What Are Time Cards?

Time cards can be physical cards made from plastic or cardboard or digitally-created cards used to record the starting and ending times of employee work hours during a full workweek. Time cards differ from time tracking timesheets as they only include start and end hours without any additional details.

The Different Types of Time Cards

Physical Time Cards

Physical time cards only track the start and finish of each shift, and employees feed them into a mechanical time clock device to physically punch time entry holes in the card. There are also swipe time cards with a magnetic strip that employees swipe through a registry terminal when they start and finish work every day.

This system works great for tracking work hours but is susceptible to time theft, as employees can buddy punch other employees when they aren’t present at work.

Digital Time Cards

Digital or web-based time cards are used by employees to clock in and clock out online from their desktops, laptops, or mobile devices. Employees use digital time cards in the same manner as physical time cards, except that they clock in from their computers.

These time cards can also be integrated with the payroll or HR software management uses for accurate record keeping and calculating totals, i.e., regular hours, overtime hours, different rates for different projects, etc. 

Moreover, digital time cards eliminate the buddy punching moment as each individual employee has unique login credentials on the time card platform. Additionally, since the time cards are digital, companies can easily use them to keep track of remote workers who can clock in or out in the same manner as in-house employees.

Time Card Apps

Time card apps usually come in the form of standalone time card apps or time tracking software with integrated time card features. Employees use the time tracking software to clock in and clock out from any location or device. Moreover, some time card apps allow for real-time GPS tracking for remote or field-operating employees.

Aside from tracking clock-ins and clock-outs, some apps have project management features and can be used to generate accurate reports for client billing or employee activity.

Biometric Time Cards

Biometric time cards are similar to regular paper time cards, but instead of using physical or digital cards, employees use their palm prints or fingerprints when they clock in and out.

Each employee has their unique fingerprints scanned and added to the time card database so that the system can recognize them when they clock in. Biometric technology not only makes these time card systems one of the safest methods for tracking work hours but it also streamlines the process of clocking in and out as employees don’t have to carry swipe cards or tokens but simply use their hands.

The Advantages of Using Software Time Cards

Most businesses have switched out regular time cards that only measure the start and end of work hours with digital or software time cards that come with additional advantages.

Saving Time

Businesses that use time tracking software with digital time cards instead of standard time cards save company time and resources by eliminating manual input, as work time information is automatically added to the database.

Tracking Remote Employees’ Work Hours

Companies using classic time cards are not very welcoming to remote employees. This can be changed by implementing software time cards that would allow remote workers to track their work hours quickly, easily, and accurately.

Verifying Work Hours

Companies use time tracking software as it allows managers to verify the input from the software in the form of a time tracking report. The report systemizes an abundance of information, including which employees are working on which tasks and the duration of their work. 

Monitoring Productivity

Managers use time tracking software and real-time project data to monitor project progress. Managers see the tasks on which employees are spending most of their time, plan the workload distribution, and identify bottlenecks in the workflow. This, in turn, boosts employee productivity as the workflow gets adequately distributed.


Some project tasks require managers to send workers off-site or to a few different locations. When employees use manual time cards, managers have difficulty giving them instructions. Manual scheduling might also lead to mistakes, resulting in employees showing up to the wrong places or missing the off-site location entirely. 

The software sends the exact work location along with work instructions to the employees on their mobile devices or any other type of remote devices, such as tablets, and ensures they are at the right location. 

Additionally, managers can implement geofencing using this type of software for the purpose of creating virtual boundaries for using time cards within the workplace.