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Key FOB Office Entry System vs Key Card Access Control

Posted on August 24, 2021

Commercial security is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today. It’s essential for businesses to protect themselves by using the latest advancements in the field of security like a key fob office entry system—this allows you to control who enters your building, and when, with much more precision than a metal key. 

Key FOB vs Key Card for Office Access Control Systems

Key fobs are a form of keyless security. Instead of relying on traditional keys to open doors, you can use fobs to open doors electronically. Fobs are easy and convenient to use and can upgrade the security of a business

Key fobs interact with readers, which lock and unlock doors. Keys and readers communicate with each other using radio-frequency identification (RFID).  They contain antennas and microchips that allow them to share their unique IDs with the reader, and when the reader recognizes that ID, it unlocks the door.

Because key fobs use radio signals, RFID is exceptionally difficult to hack, making it one of the most secure ways to lock a door.

Key card access control systems are another option for security aside from traditional keys. Most modern key cards use RFID, just like fobs, because they are more secure than magnetic key cards. 

Magnetic key cards are often seen in hotels, and they work by storing data in the magnetic strip. This type of key card is easy to copy and can be damaged by magnets or wear and tear. Credit cards use this technology, though many are switching to chips because they’re more secure.

Both key cards and fobs are secure options for access control systems, but they provide that security in different formats.

Types of Key Fobs

There are two primary types of key fobs, the passive and the active. Each one functions differently.

Passive key fobs are the most affordable option. They tend to be small, and they don’t need to have batteries. They are activated by the presence of an RFID reader, which sends a request to them. They’re also read-only, meaning you cannot write over or edit the data they contain. 

They tend to have a very limited range, meaning you can only open doors with them when you are in close proximity. Some fobs are semi-passive, containing a battery that lets them function with a wider range. 

Active fobs, on the other hand, are the higher-end, more expensive option. These contain a battery that allows them to work across distances up to 100 feet. 

These fobs can be written over with new information when necessary. Their increased functionality means they’re also larger, but they can still fit on a key ring.

Types of Key Cards

There are a few main options when it comes to key cards.

The first kind of key card is a swipe card. You’ve likely encountered this kind of entry card at hotels. They have the same black magnetic strip as credit cards, allowing them to hold a lot of data. 

These key cards are popular at hotels because they can be overwritten with new information when necessary. This keeps hotel rooms safe even if someone loses or keeps a key—they can change the ID needed to get into a room.

Smart cards are another type of key card. These use RFID just like key fobs, and they allow you to open doors with your proximity. They’re able to open doors within small proximity, often just a few inches. Still, they are more convenient than traditional keys.

Benefits of Key Fob and Card Access

Key fobs and cards are two similar forms of technology, but they have different advantages in different situations.

Both of these systems limit unauthorized entries into a building, which is a major win for commercial security. The most modern version of both of these uses RFID, a very secure form of electronic lock. 

Key fobs are simple and low-profile, which is perfect for certain work environments. They’re also easy to order and don’t require custom printing like some key cards might. They’re easy to replace because they don’t need to be custom printed.

Key cards, on the other hand, can display printed information in a way that fobs cannot. You can have a name, photo, and more printed on a key card, which is useful if employees need to display an ID at the door or scan an ID barcode for any reason. 

Disadvantages of Key Card and Fob Access

No system is perfect, and keys and fobs have their own share of disadvantages. Some business owners may find this system a good fit for their needs, but others may not want to take the leap. 

Key cards unfortunately can’t provide remote access. Instead, they must be held up directly to the reader or inserted, depending on the type of key card. Most commercial key fob door entry systems have a wider range than key cards, however.

One of the biggest drawbacks of using a key card or fob to access buildings is the possibility of losing the credential. This is easily replaceable, but there is a cost to this. The lost fob can be deactivated in the access control system. 

Should You Get a Key Card or Key Fob Access Control System?

Offices are always looking for ways to improve security and safety, and access control systems are one of the best ways to do that. If you’re considering a key card or key fob system, here are some things to consider.

Either one of these access control systems allows you to track people’s entries into the building, providing you with valuable data. This data is especially helpful in the case of any suspicious or criminal activity.

Key cards are useful because they can contain printed information, like photo identification or a scannable barcode. Fobs are a bit more limited because they are small and designed to open doors via RFID, but they are more discreet.

Ultimately, the best choice for your business will likely depend on the company culture, whether the company needs better security and convenience options.


Key cards and key fobs are both great, secure ways to access a building. They allow businesses a high degree of control over who can enter parts of a building, and they monitor the use of entryways. 

Key cards can double as work identification and can be stored easily in a wallet. Key fobs are simple and have a wide range, and they’re often the most convenient to use.

Whatever you choose, we can help you find the best cloud access control system for your individual needs, contact us at Action 1st Loss Prevention today.

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