10 Best TSA Approved Luggage Locks in 2020
Whether you’re a frequent flyer, an avid backpacker, or a cruise enthusiast, luggage can become a hassle. With all the jostling and rolling around your belongings regularly go through, you’ve probably decided it’s time to make sure your stuff is really secure. Cue the luggage lock.
Which type of luggage lock you’re in the market for might depend on whether you pass through TSA (Transportation Security Administration) frequently, as in airports. There are certain requirements they’ve set for which suitcase locks can pass through security. This is because they have to be able to access bags when passengers are boarded a lot of the time. We’ll go over some of those options in detail here.
Some locks are meant to have extra security benefits, while others are traditional, simple and effective. Small or large, complex or simplistic, here are ten luggage lock options sure to keep your belongings safe.
Locks featured in this list primarily come in 3 types:
Combination Cable Locks
Cable locks differ from regular locks because the loop at the top is made of a flexible steel cable, rather than a solid steel or bronze metal. These generally only come in 3-digit combination code options, but the convenience of threading the flexible wire as you please is a huge selling point.
Search Alert Locks
For those who prefer knowing whether or not security had to rummage through their bags, there are some locks offering features which will let you know. These options are steadily growing in popularity.
Padlocks are the classic way of securing luggage and anything else that needs secure. With the solid metal at the top securing whatever you need together, you can be sure that wire clippers aren’t getting through these bad boys. They are old-style and easy to use.
10 Best Luggage Locks in 2020
- Durable Alloy Body
- Lifetime Guarantee
- 3-Digit Combination Lock with 720 Possible Combinations
- 4-Inch Flexible Cable
- Must Be Relocked by TSA
Best for the quality and the security of knowing TSA has to relock this luggage lock.
If you’ve used a luggage lock before, you may have gotten it back at the baggage claim and noticed TSA went through it because they left it unlocked. While this isn’t a frequent occurrence, sometimes they’re moving fast enough to miss locking it again. The best feature of this Forge Cable Lock is the fact that TSA actually can’t remove their master key unless it’s been relocked. That means they can unlock it, check the bag, and then when they try to pull their key out, it’s stuck unless they secure the lock once more. It’s an ingenious way of providing extra security.
- 3-Digit Combination Lock: 720 possible lock combinations.
- SearchAlert Light
- Flexible Secure Cable: For looping through zippers or handles.
- Lifetime Warranty
- Easy-to-Read Dials and Durable Design
For those who aren’t a fan of TSA and the fact that they can access your luggage while it’s going through security, this innovative combination lock by Tarris has a search alert. Tarriss is a brand known for excellent customer service too!
When you set the lock, a green light will turn on. If TSA has to use the little keyhole at the bottom to look through your stuff, that little light will turn red, so once you get your bag back, you can check everything, reset the lock, and feel peaceful and in control of your belongings.
While there are many positive reviews for the Tarriss TSA Lock, there are a few saying it is possible to open it without the code. However, no lock is 100% secure, and the main awesome feature of this product is the fact that you can tell if you had your bag checked.
- Key (Extra Keys Included)
- Bonus Padlock
- Great Price
- Conveniently Small, Concealable Design
- Brass and Steel Construction with ABS Plastic Body
- Well-Known Manufacturer
If you prefer the reliability of holding the key to your own luggage, and you’re not a fan of the combination code method, Lewis N. Clark has a TSA-Approved lock which could be perfect for you. This smaller, convenient option comes with an extra set of keys and a bonus mini lock for carry-ons or purses.
- 4-Foot Steel Cable Extension: Perfect for tying luggage together securely.
- Durable Coated Steel Design
- 3-Digit Resettable Combination Lock with 720 Possible Combinations
- Comes in Black, Silver, and Red
If you have more than one bag and you’d prefer to A) keep them together and B) keep them secure, this cable lock comes with a 4-foot steel cable extension to secure the bags together.
Keyless and TSA approved, you’ll be making an investment in the security of your belongings. This particular luggage lock also had many positive reviews, mainly indicating that the product is easy-to-use and the cable feature is convenient and what they needed.
- 3-Digit Combination Lock with Classic White-on-Red Dials
- Inspection Alert Button
- Flexible & Durable 4-Inch Cable for Convenience
- Color Options
- Easy-to-Read Dials
This convenient, inspection-alerting lock has a 4-inch cable lock and can be purchased on its own or in a pack. It has a little red button at the top of the lock body which will pop up if TSA had to use their master key to get into your belongings, so that when you pick up your bags later, you can know whether or not they were searched.
- TSA Approved (Travel Sentry Logo): Meets TSA requirements.
- Lifetime Warranty
- Durable Body
- High-Contrast, Readable Digits
- Bright, Identifiable Luggage Tag Colors Available
From unique colors to flexibility to being TSA approved and lightweight, Anvil cable locks really have it all. Anvil offers competitive prices and lifetime warranties on their locks, as well as durable zinc alloy materials.
There’s also an easy-to-follow instructional video they provide for setting your combination lock. Many Amazon reviewers who purchased the Anvil Cable Locks have said that it was easy to set the codes, they were a great value, and that they were happy with their purchase. It comes with a 4-Inch Flexible Cable; Convenient for looking through zipper holes or handles. Like many others in the guide, it features a 3-Digit Combination setup with 720 possible lock combinations.
- Lifetime Warranty
- Comes in Black and Orange
- TSA-Approved/ Meets TSA requirements.
- Durable & light
Also offering the flexibility of a cable lock and meeting all of the TSA requirements for luggage locks, the TravelMore Combination Lock is available in packs of varying sizes and at good prices. TravelMore also offers a lifetime warranty on their products.
- 4-Digit Resettable Combination with 10,000 Combination Options
- Steel Engraved Numbers
- Zinc Alloy and Plated Steel Construction
- 1-Year Warranty
- Color Options Available
For a classic and simple approach to securing your one or maybe two bags, these padlocks are a great option.
Although they don’t offer the flexibility of cable locks, they are extra hard to break into and guarantee that you’ll be the only one in and out of your bag, thank you very much (except for TSA agents, which can access it TSA locks through the keyhole).
- ID’s on Tags
- No Keys, Combos, or Clippers Needed
- Opened by Hand
- No Master Key Needed
If locks don’t serve your needs then these pick proof seals just might! Uniquely colored and IDed zip ties can be looped through zippers and zipped together, and TSA is okay with this security option.
If they see a broken zip tie on a bag, they can see if that someone has tampered with your bag, whether it was other TSA personnel or a thief. Finally, you can see the zip tie has been tampered with. Since it’s uniquely IDed and colored, and since zip ties can’t be relocked, rezipped, or replaced, you will have full knowledge about the state of your belongings throughout the travel process.
- 4-Digit Code with 10,000 Combination Options
- Multiple Color Options
- Suitable for Right & Left-Handed Buyers
- Good for General Storage and Travel (not TSA Approved)
With nearly 4,000 5-star reviews on Amazon and plenty of selling points, this classic-style padlock offers a 4-digit code and various color options. It’s not TSA-approved, so this one is mainly on the list for traveling outside of the airport, such as on buses or while backpacking.
The positive reviews for this classic padlock product are plentiful, and most of them state that the code was super easy to use. It’s popular for gym-goers, students, and travelers alike.
How to Choose the Best Luggage Lock
The kind of luggage lock you’re after will depend on three things: the carry-on bags and suitcases you’re planning on using, where you’re going with them, and also what kind of lock you prefer on a personal level. There are no wrong luggage lock options.
For example, if you’re trying to travel light and have quick access to your purse in a foreign country, but you want to keep your stuff secure, you might not want a heavier padlock or a long cable winding around your bag. That practically shouts that you have goods to protect. Below are some general rules to follow when searching for the right luggage lock for you.
Bags and Suitcases
Decide if using a smaller padlock to lock zippers together is effective, or if a flexible cable will be needed to fully secure your larger duffel bag or suitcase.
If you’re traveling light, with maybe a backpack carry-on and a purse, a recommendable choice would be the Lewis N. Clark TSA Approved luggage lock. These are lightweight, easy to use, allow TSA to get inside should that be necessary, and they are barely noticeable. Of course, these require keys, so perhaps the Anvil Cable Locks are a safer bet.
If you have bulkier suitcases and you prefer your luggage secured altogether, you might try Option #3, the Lumintrail TSA Approved luggage lock. This has the 4-foot extension cable that allows you to lock down whatever you need to for your travels.
Where You’re Going
Take into account whether or not you’ll be traveling through airport security. If you are, check and make sure the luggage lock you choose has the Travel Sentry Logo on it. This means it has a little keyhole which TSA personnel can use to double-check your luggage, instead of cutting the lock off.
If you want to know if TSA has unlocked your bag for any security reasons, try out the Tarrisx TSA lock. The SeachAlert feature will be red when you get your bag or suitcase back, letting you know they used their key to look in your belongings.
If you’re planning on driving to a cruise port and heading out from there, and you want to keep your backpack or purse extra-secure while you’re in Cozumel or the Bahamas visiting ports the cruise ship is stopping at, try Option #5, the 4-Digit Security Padlock by Desired Tools. This one is perfect, secure, and easy to use on trips that don’t require airports or TSA.
Determine if you’re comfortable remembering a 3-digit or 4-digit code, and if you’re not sure that’s your forte (or if you’d prefer not to write it down or text it to yourself), opt for a padlock designed with a key. Just make sure there’s an extra one and keep track of it.
Determine whether you have a preference between steel padlocks or cable locks. Some people much prefer the flexibility and non-metallic feel of the cable locks on backpacks, duffel bags, or purses and like the solid, metal-and-combination-lock stuff on their actual suitcases.
Take into account the reputability of the company, whether or not you think you may need a warranty or guarantee on a luggage lock (these are nice, but not always a selling point for everyone), and how functional the luggage lock design would be for you.
Choosing a luggage lock can be made easy if a trip is well-planned and you already have the bags or suitcases you’ll be traveling with. However, if you don’t have your bags yet, you might be wondering if you should simply go for one with the lock already embedded.
Why Inbuilt Suitcase Locks Aren’t the Best
Locks which are integrated into the design of a suitcase are made to be opened much easier than separate luggage locks. Why is that? If companies made suitcases which were impossible to get into without the remembered code or set of keys, they would have a lot of angry customers who accidentally locked themselves out of their luggage. Many brands like Samsonite, Delsey all boast built-in suitcase locks.
Understandably, incorporating bypasses and more mild locks into suitcases is the more viable option, for the suitcase manufacturers and buyers alike. If your goal is to protect your luggage and deter the interest of anyone who might break into your stuff, buying a suitcase with a built-in security system is probably not in your best interest.
On the other hand, if you’re simply trying to discourage any thievery around your bags, and you’re convinced that most people trying to steal your belongings will be turned away by the appearance of a security system, a built-in lock for your luggage might be a nice, convenient feature.
There are TSA-approved suitcases which keep general snoopers away but still allow airport security to access belongings, should the need arise. The low-maintenance, convenient and sufficient locks on these suitcases might suit your needs just fine. If you’re still eyeing the separate locks so you can use them for the gym or school, that’s a great option too.
TSA Locks, Security, and Keys
Airport security can be a hassle and often takes up quite a bit of time. A big period of this process is the security point where TSA agents scan luggage, belongings, and passengers. Anything looking suspicious or giving their magic scanners a suspicious signal is liable to be searched, either forcibly or easily.
A stir about airport security has been made over the last few years because a picture of the TSA’s master keys was found online, and people have found how to copy these keys. While this raises a lot of concern in some groups, others are less concerned. They understand that having at least some TSA-approved protection for their luggage (even when they have nothing valuable in there) helps give them peace of mind. It also allows the security process to move smoothly.
However, if you’re worried about potential thieves armed with copies of the TSA’s keys strolling throughout the airport looking for the next locked back and hoping they’re not caught on the cameras or by the security personnel, it’s a good idea to keep your valuables in your carry-on. As a rule, keeping valuables and identification on your person is a good way of monitoring your things while traveling.