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Difference Between RFID & Magstripe Key Card

rfid vs magstrip key cards

Key cards play an essential role in granting access to various areas in a building. Therefore, when updating or choosing the key cards, especially for a hotel, there are many factors one should consider. These include; how large or small the building is, what’s the budget, and how up-to-date the technology systems are. RFID and magnetic stripe cards are the most common types of cards in the hotel industry that offers different benefits and features based on your answers to the above questions.


RFID key cards


In the hotel industry, RFID key cards are a newer technology. The key cards offer a contactless system of unlocking doors, therefore, you don’t need to swipe the card on a reader but have the RFID card near its reader. A tiny chip present in the RFID key card stores information such as the unlocking code of the room number, which is transmitted to the reader via RF waves. Upon receiving the information, if it’s correct, the reader processes it and unlocks the door. For guests to access their rooms, they simply touch the key card to a pad on the hotel room’s door.  RFID key cards are highly compatible with various locking systems even though hotels continuously improve and update their hotel’s security. They have less maintenance and offer a longer lifespan compared to magnetic key cards. The pricing of RFID key cards may vary depending on your customization requests and locking systems.


Magnetic stripe key cards


They are a more traditional key card option that unlocks the door when the guest slides the key card into the magnetized slot and the magnetic stripe lines up correctly. To access the room with a magnetic strip key card, you’ll need to swipe the key card on the reader so that the information is transferred to it and the door is unlocked. The cards have different levels of magnetization available and each level offers different levels of protection. HiCo magnetization is more expensive and is a stronger card. A LoCo magnetic key card has a shorter lifespan but is typically more affordable. HiCo cards are more resilient, unlike LoCo cards which can be easily demagnetized by holding the card to a cellphone. These magnetic options are typically lower cost and may be easier to integrate with your current room-locking systems when compared to RFID cards. Using a card cleaner, you’ll need to clean the room locks at least once per week when using magnetic key cards.


How to choose the best key card for your hotel


Many factors come into play when choosing the right card to use at your hotel. The cost of the key card is typically the biggest factor to consider. Magnetic stripe key cards are more affordable than RFID key cards. However, RFID key cards have lower maintenance costs and a longer lifespan, therefore, they are a recommended option. If the hotel is classy and luxurious, guests will expect the latest high-tech options. However, a classic magnetic card may be the best choice for the hotel if you are looking for a more cost-effective option.


Click here to learn more about hotel key cards.




It’s important to consider that sometimes guests often take keys with them as a souvenir as well as the cost of lost keys when choosing the right key card for your hotel.


Click here to learn the latest eco-friendly hotel key cards, BioPaper cards.

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