By reading this article, you will get a complete guide about the key card reader and some cards commonly seen in the market. As a leading provider of smart lock solutions in China, YGS is able to provide the most advanced electronic locking solutions, including RFID, Bluetooth, Zigbee technology, etc. Here, We will focus on introducing the card in the hotel industry and the hotel key card system behind the card. Hoping can give you some tips.

The key card reader is a device used to read and write data. The card reader acts as a medium for transmitting the information. When you insert the correct card into the slot and connect the port to the computer (with the required program), the computer will treat the card as a removable storage device that can be read and written.

Card readers can be divided into various types according to the different card types, including contact IC card readers, contactless IC card readers, ID card readers, and so on.

In our daily life, various card readers can be seen everywhere. For example, you will see ID card readers at schools, you will see credit card readers at banks, you will see room card readers at hotels, etc.

What types of hotels need key card readers?

One thing you need to know is that not all hotels use key card readers, sometimes a hotel needs key card readers because they are using an RFID or magnetic hotel lock system.

The key card reader is one of the most important components in hotel key card entry systems. The card reader needs to work with the hotel key card, hotel computer, and hotel door lock system software.

With the hotel card door lock system, you can create new room cards, change card information, delete cards, and more at any time.

key card reader 1

How does the key card work with a key card reader?

How many do you know about the hotel cards?

In a hotel, smart cards are one of the most familiar items for guests. From check-in to check-out, it is inseparable from the card. Nowadays, almost all hotels use readers not just for room door locks but also for elevators, passageways, hotel safe boxes, etc.

The most common type of card in hotels is swipe card. You just need to swipe your hotel card on the card reader to open the corresponding door.

Some people may worry that the personal information on the card will be leaked if lost. But in fact, the information on the card is usually only the room number, guest name, and valid time.

key card reader 2

Among them, the most used cards in the hotel industry are magnetic cards, RFID cards, and NFC cards. Let’s view the differences between them and how can they work with card readers.

Magnetic cardRFID cardNFC card
 Also namedMagnetic Stripe Card Radio Frequency Identification CardNear Field Communication Card
Brief introduction  A card has a magnetic stripe or a magnetic layer on the card’s surface. A kind of proximity card uses radio wave technology. A card with short-range high-frequency wireless communication technology. 
Card readerMagnetic readerRFID readerNFC reader
Read typesInsert cardSwipe cardSwipe card
Read distanceRequire to insert the card into the card readerRead range up to 5cmRead range up to 4cm
FunctionCan be read and written data
safetyLower confidentiality and securityCan support encryptionCan support encryption
priceCheapest optionMore expensive but secureMore expensive but secure

Application Scenario in hotel:

key card reader 3

Magnetic technology

Magnetic strip card readers in hotels are mainly used in front desk payment, and door unlocking. After check-in, guests will get a magnetic room card from the front desk staff, and then they can access their room by inserting the card into the magnetic read head of the door lock. When they are check-out, some hotels support bank card payment, which uses a magnetic reader with magnetic technology.

RFID technology

RFID technology is widely used in smart hotel systems. The main application scenarios are as follows: conference sign-in system, elevator security system, hotel all-in-one card system, guest consumption system, parking access control system, etc. People only need to swipe the access card in front of the corresponding door that can unlock. Different systems use different card readers, but their data can be transferred to the hotel management system, thus achieving unified management.

NFC technology

The application of NFC technology in the hotel field not only can open the door but also can connect to the guest room management system, and expand the payment method. By using NFC technology, hotel staff can more clearly the hotel room status, which can simplify hotel management. Guests can enjoy a more intelligent staying environment. Their mobile phone can become a credit card, room card, bus card, and more, which can achieve mobile unlock and mobile payment.

Advantages and disadvantages of hotel key card reader.

Now, you have a general learn about the key card and keycard reader, here are some advantages and disadvantages of using a hotel key card reader and a hotel key card lock system.

Card reading technology is cheaper than other technology, and the price of cards is cheap.The function is relatively simple. The cards cannot cover a range of industries, i.e. access control, payments, transports, redeeming rewards etc.
Easy to operate, a card can manage multiple door locks.Cards are easily worn out or lost.
With its small size and thin enough, easy to store.The user still needs to carry the key card, and cannot achieve complete keyless
Card permissions can be removed from the system at any time. Effectively restrict access.Cheap card readers are easy to crack and the cards are easy to clone, the security needs to be improved.
Realize personal tracking and audit trail.
Lower confidentiality and security
It is inseparable from manual operation and cannot create a contactless hotel.

Alternatives to key card access systems.

key card reader 4

(1) Keypads

The keypad access control system allows user entry without any physical devices, which is a kind of keyless entry system. Users will have a unique pin code, they only need to enter the code on the reader, and the door will be open if the code is correct. And they can share the pin code with someone else, and can change the code on their mobile phone at any time and in any place. But there will be a security loophole, everyone who has the pin code can enter your room including bad guys.

In some ways, a keypad access system is similar to a biometrics access system, both of them need the user to contact the reader, but they are not the best solutions for contactless hotels.

(2) Biometrics

Biometrics access control system is a new-types access technology, it uses the users’ biometrics characteristics as an unlocking key, such as fingerprint, facial features, finger vein, voice, etc. Biometrics system allows users to free their hands, unlocking without a key or a key card, because users are the key. This kind of system can realize contactless entry but depend on what biometrics recognize technology the system use. For example, face identification, iris pattern identification can support contactless.

(3) QR codes

QR codes system uses QR codes as unlocking keys, each lock equips a unique code. The user needs to place the QR code in front of the reader to scan, and once the reader confirms the code, it will unlock.

But the QR cords are prone to be copied, which is similar to the keypad system, they both can be shared, and have a low security, so they are used less or updated frequently.

However, its weakness can also be turned into strengths, due to its easy-to-update, one-time use, and easy-to-share, so it is suitable for the business with a large flow or strong fluidity, which can achieve more effective management.

(4) Mobile key

The principle of mobile keys is Bluetooth or NFC technology. After binding the lock with the smart devices, users only need to open the Bluetooth button on their mobile device open the mobile app or web page and click “One-click unlock” to unlock the door.

With a mobile key, user can use their smartphone to unlock, remote unlock, etc. It is the best solution for keyless entry and contactless check-in.

YGS Products

YGS RFID card reader 

YGS access controller is the best option to provide access to common areas, such as parking, meeting rooms, employee areas, or to control the night access of guests to the hotel.


  • Classic design makes recognition easy and immediately.
  • Share same card of door lock to access common areas.
  • Work with electric drop bolt or electric magnetic lock.
  • 1000 audit trail.
  • Vandal-proof version is optional
  • Compatible with all thin door, glass door, metal door.


  • Dimensions:125(L)X75(W)X22(H)mm
  • Working voltage: 12VDC
  • Current: 100mA
  • Card Style: Mifare one Card
  • Detecting distance: 0~50mm

YGS Bluetooth card reader


  • Features: MTB-ACS is a Bluetooth access control controller, which is specially developed for apartments/hotels/homestays.
  • It can be directly controlled by a card, password or mobile phone authorization issued by a networked lock management software (or APP).
  • Through easy management of drop bolt, magnetic lock etc, it improves access control safety effectively..

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