This woman's hotel room hack is a game-changer

Erin Donnelly
Many hotels now require keycards to turn on the power in a room. (Photo: Design Pics/Getty Images)
Many hotels now require keycards to turn on the power in a room. (Photo: Design Pics/Getty Images)

Once upon a time, hotel rooms came with actual keys. Now they typically involve being issued a plastic keycard that may or may not work when waved at a door, or be demagnetized when stored alongside a mobile phone, scratched, or exposed to the hot sun.

Many hotels also require that a keycard be inserted into a wall panel before the power, including any lights and air conditioning, will turn on in the room. It’s an energy-efficient method that ensures lights aren’t needlessly left on when the room is empty.

But if you’ve only got one keycard and need to use an electrical outlet to charge a phone, camera, or laptop while you’re out, it can pose a bit of an obstacle. You need the keycard to get back into the room, and therefore you can’t use it to activate the power.

But one Twitter user, Katy Moon, found a clever way to hack the system. During her stay at a hotel in Ireland, she needed to find a way to charge her battery pack in her room while she went out for dinner. The solution: Using a plastic supermarket loyalty card to trick the power panel into thinking the hotel keycard had been inserted.

The post has met with some amazement, with one commenter calling it a “life-changer.”

Moon has clarified that the plastic card hack won’t work at all hotels. Some use an RFID (radio-frequency identification) or NFC (near-field communication) system that will only recognize the actual hotel keycard, in which case it’s best to ask the front desk for a duplicate. If, for example, instead of a magnetic strip your keycard has a chip resembling a phone’s SIM card, it’s unlikely to be hackable.

Otherwise, it might be worth rifling through your wallet.

“I assume any keycard that doesn’t have the magnetic strip would be RFID/NFC, but there’s no harm in checking,” Moon told Yahoo Lifestyle.

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