Do Hotels Charge For Lost Key Cards?

Last Updated on November 29, 2021

So you’ve lost your hotel key card and are wondering if you should own up.

Will it cost you to get a replacement key if you ask at the front desk? And if so, how much do hotels charge for replacement key cards?

As it happens, I have some recent experience of losing a room key card.

Here’s my story.

Do Hotels Charge For Key Cards?

I had been out at a restaurant for dinner and when leaving the table had that feeling I’d left something behind. I glanced at the table and didn’t see anything.

When I got back to my hotel the room key wasn’t in my wallet. I must have taken it out when I was paying the restaurant bill.

No biggie I thought. I went to the front desk and explained that I’d lost the key.

The guy at the front desk asked to see my passport and then began creating a new key for me.

All good so far…

But I was then scolded by the guy! He explained that he would replace the lost key card for free this time but if I lost it again he would charge me for it.

He’s lucky I’m a pretty chilled guy!

As it happens I’m booked to stay in the hotel for an entire month and spending close to $2000 with them. I didn’t appreciate being scolded because I’d lost a 20 cent piece of plastic.

If I lose the key again and they try to charge me anything more than a dollar I’ll be speaking to the manager.

Hotels rarely charge for lost key cards so if you lose yours just go to the front desk and they’ll should give you a new one for free.

The key code to open the door expires when they give you a new key. So you don’t need to worry about anyone finding the key and being able to enter your hotel room.

Plastic hotel room keys are great that way. They are a lot more convenient than an actual physical key. If I lost an actually metal key then I’d be fine paying a fee since the hotel would need to change the locks on the hotel room.

But charging for a 20 cent plastic room key would be ridiculous. I’d leave a negative review for any hotel that tried to do it, and I’d make sure the team at the front desk knew it was going to happen.

I think I might intentionally lose my 2nd replacement key before I leave this hotel to see what happens.

Will they have the balls to try to hit me with a fine? It will be interesting to find out.

Do You Need To Return Hotel Key Cards?

Sometimes travelers like to keep hold of hotel room key as a souvenir.

Old Dominion even wrote a song about it.

She kept the hotel key, slipped it in her purse, I guess it makes her think of me

Most hotels would prefer it if you return the keycard. It’s better for the environment if they can reuse the key for the next guest. So turn in the key if you can.

But if you keep the hotel key the hotel isn’t going to chase after you for it.

Plastic hotel keys are cheap, you don’t need to formally check out so you can just leave and the hotel won’t charge you for the key.

The Bottom Line

Hotels will replace at least one room key for free.

If they try to charge you for a replacement key let them know you’ll be unhappy and that you like to express your feelings on TripAdvisor.

Any hotel that cares about its reputation will replace your lost room key for free. A metal key would be a different story since the hotel would need to replace the whole lock.

Hotels do reuse key cards and would prefer it if you return the key card when you leave.

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