Key Card Printing Basics At-A-Glance

With opportunities to include advertising on each side of the plastic and options like hi-read mag stripes, a key card printing project can seem daunting. The team offers the helpful information below, knowledgeable customer service and a graphics design team to help you simplify your key card printing project.

Key card printing basics include card design and card functions. Combining the right materials with a solid design can produce cards that last, work efficiently - and perhaps most importantly - cards that pay for themselves through key card advertisements.

Key card features, typically, include magnetic stripes (mag stripes) and specific card size and thickness. Our mag stripes work with most popular key encoding systems and we offer several thicknesses of cards for various key slot requirements. The artwork that you add to your key card printing can vary from your logo and basic property information to ads paid for by local area merchants. To make sure that your key cards will be crisply and accurately printed, we use the best digital printing technology available.  Use the information below to help you get your key card printing project rolling.

Key card printing starts with choosing your card color. If your key cards will not include advertising, and your graphics are a single color, you might consider printing your artwork on colored plastic cards. There are many colors available including, red, blue, green, pink and others. Typically, colored cards are printed with one ink color lighter ink colors on darker cards and darker ink colors on lighter colored cards. Colored card printing can keep your printing costs down - but - colored cards restrict the design of the artwork on you key cards. However, digital printing has made full color printing and affordable high quality alternative to colored card printing.

In fact, to attract local merchants to pay for advertisement on your key cards, you will probably want to print full color graphics onto a white card. Digital, full color printing enables you - or your advertisers - to use high quality graphics including photos and logos and multiple colors of text. White cards can cost slightly less than colored cards and digital printing tends to cost slightly more than one color printing. As a result, you can get full color key card printing at prices very close to color card prices. We recommend that you design your gift cards in full color to be printed on standard sized white plastic cards.


The size of your key cards is determined by your key card lock system. The standard size for most key card locking systems is a 3 3/8” x 2 1/8” card. This size is the same size as most traditional credit cards, sometimes called the CR 80. However, most key card printing is done on plastic that is thinner than credit cards.

What’s the right size for your key cards?

To choose the right size (and thickness) for your key card printing project, measure one of your current cards and/or consult with your key card system provider. Better yet, send us a sample of the cards you use now. We'll let you know the exact size and thickness - and provide you with pricing based on your needs.

Most key card printing is done on 3 3/8” x 2 1/8” plastic cards. This size is compatible with most key card lock systems. This size allows plenty of room for your logo and graphics and for advertiser’s artwork. We offer free key card printing templates based on the standard size.


Standard white 30 mil plastic is the most commonly used key card printing material. Again, be certain of the thickness of card that your key card system requires. If you are not sure what thickness to order, please send us a sample of your key cards. We'll use a special tool (a micrometer) to accurately measure your cards. Trust for custom key card printing as well. If your system does use a nonstandard material, keep in mind that these materials are less economical than thinner plastic cards.


Key cards have mag stripes. The stripe encodes the key with a new key code every time the card is swiped through the encoder. mag stripes are of the highest quality - meaning - you should experience fewer "bad reads" with our mag stripes on your key cards. If you would like to test out mag stripes, just let customer service know.