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Will Smartphones Soon Replace Plastic Hotel Key Cards?

Will Smartphones Soon Replace Plastic Hotel Key Cards? recently unveiled new technology that will enable guests to check in and out of their hotel rooms from a mobile device. Using a third-party app, guests will generate digital key cards that work much in the same way as existing tap-and-pay stations.

Expedia Inc., the company behind the innovation, forecasts the release of this technology by March 2017. Although Europe will get it first, large franchises here in North America have already shown great interest in the product.

The Chief Benefits of Keyless Entry

The switch from metal to plastic made a lot of sense for hotels. Plastics are easier to replace, manufacture and secure. Many of these benefits can extend to smartphones; however, there would have to be significant hardware and software upgrades to handle the amount of data processing involved.


Smartphone entry allows guests to skip lines at the front desk and walk straight up to their rooms. From booking to ordering services, guests will be able to perform everything from their mobile phones, streamlining much of the hospitality experience.


A digital pass works with a single authorized device. Conversely, a key card can change holders and still work. With smartphone security improving year-over-year (i.e. fingerprint scanners), this transition might offer greater security benefits for hotels.

Loss or Damage

Plastic key cards can get demagnetized when stored next to smartphones. This happens to credit cards and loyalty cards, too. Likewise, plastic cards are easier to lose or break compared to a smartphone, which costs anywhere between $500 and $1500 and never leaves the hand.