Why isn’t my access control card working?

The most common scenarios for an access control card not working are:

1.Your card may be incorrectly programmed
2. The bond between the chip and antenna may have broken
3. The card may be damaged
4. The card may have become demagnetised
5. You may be trying to access a restricted area

The exact problem will depend on the type of card technology you are using, but as they are generally durable products, it’s likely that the reason behind a non-functioning access control card will be listed here.

1. Your card may be incorrectly programmed

A simple explanation as to why your access control card isn’t working is a problem with the programming of your card rather than an error. It’s beneficial to check with your security manager or administrator that your card is programmed appropriately, and grants you entry to the correct areas of the site.

2. The bond between the chip and antenna may have broken

If the access card has been damaged either from general wear and tear or through using it for things other than access control, the bond between the chip and antenna may have broken. This means the frequency between the card reader and the card itself can no longer be passed between the field; making the card unusable.

With contactless cards or proximity cards where there is no magnetic stripe, it can be difficult to tell if the internal technology is damaged. But, if the card is internally cracked or split and isn’t working at all, then it’s more than likely that the internal antenna or wiring has been compromised.

Again, the only way to resolve this problem is with a new card. Even if your card seems to work intermittently, your problem will only get worse. 

3. The card may be damaged

Access control cards are generally very durable, but from time to time they might look undamaged, but actually have internal issues. This can be the case if the card has been subjected to moisture or has been submerged in water. 

Unfortunately, the only solution in a case like this will be to replace your card with a new one. 

4. The card may have become demagnetised (magstripe only)

Sometimes, magnetic stripe cards can become demagnetised. This can often be caused by placing the card in your wallet too close to a credit card, magnets on clothing items or jewellery. LoCo cards are more prone to this, while HiCo cards are generally more durable and designed to last longer. 

A quick fix to your demagnetising problem would be to get your card replaced, although LoCo cards can easily be reprogrammed which will generally solve your problem.

To prevent this from occurring next time, avoid storing your card near credit cards or protect your card by placing it in a plastic sleeve to avoid damage.

If you use a magnetic stripe card and the iron strip on the back of the card gets scratched, the reader is unable to read the existing data. This may be another reason why your access control card might not be working. 

We advise that you keep your cards away from objects that could interfere with the strips such as coins, keys and other metal objects.


5. You may be trying to access a restricted area

If your workplace is a large business, or if it is deemed to be ‘high-risk’ from a security standpoint, you may want to check with your security manager whether you have the correct access rights. 

Access control cards will always be assigned to a person, which allows security managers to trace who is using the card and when. It’s worth knowing what rights and access privileges your card gives you before considering if is broken, particularly if it is not damaged externally. 

Still unsure?

If you think you’re suffering from one of the above issue, the best solution is to get in contact with the person that issued you with the card in your organisation.

However, if you’re the person responsible for issuing access control cards, we can assist you. 

Contact our support team for further guidance.

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