Hotel Key Card Hack: How Does It Work and How to Avoid?

Last Updated on May 26, 2024 by Vincent Zhu

The hotel door lock system‘s security is the hotel’s top priority to ensure the safety of hotel customers.

How to avoid hotel key card hacks and cause guests financial losses becomes particularly important.

Before we learn how to avoid hotel key card hacking, let’s look at how hotel key cards are hacked.

What is the hotel key card hack?

The hotel key card hack is a technique that allows anyone to open your door without needing a physical key. This method was first discovered in 2012 and has since been used by criminals worldwide. It involves using an RFID reader to scan for the chip inside your room key card. After copying successfully, you can use this copied card to open the RFID hotel lock in the hotel room.

Hotel key card hack

Once the chip is located, the criminal uses a cheap RFID writer to program a hotel key card with your information. They can then use this fake hotel key card to access your room whenever they want, day or night.

Can hotel key cards be hacked?

The answer to “Can hotel key cards be hacked?” is yes, and it’s terrifying. Although most hotel lock systems are encrypted, they can still be hacked.

Can hotel key cards be hacked

If you have an illegal copy of your hotel key card, you may be the victim of identity theft. Even more terrifying is that this crime has been going on for years, and many people still don’t know how easy it is to fall victim to it.

Let me explain how the hotel key card hack works. When you check in at a hotel, you have an RFID chip attached to your room key card; this chip stores data about your room number and other credentials that allow you to access certain areas of the building, like hotel elevators or pools.

You swipe your room key over your door’s lock so that the computer inside recognizes what room number they are in front of and whether or not they are allowed into those spaces; it also unlocks any latches found inside (like those on windows).

Can you copy a hotel key card?

Unfortunately, yes. Depending on the card type you’re working with, there are several ways to copy hotel key cards.

Can you copy a hotel key card

The simplest way to copy a key card is by using an RFID reader and a blank key card, like these from Amazon.

You have to swipe the original key card through the RFID reader (a device that reads the information of your key card’s RFID chip) and then lift your blank key card through the same reader, and you’ll have copied it! (NOTE: this only works for RFID key cards).

How to make a master hotel key card?

Required Materials: Card stock, magnetic tape or card (depending on your door lock model), scissors, and a printer

Now that you have all the required materials, it’s time to make a master hotel key card that can open any door in the hotel.

To do this, go into the hotel room and close the door. Then insert your regular key card into the lock and remove it after one second (remember to remove it after a second of insertion)

How to make a master hotel key card

Print your design onto card stock paper using your printer and cut out the printed image using scissors.

Afterward, write down the information about each section of the magnetic tape – for example, what part is used as data storage, etc. With this information, you can try to remagnetize a hotel key card and reproduce that exact sequence to create an identical magnetic strip onto your brand-new printed master keycard.

Hotel key card power switch hack.

The hotel key card power switch hack is straightforward. The premise is to determine what type of key card power switch is used in the hotel room.

If a fundamental coupler hotel energy switch is used, any card can be plugged in to hack this key card power switch and power the room.

If the hotel uses an RFID key card power switch, such as a Mifare key card power switch, you can also access the power by inserting the corresponding MIFARE card, such as your ID card, bank card, etc.

Hotel key card power switch hack

If the hotel uses a one-to-one key card power switch, which allows only the room key card matching the hotel lock to be inserted to take power, this key card power switch will be difficult to crack.

Clone hotel key card Android

Hotel key card hacking is one of the most common ways burglars break into hotel rooms. Sometimes, the thief may even be an employee of the facility, but this is often unnecessary.

A tourist can also duplicate a key by using a smartphone app. Use your device’s camera to read the data on a card, then write that information onto another blank one with an NFC writer app like TagWriter or NFC Tools Pro Reader/Writer (both accessible).

Once you’ve done this, swipe it through the lock again and enter!

If someone were trying to break in while they had access to your room as an employee or was staying next door at night when there weren’t many people around, either way, though, these methods would work well enough without requiring much skill from someone who wants some quick cash.

How to avoid hotel key card hacks as a hotel guest?

Hotel Key Card Hack: How Does It Work and How to Avoid? 1

  1. Change your key card each time you stay at a hotel.
  2. Ensure your key card is in good condition by not ripping off the magnetic strip or bending the card.
  3. Take your keycard with you when you leave the room, including trips down to the lobby or even when you walk around the block or to a restaurant for dinner—don’t leave it behind in your hotel room!
  4. Please don’t leave it in your car overnight. It’ll be exposed to extreme temperatures that can damage its functionality or even eradicate it if left inside an overheated vehicle during the summer months (and yes, this has happened!).
  5. Don’t let your key card out of sight. A hacker can only steal your information if they have direct access to it, so the answer to this question should be obvious. You should hold on to your hotel key and place it back in its proper spot before you leave in the morning.
  6. Please don’t leave your key card near a magnet or anything that can demagnetize it—it will be useless for getting into and out of rooms and elevators. But they can also be accessible for hackers to steal all the sensitive information stored on your key card, so keep them away!
  7. Don’t leave your key card in a pocket near your cell phone. If you want to keep everything safe and secure but still don’t trust yourself not to forget where you placed that little plastic rectangle, put it next door in one of the pockets of your pants, jacket, or bag—make sure it’s nowhere near the front next door where all those pesky electronics are. It’s best if there’s nothing else with batteries or magnetic strips nearby because those could interfere with each other just enough that something gets erased!

How to avoid hotel key card hacks as a hotel owner?

There are several ways to ensure the safety of your guests’ personal information and valuables when preventing hotel key card hacks as a business owner.

  1. The best way to ensure you won’t be a hotel key card hacking victim is to avoid using magnetic stripe cards altogether. Instead, consider upgrading old magnetic stripe card hotel locks to RFID key card locks that use encrypted chips or microprocessors, which are harder for hackers to break into and gain access to.
  2. Please educate yourself on how hackers use RFID readers; once you understand how they operate, it’s easy to avoid hacking or helping someone else break into another person’s private space without permission!
  3. Ensure everyone at the front desk knows what to do if they find stolen goods in one of their rooms, even though every guest has signed an agreement stating that all items left behind after checkout time will be disposed of immediately upon discovery (regardless). This helps ensure no one gets caught holding onto what belongs elsewhere!”
  4. Don’t leave your room key unattended, especially if you have valuable belongings in your room.
  5. Consider using a chip-based credit card at hotels that accept this secure transaction.
  6. Educate yourself about hotel key card hacks and similar scams to know what to look for when checking a hotel or other types of lodging.
  7. You can also take extra precautions to ensure your doors have secure locks. The safest option is a security lock with a magnetic strip on the door to prevent tampering and entry with copied keys.
  8. Another option is to use more sophisticated locks, like RFID-enabled locks that can be remotely accessed and managed through a mobile app.
  9. In short, invest in modern, secure security systems if you want your property safe from thieves.

Also, if you want to avoid hotel key card hacks, check our TThotel door lock system to help you secure your hotel room door more safely, remotely, and conveniently with your phone.

How to Make a Key Card Work Again?

If your hotel key cards have been hacked and do not work anymore, you can also try to make a key card work again; for more information, please check this article: How to Make a Key Card Work Again? A Step-By-Step Guide 

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About Author

  • Vincent Zhu

    Vincent Zhu has 10 years of smart lock system experience and specializes in offering hotel door lock systems and home door lock system solutions from design, configuration, installation, and troubleshooting. Whether you want to install an RFID keyless door lock for your hotel, a keyless keypad door lock for your home door, or have any other questions and troubleshooting requests about smart door locks, don't hesitate to contact me at any time.

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