The Differences Between RFID and NFC

The 21st century is filled with new technologies to make daily life easier. Part of this technological advancement comes from hands-free wireless connectivity between devices. Specifically, RFID and NFC networks have made little transactions, like using a keycard or smartphone to make a transaction, effortless. Still, it’s important to know the differences between RFID and NFC technologies and how they work in our daily life.


RFID stands for radiofrequency identification. It’s used to identify and track objects via tags. These tags contain radio transponders that receive and transmit valuable data. There are two types of RFID tags to know: passive tags and active tags. Passive tags use RFID energy through radio waves. These use three types of frequency ranges: low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF), and ultra-high frequency (UHF). Active tags, on the other hand, use a battery and can read at a greater distance. RFID has become popular in commercial use, like credit cards and retail products. The cards use memory chips to store data that an RFID can read.


NFC stands for near-field communication and acts similarly to RFID devices. NFC technologies use wireless connections between two devices. NFC is used to identify documents, keycards, contactless payment, and electronic tickets. There are also passive and active NFC tags. Passive tags use NFC technology to communicate with the initiator-provided magnetic field. Active tags use both the initiator and target device to transmit data between devices.

What’s the Difference?

While both use wireless network technology, there are some key differences between RFID and NFC technologies. RFID identifies items via radio waves, while NFC is an offshoot of RFID. NFC is a type of HF RFID and acts as both an NFC reader and tag. For RFID tags, there is a separate reader. Also, NFC readers must be within a few centimeters of each other to work compatibly. It’s ideal for peer-to-peer communication, such as quick contactless payment or sharing data. Passive RFID readers can work up to a broadcast range of 25 meters, while active readers function up to 100 meters. Since NFC is a type of HF RFID, some NFC devices can read passive RFID tags, which give NFC more usable opportunities than RFID devices.

Still, both types of wireless data communication face threats from scammers, hackers, and criminals. Since a lot of financial decisions are made with contactless and cashless transactions, these rely on RFID and NFC technologies. Fortunately, you can protect your information and data with a thin aluminum wallet. The Fantom Wallet has RFID- and NFC-blocking capability to dampen the signals and reduce data theft. Check out our build-your-own option to customize the perfect wallet for you.