Is Combination Lock or Key Lock Better for Luggage?


Is Combination Lock or Key Lock Better for Luggage?

Selecting the suitable TSA approved luggage lock is essential for ensuring the safety of your luggage while travelling. Two common options are combination locks and key locks. But which one is better? Let's break it down to help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Combination Locks

Combination suitcase locks are convenient because you don't need a key to open them. Instead, you turn numbered dials to align with a specific combination. They're easy to use and don't require keeping track of keys. Here are some pros and cons of combination locks:


  • Convenience: Combination luggage locks don't require carrying a key, making them convenient to use.
  • Ease of Use: They operate by aligning numbered dials with a specific combination, which is straightforward.
  • No Key to Lose: Since there's no key involved, there's no risk of losing it during travel.
  • Enhanced Security: With a 3-Dial padlock offering over 1,000 combinations and a 4-Dial padlock boasting 10,000 combinations, the possibilities are extensive, providing greater security for your belongings.


  • Security Concerns: Combination suitcase padlocks are susceptible to being cracked through trial and error.
  • Forgetfulness: Forgetting the combination can render the lock useless, requiring additional hassle to open or unlock it.

Best Practices for Safeguarding Your Luggage Lock Combination:

  • Use memorable combinations: When setting your combination, choose numbers that are easy for you to memorise but difficult for others to guess. Avoid using obvious combinations like birthdates or sequential numbers.
  • Store combination securely: Consider storing your combination in a secure location, such as a note saved in your phone's notes app, taking a picture with your smartphone or printed down in a discreet place in your wallet. Just make sure it's somewhere accessible to you but not to others.

When to Use Combination Locks

Combination luggage locks for suitcases can be handy in situations where you don't want to carry a key or worry about losing it. They're great for securing luggage during short trips or when you're in a rush and don't want the hassle of keeping track of keys.

Understanding Key Locks

Key travel padlocks for luggage, on the other hand, require a key to open. Without the correct key, the lock remains secure. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of key locks:


  • High Security: Keyed locks offer a higher level of security, as they require the correct key for opening.
  • Resistance to Tampering: They're less exposed to manipulation techniques like guessing or shimming.
  • Key Control: Only people with the key can access the lock, providing peace of mind for securing valuable items.


  • Key Management: There's a risk of losing the key, which can be problematic if there's no spare or if it's misplaced during travel.
  • Key Dependency: You need to carry the key with you at all times to access your luggage, which can be inconvenient.
  • Potential Key Damage: Keys can break or get damaged, leading to difficulties in unlocking the luggage.

When to Use Key Locks

Key locks are particularly appropriate for busy individuals as they are less prone to technical malfunctions or forgotten combinations, ensuring your luggage remains securely locked during travel. They offer peace of mind knowing that only you have the key to access your luggage.

Helpful Tips:

Secure Combination: If using a combination lock, ensure you scramble the combination after locking your luggage to prevent unauthorised access. Avoid setting the combination while people are nearby who might see it.

Backup Keys: If using a key lock, always carry a spare key in a separate place in case you lose the original.

Test Your Lock: Before your trip, test your chosen lock to ensure it functions properly and fits your luggage securely.

Whether opting for a combination lock or a key lock, each has its advantages and disadvantages to consider. Combination locks offer convenience and ease of use but may pose security risks if the combination is cracked or forgotten. On the other hand, key locks provide higher security levels but require careful key management. For those seeking convenience and simplicity, combination locks may be preferable, while key locks offer enhanced security and peace of mind, particularly for busy travellers. Regardless of your choice, following best practices such as securing combinations, carrying spare keys, and testing locks before travel ensures optimal security for your luggage throughout your journey.


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