NFC business card tag choices

What tags should you choose for your NFC business card

Mar 20, 2017 - 2 minute read

So you’ve decided to add NFC to your next batch of business cards and start designing them. You’ve picked the perfect subtle off-white colouring, the most tasteful thickness, an elegant font, but suddenly you’re faced with a choice of tag technology. NTAG? Ultralight? DESFire? Classic? Topaz? What do you choose? Why?

If you’ve read our Tag 101 article, you probably already have some idea what tag you want, but, even if you haven’t, we’ll explain everything here. If you just want our recommendation, feel free to jump to the end, but we’re going to first break down our requirements and how they inform our final selection:

1. Broad compatibility

You can’t control what device people will be attempting to read your business cards with, so it’s important that you use a tag that has good support across a wide variety of devices. In our experience, Type 2 tags such as the NTAG and Ultralight as well as Type 4 tags such as the DESFire are the most broadly compatible. You may see MIFARE Classic cards as an option, but, while cost effective, these have very limited compatibility with Android phones and other readers, so we strongly suggest not using them.

2. Capacity

The capacity requirements largely depend on what kind of information you want to put on the tag. If you just want to put your website, you can probably get away with a low capacity tag such as an NTAG213 (144 bytes) or standard Ultralight (46 bytes), but we would generally suggest going up to an intermediate capacity tag (~500-900 bytes) like an NTAG215/216. Once you have several hundred bytes to work with, you have the option to place a full virtual business card (VCard) on the tag. It may be tempting to go for very high capacity tags like the DESFire, but in our opinion these usually don’t offer enough additional memory to provide any new capabilities, so they aren’t very attractive for business cards.

Our suggestion

NTAG216. The NTAG series from NXP is a type 2 tag, so it’s broadly compatible with NFC readers. It also has 888 bytes of memory, so it can store a quite large amount of data relative to other commonly available NFC tags. Further, the NTAG series has extremely good scan performance, so even low-powered readers should have no problem reading your business card. Best of all, despite its excellent performance and significant memory capacity, the NTAG216 is quite reasonably priced.

Luke Van Oort

Chief Developer, fan of immutable data structures and functional reactive programming. Guitar noodler and cycling enthusiast.

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