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Trends in ID card accessories

Exploring the credential accessories that are most popular with modern students

It comes as little surprise that students often damage their ID cards, so protecting them with convenient, cost effective ID card accessories can be a smart move. From simple wear-and-tear over time, to extreme instances like using the card as an ice scraper, it’s virtually guaranteed that students will do some kind of damage to their credential.

There are, however, ways to help preserve campus cards by using any of a number of accessories. Mark Degan, the director of Corporate Marketing at ColorID stresses the importance of these credential add-ons and how they can help protect the longevity of an ID.

ColorID sells a wide variety of card accessories to universities, as well as other verticals and there are notable trends according to Degan. He says the five most popular accessories include two unique lanyards, a card retainer, and a gripper. This top five list alone makes up 40% of all accessories the company sells.

Students tend to like card retainers and lanyards, but more importantly, the accessories can extend the life of the students’ ID cards.

Protecting the badge with ID card accessories

An age-old headache for card offices across the country, students are still attempting to punch holes in their campus cards so they can attach them to a lanyard. At best, this practice damages and weakens the physical credential, but for more advanced – and expensive – credentials like smart cards, the impact could render the card totally unusable.

Punching a hole in an ID card and damaging the internal antenna array leaves students with no other option than to make a trip to their campus card office and buy a replacement card. Grippers are one accessory that can provide an alternative to the dreaded hole punch, as they latch onto the ID card and can be coupled with a lanyard.

Students are more inclined to use a lanyard because they are often visually customized to their liking.

Grippers are available for different card thicknesses and can be made from different materials, including plastic, metal, or silicon. They come in the form of a strap or a clamp, with clamps being slightly bulkier in contrast to the straps.

Lanyards are also popular with students for their ability to keep handy a variety of items, such as keys, ID cards, and fobs all at once. Students tend to prefer lanyards over other card-holding accessories such as badge reels, explains Degan. “They are more inclined to use a lanyard because they are often visually customized to their liking,” he says.

While standard, blank lanyards cost less, universities often opt to customize lanyards to reflect the institution’s colors. “A number of universities utilize licensing companies to make sure that their brand is successfully manufactured,” Degan says.

While lanyards are meant to be worn around the neck, students usually keep their lanyard within reach for ease of access, such as wrapping it around their wrist or putting it into their pocket. Lanyards customized with school colors and logos remain one of the most popular card accessories for students.

Accessorizing accessibility

Retractors and badge reels are popular accessories in the healthcare vertical, as well as federal and state departments. Retractors slide onto a belt and offer wearers a quick way to retrieve their IDs – think a janitor’s keys.

These accessories have gained traction in the federal and healthcare industries because ID badges must be constantly visible. Despite the convenience of retractors, they don’t resonate quite as much with college students.

“It may be a generational issue where students are more inclined to use a lanyard attached to their card,” Degan says. “When it comes to higher education, campuses do purchase badge reels but students tend to prefer lanyards.”

A possible explanation for the lanyard’s popularity could be a combination of customization and accessibility. The functionality of lanyards, in particular, can offer better accessibility and customization than retractors.

But there is an option that offers the best of both worlds. One of ColorID’s more popular offerings is a lanyard with a built-in badge reel. This accessory offers both the accessibility of a lanyard and the convenience of a badge reel.

Rolling up the sleeves

Sleeves – also known as badge holders – are another popular accessory for students. One of ColorID’s more popular items includes a plastic vertical badge holder, where students can easily slip their ID in and out of the holder.

When students need to quickly present their ID, the use of a card sleeve can remove the need for students to fumble with a wallet or purse.

“One downside of this is that sleeves sometimes require students to take the card out of the sleeve when they need to use it to open a door,” Degan explains. “However, when it comes to a badge holder or a card retainer, students don’t seem to care what they use to hold their card in as long as their card is housed in something secure.”

With ID accessories, it’s just as much about convenience as it is about durability. Having to remove a card will be an inconvenience for students with mag stripe credentials. For this reason, some sleeves feature ejectors that make it easier for the student to remove their ID card from the holder.

ID accessories are more than just gifts or novelty items for students; they’re insurance for a vital component of a student’s life on campus.

Putting the card in a case attached to a student smartphone is also an option – it’s convenient for students to have everything in one place. Despite the fact that students are never far from their smartphone, one potential risk to this accessory is that in the event a student loses their device, they’ll also lose their student ID card.

To get students on board with these card-saving accessories, Degan recommends campuses put together a “welcome” bag of sorts during orientation that contain card accessories. “Not only does this provide students with the necessary tools to extend he life of their ID card, but it reiterates the importance of the credential while it’s fresh in students’ minds.”

“Campuses and students alike should consider putting the campus card in some sort of card holder so that it’s immediately protected,” Degan says. “Ultimately, it’s more than just a gift or novelty item for students; it’s insurance for the safety of a vital component of a student’s life on campus.”

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