How to take care of your proxy / swipe cards

Original article from our Access Credentials store

Access in your pocket

We tend to take our little swipe cards for granted sometimes, using them to prop the leg on the table or scrape ice from our windshields on a cold winter morning. But even our little plastic buddies have some limitations, here's some of the common ways your access card can be wiped or formatted (in nerd computing terms) so that you aren't stuck out in the cold with no access.

What are Proximity / Swipe cards?

Proximity cards or swipe cards as they are more commonly known are thin plastic sleeves that have an integrated circuit that is attached to an antenna coil. They use a radio-frequency identification protocol called RFID which is activated when powered by a reader at close range.

They come in many forms such as cards, tags, stickers, chips, bracelets and more!

When properly handled, proximity cards are a very reliable device. Here are the main reasons you may experience proximity card failure so you can avoid them:


Internal cracking of the electronic parts ie. the chip and antenna.

This can occur through normal wear and tear over long periods of time but the main contributor is excessive bending of the card. This can break the bond between the chip and the antenna rendering it kaput (useless). As the card technology gets thinner and thinner the ability to break them gets much easier too. A trade off for not having bulky cards though.....


Exposing the card to electrostatic discharge (ESD).

Proximity cards have a tiny integrated circuit inside the plastic which can be formatted by static electricity. Using them to shield yourself in a lightning storm or rubbing them on your hair like a balloon is a great way to zero out that data. But seriously, keeping them away from areas that cause static like a pocket and in your wallet will keep the card in a working state.


Exposing the cards to extreme magnetic fields.

Magnetic fields can also format chip’s programming, making it totally unusable. So pinning them to the fridge with your kids pictures is not a good idea or if you work at the magnet factory... you get the idea.


Proximity cards are fairly tough but if any of the above has caused your swipe card to fail then it will most likely need replacing.


This is the same for tags, stickers and remotes that have RFID / proximity chips inside.


A smart, affordable, and simple way to ensure the safety and longevity of your prox cards is by using a badge holder connected to a retractable clip or lanyard. Keeping them in your wallet is also a good idea but if your wallet gets sat on in your back pocket all day then that could also reduce the life of your card.


Access Credentials give 12 months warranty on any of the products we sell from the time of purchase or received by the tenant, this gives you peace of mind that if your access credential device fails through no fault of your own (ie. You've taken care to not do any of the above to your poor little card!!) then you don’t have to pay for a replacement.


If you have any issues with your cards, remotes, tags, stickers or bracelets then please contact your strata representative for a replacement.