Hotel key cards are the preferred keyless access control for most hotels. Before programming, these blank key cards do not serve any purpose. After programming, hotel room key cards can have specific functions for a specified time. Next, I will explain what is a hotel key card? Its working principle, types, and what you should do if you lose it.

What is a Hotel Key Card?

A hotel key card is an alternative to traditional metal keys. It provides users a simpler and more secure way to open their rooms.

There are many options available for hotel access control systems. Different countries and hotel chains may use different access control systems. But they are all the same concept.

The working principle of these hotel key cards is simple. A card reader reads key cards within its radius. The authorization information of that keycard is confirmed, and access is granted/denied.

In addition, You can use it to unlock many pathways. Commonly, it can unlock your room. It can also give you access to many guest areas, such as the gym, pool, restaurant, etc.

How Hotel Key Cards Work?

There are many technologies used for hotel access control. These technologies can be used not only for room access control. The hotel can use it to restrict unauthorized access to elevators. Some are even used for parking management.

Most technologies used in hotel key cards for room access control are similar. The user uses them to attach a scan or insert a digital key. Their use is basically to grant the user access to the room.

The following scenarios usually characterize the typical operation of hotel keycards in hotels.

  • Guest Check-in

The first thing almost everyone will do when they arrive at a hotel is to check-in. The front desk staff will first confirm the identity of the person making the reservation with you. After confirming that the identity is correct, you are ready to check-in.

Hotel key cards play a vital role in the check-in process. The staff will take out a blank key card for programming.

Each hotel may use a different type of key. The programming methods they take are different. Take a magnetic key card as an example. Magnetic key card programmers usually have two slots. One is where you insert the card after programming. The other one is programmed to be used to insert into the computer.

The hotel key card programming must be coupled with the lock system software. This software is mainly used to enter the necessary information into the blank hotel key card. The hotel lock system software also allows you to set the permissions for the programmed hotel key card. The hotel will connect the programmed hotel key card to the digital system of your room.

  • Enjoy Hotel Facility Services

After checking in, you will be given an exclusive hotel key card. You can use your card to enjoy the hotel facilities and services. For example, open your room door, choose your elevator floor, access the gym, etc.

Many hotels currently have elevators that are restricted. These elevators can only be used by hotel guests or staff. They require a hotel key card to use the elevator floor buttons. In the case of such outsiders as takeaways, visitors, etc., they will not be able to access some floors at will. This restriction can greatly protect the privacy and personal safety of customers.

You can enter and exit your room freely. The entrance to your hotel room is usually equipped with a card reader. You can tap or slide the card reader with your hotel key card. After a few seconds, you will hear the mechanism unlock. You can then successfully open the door and enter the room.

  • Hotel Key Cards As Energy Switches

Most hotel key cards act as an energy switch to power your room. Once you enter the room, you must place the hotel key card in the small reader next to the door. This small reader mainly reads the key card data and authorizes it to use electricity. With the key card in the reader, the room has the power to run the electronics. You can then use all the facilities in the room normally.

Using hotel key cards as energy-saving switches can greatly reduce customers’ electricity consumption. Not only does this design conform to the green hotel concept, but it also provides a second use for your key card. The electrical appliances in the room only work when you are in the room. The room will lose power when you go out and pull the card.

  • Check-out Card Reset

Once you have checked out, the staff will reset your hotel key card. The staff will erase the data information that exists on your hotel key card. The card will revert to a blank key card. The staff member can recycle the key card.

People can use the key card for any door in the hotel. So if a hotel key card is damaged or lost, the staff can quickly replace it. The staff only needs to reprogram another key card, and you can enjoy the same service in the hotel.

Hotel Key Card Types

There are three types of hotel key cards that are usually used in hotels. They are magnetic cards, RFID hotel key cards, and hybrid key cards. These cards are “key cards” mainly used for hotel access control. Most importantly, all three types of hotel key cards allow programming.

Magnetic Card

Magnetic stripe card is the most commonly used hotel key card type in hotels
Magnetic stripe card is the most commonly used hotel key card type in hotels

Most hotels choose the type of hotel key card. It is because it is the most common and the least expensive. People usually also call this card MSR. The magnetic card is mainly made of PVS plastic. It has a very visible magnetic stripe on the back. This magnetic stripe is used to store information related to your stay. Users usually use the card’s magnetic stripe to slide down through the reader and thus unlock the door.

RFID Hotel Key Card

RFID hotel key card unlocks door with close contact
RFID hotel key card unlocks door with close contact

They look almost identical to magnetic cards, but they are still distinctly different. But the differences are obvious: RFID hotel key cards have an embedded antenna. The wireless communication between the chip and the reader is mainly done through this antenna. Most people will use it for access control or payment purposes.

Hybrid Key Card

Hybrid key card for magnetic and RFID access control systems
Hybrid key card for magnetic and RFID access control systems

As the name suggests, it is a hybrid hotel key card. It is compatible with traditional magnetic key cards. It is also suitable for newer door locks. The point is that one can program it using both magnetic stripe and RFID technology. It has become particularly popular in the last few years.

Are Hotel Key Cards Secure?

The key card used by the hotel cannot be copied and tampered with by others. Unauthorized people cannot tamper with the keycards. These keycards also do not store private information about guests. Most hotel key cards contain up to 4 pieces of information.

  • The room number of the unlocked room
  • The start date of the unlocking of the specified room
  • The time you lost the unlocking feature
  • Guest number

This information is for internal hotel personnel only. Guests do not have to worry about losing sensitive information even if they lose their key card. However, traditional keys are easy to duplicate. A criminal can easily use a duplicate key card to access your room. While you can change your locks often, that is usually a hassle.

Most people will choose to mark their traditional keys with the room number. It is an effective way to prevent key mix-ups. But this creates a huge security risk. If you lose your key and a stranger picks it up. A stranger could easily use the key information to find your room and commit a crime. Unlike key cards, which are low-risk. If you lose your key, you can immediately respond to the hotel staff. Staff will remotely remove access to the key. You can also quickly get a new hotel key card.

Hotel key card systems are more secure than other forms of access control. We can use a lock and key system as an example. If you have many rooms, you will not know who has what keys. It is because these keys are easy to duplicate. If one key is lost, your entire system is potentially compromised. Hotel key card systems are different. They allow you to manually deactivate these keys in case of a lost, stolen key card.

What Should I do If I Lose My Hotel Key Card?

You often don’t actually “lose” your hotel key card. When cleaning the room, the cleaning staff eventually finds the most lost key cards. You need to double-check your wallet, your pockets, and your room. But if you can’t find it, you should do the following immediately.

  • Please report it to the hotel.
  • Check your old card usage history.
  • Get a new hotel key card.

When reporting the loss of your room card to the hotel, please ensure you have your valuables. It is to prevent the person who stole your card from sneaking into your room and stealing your belongings.

In addition, the front desk may incur additional charges for a new card issued after your old card has been deactivated. Whether or not the hotel will charge a fee depends on the hotel’s policy.

Of course, obtaining a new card is not as easy as it seems. The hotel will require proof of this, such as your order information. It is to avoid malicious disruptions by others and to keep your information secure.

Can I Add My Hotel Key Card to My iPhone?

Some hotels allow you to add your hotel keycard to your Apple Wallet on your iPhone. Then, you can view your hotel reservation details on your iPhone or Apple Watch. You can also check-in and unlock your room on it.

To add a hotel room keycard to your iPhone, you’ll need:

  • iOS latest version or Monitor OS.
  • Apple ID to sign in to iCloud.
  • Enable two-factor authentication.
  • Prepare to book a hotel or resort that supports this feature.
  • Download the hotel or resort app.
  • Have a valid hotel and resort account.

Once you have the above materials, you can add the hotel room key to your iPhone. The specific operation steps are as follows:

  • Open the app of the hotel or resort you are going to book.
  • Log in to your account.
  • Open the reservation.
  • Select “Add to Apple Wallet.”
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to add your hotel room key.

In addition, when you successfully add the key to your iPhone, it will automatically be added to your Apple Watch. If you do not have that hotel card on your Apple Watch, you can add it again by following the steps above.

Once your iPhone has your hotel room key card, you can quickly unlock your room door. You can place your device on the door lock to quickly unlock your room with your hotel keycard.

Of course, the hotel keycard is deactivated and archived at the end of your stay. If you don’t like the hotel, you can manually delete it yourself.

Aren’t these hotel key cards more convenient and secure than traditional keys? Even if you lose it unintentionally or someone steals it, you don’t have to worry about your information being compromised. Nowadays, technology is more and more advanced, and it also allows you to add your key card to your iPhone. You don’t have to worry about forgetting your room card when you go out for business.

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