Learn about how RFID copiers work.

Author’s note: ButterflyMX access control fobs and key cards are encrypted and cannot be copied with an RFID copier.


Key takeaways

  • An RFID copier replicates the data from an unencrypted access credential and transfers it to a new credential.
  • ID card copy works by scanning and copying the integrated circuit of an access credential and writing it to a new credential.
  • Your smartphone can clone RFID devices thanks to a number of different apps.
  • The top RFID copiers on the market are ACR1252U USB NFC Reader III, HECERE Handheld ID Copier, and SYWAN English 10 Frequency NFC RFID Reader Copier.
  • Purchase an access control system for your property that only accepts encrypted fobs, which cannot be copied — such as ButterflyMX.


RFID technology is a vital component of many access control systems. As such, a vital addition to a property that uses an access control reader for RFID cards is an RFID copier.

This post will first cover why RFID copiers are dangerous for properties that use unencrypted access credentials. Next, we’ll examine how an RFID card copier reader writer works. Then, we explore several of the best RFID card duplicators that you can find for sale. Finally, we’ll explore an access control system that allows you to forgo traditional credentials altogether.

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The dangers of an RFID copier

Before diving into RFID copiers, it’s important to note that, as a property owner or manager, you do not want an access control system with credentials that an RFID copier can copy.

Anybody can purchase a key card copier; this makes it an ideal tool for criminals. Furthermore, this means that any one of your residents can give access credentials to unauthorized users. As a result, your building and secure spaces are at risk

ButterflyMX offers an access control system that uses only encrypted key cards and key fobs that an RFID copier cannot copy. This encryption makes your building much more secure.

RFID copiers cannot copy ButterflyMX’s encrypted key cards and fobs.

Credentials accepted by ButterflyMX include:

  • Key cards & fobs
  • Swipe-to-open from the ButterflyMX mobile app
  • PIN codes


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What is an RFID copier?

An RFID (radio frequency identification device) copier duplicates the data on an unencrypted RFID tag of various devices such as a key fob, key card, ID card, or vehicle tag. Many basic access control systems feature an RFID reader that uses radio frequency waves to verify the data stored on an access credential. If the data on said access credential aligns with what is programmed into the access control system, the user is granted access through a gate or doorway.

An RFID copier pairs with access control systems utilizing RFID technology for residential and commercial properties.


How is an RFID card duplicator useful?

An RFID card duplicator can quickly transfer the data from an existing card to a new card or fob as a replacement. The newly updated credential will then immediately be compatible with your access control reader.

Users often lose or damage physical access credentials such as key cards and key fobs. Having an RFID copier makes giving them a new credential a breeze. You may also find that your building needs more access credentials because of an increase in new users. Having the means to create new RFID credentials in-house saves time and saves you the effort of manually setting up each new access credential from computer software.

However, a con of RFID copiers is that criminals can use one to scan an existing unencrypted credential and use it to gain access to your property. This illegal practice is called RFID skimming. While you cannot do much to prevent this security risk, you can utilize other forms of security that circumvent RFID skimming. One such way you can prevent RFID skimming at your property includes encouraging tenants to store credentials in RFID-blocking wallets, purses, and card sleeves.

Furthermore, a ButterflyMX access control system features encrypted key fobs and key cards that cannot be copied or skimmed, ensuring that only authorized users can access your property.


Prevent RFID copier theft by putting keycards in protective sleeves.


How much does an RFID copier cost?

The price for an RFID copier on Amazon ranges between $20 and $100.

Before purchasing, consider how often you anticipate using your RFID copier. A more expensive device might have more features that benefit frequent usage.


What does a handheld RFID writer do?

A handheld RFID writer is the same thing as an RFID copier. Furthermore, handheld RFID writers are often pretty small, making storing them easier when they are not in use.


Is it possible to clone RFID?

Yes, it is possible to clone unencrypted RFID devices. In fact, cloning and copying mean the same thing when it comes to an RFID copier.

Additionally, long-range RFID skimmers can copy key fob or card data from your tenants from a distance. When you opt for RFID access technology, you must protect against these skimmers.


How does an RFID card copier work?

RFID copiers work by copying the unique information on unencrypted key fobs, key tags, and key cards to a different device.

All RFID-compatible access credentials feature an IC (integrated circuit) and a small antenna that picks up radio frequency waves. The RFID card copier often features a white button that you press, causing the device to scan the IC.

Once the unique information on the IC is scanned, you can insert a new unencrypted credential into the RFID duplicator and transfer the existing IC information to the new credential. This new credential will function just like the old one. Furthermore, the original card or access device will still work as normal.


Watch how ButterflyMX works:


How long does it take to use an RFID card copier?

The time it takes to clone unencrypted keys and key cards varies depending on the device’s frequency. Devices with higher frequencies will take longer to copy.
Side note: devices with higher frequencies are often more secure, so an RFID copier with a longer copying time isn’t necessarily a bad RFID copier.


Can you clone RFID with a Smartphone?

Yes, your smartphone can double as an RFID copier. However, it is not meant to repeatedly scan, duplicate, and transfer data to new access credentials. Instead, your smartphone can scan an unencrypted RFID credential and then open your access control system by displaying said credentials on the phone itself. As a result, your phone can become a credential.

Note: Despite copying an access credential, your phone might not connect with every access control system that utilizes RFID technology. As an alternative, the best access control systems have an app that allows for convenient mobile-based access.

This is useful if you want your residents or tenants not to have to worry about carrying around physical unencrypted credentials. However, there is no singular way to clone an RFID with an RFID copier for iPhone, Android, or other smart devices. Because there are different RFID cloning apps (some cheaper than others), this whole process can get messy.


The 3 best RFID copiers to buy

The best RFID copier for you depends on your unique property, the access control technology that you currently have set up, and how often you expect to use the copier. If you are wondering where to buy RFID copiers, you can find them on most online marketplaces, including Amazon and eBay.

Our picks for the three best RFID copiers are:

  1. ACR1252U USB NFC Reader III
  2. HECERE Handheld ID Copier
  3. SYWAN English 10 Frequency NFC RFID Reader Copier


1. ACR1252U USB NFC Reader III

Price: $60

The ACR1252U USB NFC Reader III has over 90 five-star reviews from customers. This small device connects to your computer and uses software to help copy data from one device and write it to another.

It copies credentials that are up to 13.56 MHz.


2. HECERE Handheld ID Copier

Price: $20

The HECERE Handheld ID copier is unique because it doesn’t need to be plugged into a computer. It’s mainly meant for transferring data from unencrypted RFID key cards and key fobs.

However, it copies credentials up to 125 KHz, which is on the low side. So, this device is perfect for low-security access credentials.


3. SYWAN English 10 Frequency NFC RFID Reader Copier

Price: $80

The SYWAN English 10 Frequency NFC RFID reader is an NFC reader that can clone devices with a frequency of up to 13.56 MHz. It has nearly 300 five-star reviews on Amazon.

However, the device is only compatible with Windows systems. So, it’s not compatible with Mac or Linux. Further, it doesn’t work with fully-encrypted cards, only partially encrypted.


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Nick Manzolillo

I'm a Rhode Island-based writer fascinated with real estate development, the inner workings of the real estate industry, and how real estate and technology blend together.

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