What’s the difference between static and dynamic QR codes?

Static QR codes can’t be changed once they’re created, whereas dynamic QR codes allow you to update the scan destination after they have been created and printed.

Dynamic QR codes come in handy when mistakes are made and situations change.

Dynamic QR codes also let you do more advanced things like track how often your codes have been scanned or automatically change the scan destination based on things like the time it was scanned, where it was scanned from etc.

Although the extra features are super useful in some cases, the the ability to edit the scan destination and track scans is why most businesses use dynamic QR codes.

How do Dynamic QR codes work?

Static and dynamic QR codes are essentially the same, except when scanned, instead of going directly to the scan destination, dynamic codes take you to an intermediary link that then redirects you to the intended destination.

A graphic showing the difference between a static and dynamic QR code (static goes directly to the scan destination, while dynamic goes via a redirect link)

Dynamic QR code generators create the intermediary redirect links behind the scenes and provide you with an interface that lets you change the QR code destinations.

Other than making your QR codes editable, the redirect link is what powers the QR code tracking and analytics.

Again, all of this happens behind the scenes. When you use a QR code generator, you won’t notice much difference when generating static or dynamic QR codes.

When creating a static QR code, the scan destination is encoded directly into the pattern of the QR code. That's why it can't be edited once created.

When creating a dynamic code, the generator creates a redirect link, then encodes that into the pattern of the QR code. The actual redirect link on the QR code can't be changed, but you can change destination of the redirect link.

Benefits of dynamic QR codes

The main benefits of dynamic QR codes are the ones we have already covered:

  • You can edit the scan destination after the QR code has been created and printed
  • You can track the performance of your QR codes and see things like how many times they have been scanned, what devices were used to scan them, and estimates of the locations people scanned them from

They also allow for dynamic scan destinations based on certain traits. For example, you can use them to direct people who scan from an iPhone to an app listing on the App Store, while sending Android users to the Play Store.

One other benefit is that dynamic QR codes tend to have less complex patterns than static QR codes, especially if your scan destination link is quite long.

With dynamic QR codes, it's the redirect link being encoded onto the QR pattern, not the scan destination, so it doesn't matter if the scan destination link is super long.

For example, if you need your scan destination link has tracking parameters like so:


It ends up being quite long. Here's the difference between static and dynamic QR codes created for this link:

A static QR code on the left with a more complex pattern to a dynamic QR code on the right

Downsides of dynamic QR codes

Although dynamic codes offer more flexibility, static codes have their place.

One of the main issues with dynamic QR codes is that they rely on the redirect link to work. If the redirect link in the QR code stops working for whatever reason, the QR code becomes useless. At Hovercode, we don't expire our dynamic QR codes, but a lot of other providers only keep your dynamic codes active if you continue to pay for their service. They do this by disabling the redirect links used in the QR codes you create.

Static QR codes can't expire as the scan destination is encoded into the QR code pattern directly. If you are 100% sure you won't need to change your scan destination and you don't need tracking & analytics, static QR codes are usually the better option. They're also free to create with most services.

Another issue with dynamic QR codes is that when people scan them, they see the redirect link, instead of the scan destination. For example, if you create a dynamic QR code that takes people to your Facebook page, when people scan the code, they will see a redirect link that looks something like "scango.to/w7eh29."

As soon as they scan that, they will be redirected to your Facebook page. With static codes, they would see the Facebook link when scanning the code as there is no redirect link involved.

Most services (including Hovercode) offer a custom redirect domain feature to help with this issue, so if you're willing to pay for your QR code service, it's not a big deal.

How to create dynamic QR codes

Creating dynamic codes is very much like creating static ones. You just need to find a QR code generator that supports dynamic codes and make sure you’re using the dynamic option.

Hovercode (that's us!) lets you create 10 dynamic codes for free, so you can try them out and see if they're right for your business.

How to change the destination of QR codes

Once you’ve created your code, your QR code generator will offer an interface that lets you edit the scan destination. This usually involves signing up and creating an account with the service.

Here’s how QR code destination changing looks in Hovercode:

How much does it cost to create dynamic QR codes?

Creating static codes is usually free, but because dynamic codes involve more advanced features like editing and tracking, they usually require a subscription. Most services let you create a small amount of dynamic codes for free to get started with.

Prices range from ~$6 per month for small businesses all the way up to hundreds per month for enterprises that need to create high volumes of QR codes that will be scanned thousands of times.

The Hovercode free plan lets you create 10 dynamic and if you need more (or extra features), prices start at $12 per month.

If your use case for QR codes is basic and you don’t need features like editing and tracking, there’s no harm in using a static code, especially if you’re not worried about needing to change the scan destination in the future.

If you might need to change your QR code destination or would benefit from the more advanced features, dynamic is the way to go.

Generate your custom QR code

Create your editable & trackable QR code with Hovercode (for free!)