Smart card readers are available in either contact, contactless, or a combination of contact and contactless models.
Contact smart card readers require that the card is manually inserted into the reader by the user. This application is most commonly used for applications that require more security, like government IDs, e-commerce transactions, campus IDs, network security, vending, meal plans, loyalty, electronic cash, and health care cards, to name just a few.
Contactless smart card readers operate with a radio frequency that communicates when the card comes close to the reader. The card does not physically have to be put onto or into the actual reader. Contactless card readers offer the added convenience and speed of not having to insert the card into a reader. The most common applications for contactless card readers include door and facility access, electronic passports, parking, vending, and tollbooth fares.