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6 Types Of Hotel Key Cards

hotel key card types

A hotel key card is important to electronically gain access to the hotel’s facility. The lock on the door is one of the most important factors of the hotel guest room. In the past, basic metal keys were used in the control systems and these were easily lost and costly to replace. Key cards have replaced the metallic keys that are activated at the front desk upon checking in. The key card is a credit card type that has a special code and is preprogrammed with guest arrival and departure information. The key card only works within the duration of the guest’s stay.

6 types of hotel key cards

1. Master key card

Even though these locks have key cards that are specific to each one, this key card is designed to open a set of several locks. The locks that have master key cards have a second set of mechanisms used to open them. These locks are, however, identical to all of the others in the set of locks. The master key cards are made depending on the number of sections/ floors in the hotel. For example, if the hotel consists of 10 sections/ floors, there will be 10 pieces of master key cards.

2. Staff key card

Upon being vetted and hired, hotel staff will be required to sign or complete a form outlining the conditions and acknowledging receipt of access to the staff key card. This key card is provided to staff who are on a full-time or permanent basis and are accountable for their card’s security. The staff card allows ease of access to all the areas they need to get their job done. By inputting a PIN or scanning the key card, the staff can get wherever they need to be with ease. The card is used to access various hotel facilities for housekeeping, taking an order, storage, accessing elevators, or setting up the necessary materials in preparation for guest use. Employees can enter the hotel’s premises whenever they need to, especially if they work at different times. Also, at the end of the day, managers don’t need to stay late to lock up and the employee can come in early without waiting for someone to unlock the doors.

3. Guest key card

Upon checking in, a guest is given a key card that allows him/her to access the hotel’s facility. The key card only works within the guest’s stay duration. This key card allows him/her to enjoy the gym, room, spa, and sauna services after booking. In case a guest loses their key card, the front desk hostess simply deactivates the lost key card and issues a new one.

4. Supervisor key card

In all departments in the hospitality industry, a specific key card that operates all sections on the floor(s) is supervised by a particular supervisor. The supervisor key card allows access to all areas in their departments. The housekeeping supervisor is issued more than one key card to inspect the work of more than one public area attendant and GRA (Guest Room Attendant)

5. Emergency key card

Even when the guestroom doors are double locked, this key card will grant access. In case a guest needs help and is unable to reach or open the door, this key card is used to open the room. For safety reasons, this key card should be highly protected and used under strictly controlled and recorded times. The key card should never leave the property as it may compromise the hotel’s security. Have the key card locked in a safe deposit box or safe and signed out by the individual needing one. Any individual taking the key should write the date and sign in the key control log for close monitoring.

6. Grandmaster key card

The key card operates all the hotel’s locks. Housekeeping heads keep this key card as it gives access to linen and laundry rooms too.

What are the differences between these cards?

The key card control systems in modern hotels are computer-controlled. These cards restrict unwanted entry, are efficient, cost-effective, lightweight, allow the management to personalize and promote the hotel’s brand. The above cards differ on functionality and who is using them. The hotel owner can save money on security personnel and locks with the key cards by accessing control security. Without the need for a security guard, the access control system can verify a person’s identity.

Important key card control procedures

Various key cards serve different crucial services to both the guests and staff in a hotel. Therefore, from the moment anyone arrives on the hotel premises, the key card is essential for granting access. The following key card control procedures should be adhered to;

  1. Establish a protocol for key card distribution
  2. Perform a regular key card audit
  3. In case of key card loss or compromise, it should be reported immediately for decision-making on whether or not the lock should be changed
  4. In case a key card is stolen, the locks should either be rotated or changed to another part of the property
  5. On all key cards signed out have a key card control book
  6. Well-secured key card return boxes should be placed at exit points of the hotel, in courtesy vehicles, and the lobby
  7. Store key cards securely and separately for easier identification
  8. Non-authorized personnel should not be allowed access to any key card
  9. Upon a guest checking out, authorized employees should remind guests to return the key cards.


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