If you manage an apartment complex and are trying to upgrade security, do more than just put in shiny new locks. Look into getting a card access system where people use small plastic cards with chips embedded in them to access areas of the complex. These have several advantages over regular keys and may prove to be more cost-effective if your complex has to rekey or replace locks a lot.

Replacing Key After Key After Key

In a card access system, the card is coded to match particular locks. If the card does not have a code for a particular lock, the card won't open that door. If you want to change someone's access, all you have to do is change the codes on their cards, adding or removing the codes as appropriate. You don't have to change the locks on a door, rekey a lock, or retrieve keys from someone.

With regular keys, you have to have separate keys, and each lock has to be individually set to match those keys. It's impossible to ensure that the person you're dealing with—say they have to return a key—did not make a copy of the key to use after their official key was taken away.

If all you have to do is reprogram a lock or a card, you don't really have to replace anything. Maybe you have to get a new card if the other person didn't return theirs, but you don't have to worry about changing all the codes for everyone in the complex for all the locks in the complex. But rekeying locks and replacing keys costs money. Over time, that cost will grow into a noticeable amount.

Accessible Records

Card access systems also provide you with a record of who entered what area. If you find items missing or see vandalism, you can check the records to see who entered the area during the time period when you think the crimes occurred.

Regular keys don't provide this service. You can get keys that contain computer chips in them, and they can provide a record of what keys were used in which locks and when. But then you'd potentially have to go through that process of rekeying or replacing locks and keys again if someone gained access to a place they shouldn't have been in.

Card access systems make managing the locks and keys at a complex much easier to deal with. Talk to a card access company or a locksmith who can install these access points about how using codes and cards can further benefit you.