If you are a hotelier looking to embrace high-quality and sustainable supplies for your hotel guests, wood hotel key cards are an excellent choice. These cards are beautiful and environmentally friendly, adding luxury to your hotel and improving your guest experience. Unfortunately, many vendors are taking advantage of this trend to sell synthetic wood hotel key cards to hotels.

Front Desk Supply has been a leading hotel supplier for US hotels, with a dedication to high-quality and environmentally friendly hotel supplies. Our team has access to insider information about the world of hotel supplies, and how hotels can protect themselves from fake products.

Read below to learn more about the dangers of synthetic wooden hotel key cards and how to tell if your key cards are fake.

Are Fake Wood Hotel Key Cards Bad?

Synthetic wood is plastics-based. It is typically made by blending wood fibers with plastics into a composite. If you are seeking wood that is legitimate and sustainable, these fake wood hotel key cards can come with serious consequences.


Fake wood is worse for the environment than real wood, and usually worse for the environment than recycled PVC or plastic key cards. These products are not biodegradable and have no carbon offset value.

Dangerous Chemicals:

Many fake wood products have come out of China with formaldehyde levels 6.5 – 8x higher than is legally allowed for sale or use in the US under the 2010 Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act and the EU under REACH/Regulation (EU) 2023/1464. These products are falsely advertised as natural FSC-certified wood.


Fake wood hotel key cards are not as beautiful or high quality as real wood, meaning they look cheap and can fall apart easily. Many methods of customizing wooden products do not work as effectively in fake wood products, meaning the products may look dingy or the designs may be misprinted.

How To Tell if Wood Hotel Key Cards Are Fake

It can be difficult to detect synthetic wood without close inspection, but there are a few simple ways to tell:

1. Inspect the Laser Engraving

Synthetic wood cannot be laser engraved the way real wood can. Real wood engraving will have clean laser-engraved graphics that are etched into the wood. Fake wood, however, must have graphics UV color-printed into it to emulate real engraving. These graphics sit at the surface

“If you have seen wood where the engraving wasn’t deeply etched into the surface of the card, it is most likely fake wood. Foreign scammers selling fake wood cards always push hotels towards ink print, but when they need to do laser engraving, they do it shallowly. You can barely feel it as a deboss when you run your finger over it.”

— Mark Zisek, Director of Commercial Operations, Front Desk Supply

2. Heat Test

Real wood will peel along the natural grain of the wood when heated to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas fake wood will peel in unbroken layers when heated. 

3. Examine the Wood Grain

In real wood, the wood grain pattern will widely vary in the same way that trees have unique grain patterns. Fake wood has grain patterns printed on and may be the same in the front and the back of the card, or may repeat in the same pattern

4. Investigate the Fibers

Real wood cards will tear cleanly along the natural wood grain. Fake wood cards will often reveal the plastic fibers when torn.

How to Ensure Your Always Order Real Wooden Key Cards

Relying on a trusted, US-based hotel supplier is the best way to protect yourself from fake hotel supplies. A hotel supplier vets all of the products that hotels order, meaning that you are unlikely to get fake supplies from a mysterious vendor overseas.

Front Desk Supply partners with hotels, boutiques, and nationwide hotel chains to find the right product for your property based on your sustainability needs.  We offer various styles of wood RFID key cards, RFID wristbands and wooden magnetic key cards, as well as a host of other eco-friendly products.  Please visit: https://frontdesksupply.com/eco-line/ for all the products we offer – go green!

If you have a question or need a quote for a custom order, get in touch with our team through our contact form or by calling (888)-859-2061.