2023 U.S. hotel demand is projected to surpass 2019 levels. Hotels are bracing to accommodate a projected 1.3 Billion occupied nights in 2023, up 57% from 2020. 2023, therefore, is the ideal time to upgrade your hotel key cards to keep up with the influx, especially considering the short life of key cards.

Front Desk Supply is a leading hotel supplier for the hospitality industry. We offer a wide range of hotel supply products, such as custom pens, hotel key cards, key card sleeves, and more. Many of our clients who have used our services for years come to us with questions about how often they should upgrade their hotel key cards.

How Long Are Hotel Key Cards Meant to Last?

Magnetic key cards work because of the magnetic strip reader that holds information. This information is read by your hotel’s key card readers, accessing the lock. Hotel key cards are susceptible to demagnetization from coming into contact with small pocket magnets or from slowly demagnetizing over time.

How quickly a card is demagnetized depends on whether the card is of a low, medium, or high degree of magnetism. The hotel lock system itself will determine the degree of magnetism your key cards require.

In addition to the natural demagnetization of hotel key cards, repeated use can wear down the magnetic strip. The strip is prone to deteriorate due to the oils from hotel guests’ hands and built-up debris in the hotel key card reader. Therefore, magnetic key cards have a life of several thousand uses (a use is considered an erasing, encoding, swiping, etc.), or two to three years.

RFID hotel key cards tend to last longer than magnetic cards because they do not rely on magnets, and are less likely to deteriorate due to the friction between the key card and the reader. Under ideal conditions, the life of an RFID key card is twenty years. However, RFID cards are susceptible to heat, water, chemical decay, or rough use by hotel guests. Even if the chip itself continues to work, the design on the key cards will fade. They will realistically last three to five years.

Related Article: Maintaining RFID Key Cards: What Hotel Managers Don’t Tell You

Is it Time to Upgrade My Hotel Key Cards?

Whether your hotel uses a magnetic or RFID lock system, 2023 may be a good time to upgrade your hotel key cards if:

  • Your key cards are beginning to demagnetize
  • The designs on your key cards are beginning to fade
  • Your hotel has had a rebrand
  • You would like to update the design of your key cards
  • You’ve switched hotel lock systems
  • Enough cards have gone missing for your hotel to have insufficient stock
  • You would like to explore environmentally friendly options
  • You would like to create a more luxurious guest experience

What are My Options for Upgrading My Hotel Key Cards

You may choose to make a simple upgrade to your hotel key cards, or completely rethink your cards. Front Desk Supply has the resources to support you in whatever decision you make.


Hotel key card designs may be as simple or complex as you wish. Simple key card designs have a single color or multiple colors on a white key card. More complex designs include full-color key cards and photo key cards.

Luxury Materials and Finishes

Key cards can be made of many different materials, with some of the most popular being plastic, recycled PVC, compressed paper, wood, and metal. Simple card designs are made from plastic or PVC. For hotels wanting luxurious amenities for their high-end guest experiences, engraved wood or metal key cards are popular options.

Hotels may invest in metallic ink for luxurious-looking print materials. Matte and laminate finishes may complete the custom designs of key cards.

VIP or Membership Cards

VIP or Membership room keys make it easy for your staff to tell different guests apart. Some properties use Membership or VIP room cards to offer special discounts, exclusive access, rewards, or shopping benefits.

Your Source for Hotel Key Cards

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