall into three main categories – magnetic stripe cards, proximity cards, and smart cards.


Ideal for low-security installations, magnetic stripe cards limit the number of people who can enter your facility. They are also quite easy to duplicate, and there’s nothing stopping people from sharing cards or lending them to others. Also, the card’s magnetic stripe tends to wear out quite fast and can be corrupted by exposure to magnetic fields.


Proximity cards, also known as radio frequency identification (RFID) cards, work on both high and low frequencies. Low Frequency “prox” cards are expensive but are easily duplicatable, even at kiosks in your local hardware store. High Frequency cards offer more encryption and are not easily duplicated. More convenient for users than magnetic swipe cards, “prox cards” are also more resistant to wear and tear.


A smart card is the better choice for high-security facilities. These cards come with an embedded chip that bears the user’s details. Since every chip is unique, it’s possible to log instantly when and where a card is being used. Data can be stored on these chips that can provide other identifying data or connect to building automation or vending machines.

Lost or stolen cards can be blocked, preventing anyone from gaining unauthorized access to your premises. Smart cards are also available in proximity or contact versions.


Card Access Systems can offer significant security advantages for many companies but might not be ideal for some organizations. Let’s take a closer look at whether a card-based system will work for you. 


Card access systems offer significant advantages over high-end biometric installations and more traditional systems.

Quick and easy to use: If a door is secured via a card access system, you just need to swipe your card. And, as long as your credentials are in the access system, then the door will open right away. You don’t have to worry about memorizing a code or sorting through keys. 

Flexible: Cards are cheap to relatively cheap to issue and reissue, and can be encoded with an expiration date so they can be given to temporary workers or contractors.

Resilient: At the same time, smart card systems provide an added level of security by allowing you to deregister individual cards from the system. If an employee loses a card or leaves your company, the access rights of the card can be canceled.

Traceable: Card-activated door-access systems can be set up to log entries and exits to keep a tab on when and how your facility is being accessed.  Access Control Systems allow you to log which employees are on-site in specific locations at what times. That helps to protect your staff, your equipment and inventory, and your data and intellectual property.

Affordable: Card entry systems are simple to use and maintain and cost less upfront than high-tech biometric or mobile access control systems. Replacing all your cards will also cost less than rekeying your entire facility in the case of a security breach!  


Card access systems do come with some downsides, especially for very small companies or those with very high-security needs. 

Easy to forget, lose, or share: Cards can be lost or left at home, locked in offices, shared between employees, or passed on to contractors or temporary visitors. This can result in time-consuming and expensive replacements or system-wide updates to maintain security. 

High maintenance: While access cards are a relatively affordable security solution, card replacement costs can add up, especially for magnetic stripe cards that tend to wear out or become corrupted. Higher-end proximity and chip-based solutions can prevent these issues but do cost more upfront.

Ongoing costs: While set-up costs for card access systems are lower than for biometric systems, the cost of maintaining access control readers and locks and constantly replacing lost, corrupted, or compromised cards can add up over time. For some businesses, spending more upfront or sticking with more traditional security measures might make more sense.


Card access systems offer a reliable, tried-and-true security solution ideal for any environment where the focus is on limiting access, preventing shrinkage, and protecting personal data and intellectual property.

While card-based systems require some level of ongoing maintenance, including card replacements and doorlock and scanner replacements, the technology is now both well-understood and widely available. That allows card-based systems to deliver cost-effective security along with great flexibility and convenience.

On the other hand, even advanced card-based systems do require a certain level of trustworthiness and responsibility from employees. Facilities handling research, national security or credit card, health, or financial data may require more advanced biometric or app-based security systems to guarantee access only to specific approved individuals.


A card-based access control system from Richmond Security will allow the right people in while keeping the wrong people out. Protect customer records, sensitive data, and valuable assets while gaining complete and total control over who, where, and when access is authorized with:

  • Real-time reporting and access for total control
  • Scalable systems that meet your needs today — and tomorrow
  • User-friendly operation and maintenance

Whether you need to secure one door or one hundred, Richmond Security has a card-based solution that will allow your staff to control, track and manage your system easily from a single on or off-site location.

Local knowledge and experience count when choosing an access control company. Richmond Security has been securing businesses and their assets in the greater Richmond area since 1976. Click below to learn more.


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