Safety Code for Hotel Key Cards

A simple reminder for travelers:

Always take a small magnet on your holiday, they come in handy at the end. Just in case, you never thought about key cards containing anything other than an access code for your room

Hotel Key Card

What is on your magnetic key card?

a.  Customer’s name
b.  Customer’s partial home address
c.  Hotel room number
d..  Check-in date and out dates
e. Customer’s credit card number and expiration date!

When  you turn them in to the front desk, your personal information is there for any employee to access by simply scanning the card in the hotel scanner. An  employee can take a hand full of cards home and by using a scanning device,  he/she can access the information onto a laptop computer and go shopping at your  expense.

Simply put, hotels do not erase the information on these cards until an employee reissues the card to the next hotel guest. At that time, the new guest’s information is electronically ‘overwritten’ on the card and the previous guest’s information is erased in the overwriting  process.

But until the card is rewritten for the next guest, it usually is kept in a drawer at the front desk with YOUR INFORMATION ON IT.

The bottom line is: Keep the cards, take them home with you as a souvenir, or destroy them. Never leave them behind in the room or room wastebasket, and do not turn them into the front desk when you check out of a room. They will not charge you  for the card (it’s illegal) and you’ll be sure, you are not leaving a lot of valuable personal information on it that could be easily lifted off with any simple scanning device card reader.

For the same reason, if you arrive at the airport and discover you still have the card key in your pocket, do not toss it in an airport trash basket. Take it home and destroy it by cutting it up, especially through the electronic information strip.

If you have a small magnet, pass it across the magnetic strip several times. Then try it out on the door, it will not work. A magnet erases everything on the card.

Information courtesy of:  Metropolitan Police Service.


  1. I hadn’t realised how much information can be on those cards – thanks for the tip! I think a magnet is the best idea – no hassles at check-out about having “lost” the card.

  2. Hi,
    I work at a hotel and I knwo that our key cards only have encoded information that indicates the time it’s good for and room number. The personal information is all stired in the hotels computer system. A service agent can look up this information any time(management and auditors only has access to entire credit card numbers via new security requirements by credit card companies). It is easy to find out information based on the key card because we know who stayed in which room and when via our records. There is no reason to store personal information on the cards themselves. By the way, if the card is completely wiped out by water or a magnet, the hotel staff have to throw the card in the garbage because it is no longer re-usable. I’m not sure that maybe some other hotels do what this article mentions but I highly doubt is it common practise.

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