How to Choose RFID MIFARE Chip?

choose rfid mifare chip

When it comes to RFID chips, there are many options available on the market. If you’re looking for an RFID chip that offers both high security and compatibility, MIFARE is the way to go. Here’s a quick guide on choosing the right MIFARE chip for your needs.

What is RFID MIFARE Chip?

MIFARE is a type of RFID chip that has been on the market for over 20 years. It’s one of the most popular RFID chips because it integrates contactless smart card technology with many applications.

MIFARE RFID chips use 13.56 MHz radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology and comply with ISO/IEC 14443 Type A. This regulation ensures that the chips can be read by any reader that’s compliant with the standard.

The technology is used in several applications, including public transportation, access control, and event ticketing. Its contactless nature increases convenience and security for users.

What are the Different Types of MIFARE RFID Chips?

MIFARE RFID chips come in diverse form factors, each with its unique features and applications. The most common form factors include:

This is the oldest form factor and has been used in numerous applications, including public transportation, access control, and event ticketing. It is compliant with ISO/IEC 14443 Type A (part 1-3).

These ICs are ASIC-based and offer high security due to their cryptographic features. However, it’s been replaced by newer form factors, but MIFARE Classic EV1 is still widely used due to its low cost and high compatibility.

The IC has three memory variations, including:

  • 1K memory is divided into 16 sectors, each of which can be further divided into 4 blocks. This allows for a high degree of flexibility in terms of data storage.
  • 4K memory is divided into 40 sectors, 32 being of the same size as the 1K sectors, and the remaining 8 are 4 times larger.
  • MIFARE Classic Mini. This offers 320 bytes divided into 5 sectors. 

Each IC dedicates 16 bytes per sector to keys & other access conditions. Additionally, the first 16 bytes contain read-only manufacturer data and serial numbers. This leaves only 752 bytes (for 1K memory), 224 bytes (for MIFARE Mini), and 3440 bytes (for 4K memory).

Overall, MIFARE Classic is a versatile and widely-used IC, but its age means it’s not as secure as newer form factors. In fact, the only usable form of these ICs is MIFARE Classic EV1. It has the following features:

  • Superior ESD Features. This helps to protect the data stored on the chip.
  • AES-128 Encryption. This offers a higher level of security than previous versions.
  • Increased Memory Size. 1K and 4K memories are available, as well as a MIFARE Mini version.
  • 20,000 Write Endurance. This means that the data stored on the chip can be rewritten up to 20,000 times.
  • Random Number Generator. This makes it more difficult for attackers to guess keys.

These features make MIFARE Classic EV1 a good choice for applications that require high security and low-cost tags, such as access control and event ticketing.

This is a contactless smart card that offers a high level of security. It’s compliant with ISO/IEC 14443 Type A (part 1-4) and uses Triple-DES and AES encryption. The IC is available in 2K, 4K, and 8K versions.

The AES variations offer a higher level of security than the Triple-DES versions. However, both form factors provide a high-security level and are widely used in applications such as access control and identity management.

These ICs have different variations, including:


This is available in 2K, 4K, and 8K non-volatile memory and offers random ID, 128-bit AES, and EAL 4+ certified operating system. The ICs are predominantly used in loyalty programs, public transportation, micropayment, and access management.


This is a backward-compatible version of MIFARE DESFire EV1 and is available in 2K, 4K, and 8K non-volatile memory. It allows MIsmartApp execution and offers random ID, ensuring the use of third-party apps without sharing secret keys. Besides, it has proximity checks against relay attacks and virtual card architecture for guaranteed privacy.


This is the latest version of MIFARE DESFire and it has the following features:

  • 3-Factor Authentication. This involves the use of a secret key, an encrypted device identifier (UID), and a challenge-response mechanism.
  • ISO/IEC 1443A Compliant. This means that MIFARE Classic EV1 is interoperable with many systems. It has optional commands for ISO/IEC 7814-4 standards. Additionally, these chips are NFC Tag Type 4 compliant.
  • On-Chip Backup Management System. This ensures that data is retained even if power is lost.
  • EAL5+ Certification. MIFARE DESFire EV3 is highly secure and ideal for applications that require the highest level of security, such as government ID cards and military ID cards.
  • Transaction Timer. This helps to prevent replay attacks.

Overall, the MIFARE DESFire is a secure and versatile IC that’s ideal for diverse applications. They have better features than the Classic form factor, making them a good choice for applications that require high security.

This is the ultimate evolution of the MIFARE Classic, and it offers unique features for smart cities. It allows backward compatibility, and you can transfer data between the two form factors using the same key. The features of MIFARE Plus are:

  • AES 128-bit Encryption. This IC prioritizes security and offers a high level of protection for your data. It has high-end encryption, authentication, and access control capabilities.
  • EAL5+ Certification. This high-security IC was designed to offer government-grade security. It’s ideal for applications that require the highest level of security, such as national ID cards and ePassports.
  • ISO/IEC 14443 Certified. This ensures interoperability with numerous systems. Additionally, these chips are NFC Tag Type 4 compliant.
  • Two Major Variations. This form factor is available in two variations, including MIFARE Plus EV2 and MIFARE Plus SE. Both offer AES 128-bit encryption and ISO/IEC 14443 certification.

The MIFARE Plus is used in many areas, including car parking, transportation, citizen cards, and access management. They are versatile & highly secure.

This form factor is available in three variations: MIFARE Ultralight, MIFARE Ultralight C, and MIFARE Ultralight EV1. They offer 64-bit or 128-bit non-volatile memory and have a typical operating distance of up to 10 cm.

These ICs do not have cryptographic security features and are mainly used for simple applications that require small amounts of data storage, such as event tickets and loyalty cards. For example, world cup ticketing uses these ICs since they are cheap and disposable.

Their security features are basic, including one-time-programmable bits, write-lock bits, and a password-protected mode. Overall, they offer low security and are not suitable for applications that require high levels of security.

Where to Use RFID MIFARE Chips?

RFID MIFARE chips are used in a variety of applications, including:

  • Transportation. With the automation of public transportation, MIFARE is used in electronic ticketing systems. Commuters can use their contactless smart cards to pay for their fares. Additionally, the chips are used in electronic toll collection systems.
  • Access Control. These chips are used in physical access control systems, such as building access control and hotel room key management. They offer a convenient way to grant or deny access to buildings and rooms.
  • Event Ticketing. MIFARE chips are used in event ticketing systems. They offer a convenient way to manage entry and exit into events. Additionally, the chips can be used for customer loyalty programs and other marketing initiatives.
  • Government ID Cards. These ICs are used in government-issued ID cards, such as national ID cards and ePassports. They offer a high level of security and are difficult to clone.
  • Payment Cards. MIFARE chips are used in contactless payment cards, such as credit cards and debit cards. They offer a convenient way to make payments without cash or a physical card swipe.

Overall, RFID MIFARE chips are versatile and can be used in diverse applications. They will help you automate your business processes and offer a convenient way for your customers to interact with your systems.

How to Choose RFID MIFARE Chip?

Choosing the right MIFARE chip can be tricky, but it’s critical to choose one that meets the specific needs of your application. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

  • Operating Distance. The operating distance is the maximum distance the RFID reader can communicate with the tag. This is a critical factor, especially if you need to read tags from a distance.
  • Memory Size. The MIFARE Classic has a 1KB memory size, while the MIFARE Plus and DESFire have 4KB and 8KB memory sizes, respectively. Choose a form factor with enough memory to store all the data you need.
  • Security Level. The security level is an important factor to consider, especially if you’re storing sensitive data. The MIFARE DESFire EV3 is the most secure form factor, followed by the MIFARE Plus.

Whichever form factor you choose, ensure it meets the specific needs of your application. This is the only way to ensure a successful RFID implementation.


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