Should You Use Your Hotel Room's Safe?

Just how secure is your hotel room safe, anyway? Most hotels that offer in-room safes encourage guests to store valuables and travel documents in those safes. Countless hotel guests have done just that, with no problems or losses. However, a quick online search will show you that some hotel guests have had items stolen from in-room safes.

There are pros and cons to using in-room safes. They're convenient and easy to use, and most travelers have no problems when they use hotel room safes.

On the other hand, there are a few issues you should consider before you toss your passport and electronic devices into that small safe.

Issues with In-Room Safes

Hotel Staff Can Open the Safe

It's only logical. If a hotel guest forgets the safe's passcode, someone has to be able to open the door. Some hotel safes have manager's passcodes, while others come with a separate device that managers can use to bypass the code and open the door. Although the vast majority of hotel employees would never think of stealing from a hotel safe, some travelers have reported that items such as cash and small electronics have been taken from their in-room safes. Since the safes showed no signs of damage or tampering, it is reasonable to conclude that someone with the manager's passcode or opening device might be responsible for the thefts.

Hotel Liability Disclaimers

Many travelers are not aware that hotels can limit their liability for items placed in hotel room safes. If the worst happens and items do vanish from your in-room safe, your hotel may not be responsible for reimbursing you.

When you make your reservation, ask about the hotel's liability policies. If your hotel's policies limit liability for guests' lost or stolen items, consider purchasing a travel insurance policy or review your homeowner's or renter's policy to see if stolen items are covered. You can also ask about using the safe at the hotel's desk instead of the one in your room, as liability limits may be different.

In addition to the liability issue, any dispute will come down to your word against the hotel staff's. Unless you have rigged up a private security camera, you will not be able to definitely prove that a hotel employee stole your valuables.

Insurance Deductibles

If you need to file a claim on your homeowner's or renter's policy, you will have to pay your deductible, reducing the amount of compensation you will receive.


Some hotels charge a daily fee to use the in-room safe.

In-Room Safe Usage Tips

Use a Strong Passcode

Avoid choosing number patterns such as "1234" or "5555." Number patterns are easily duplicated by thieves.

Check the Safe

Be sure the safe works properly before you store anything inside of it. Look at the number panel; if it is oily or dusty, wipe it down. Thieves sometimes coat the panel with a substance that will show fingerprints, allowing them to determine the numbers in your passcode.

Keep a List of Valuables

Be sure you know which items are in the hotel room safe. If you should need to file a police report, the list will come in handy.

Empty the Safe at the End of Your Stay

Just as you check the hotel room closet for items you may have left behind, be sure to open the in-room safe and make sure it is empty.

Alternatives to In-Room Safes

Place Items in the Front Desk Safe

If your hotel's liability limits are higher for the front desk safe than for your in-room safe, bring your valuables and travel documents to the front desk for storage. Or you may find tool box in the room to keep them in a safe place.

Keep Items in a Locked Suitcase

Another alternative to the in-room safe is your own suitcase. Bring a padlock that is not approved by the TSA, place your valuables in your suitcase and lock it up. If someone tries to steal your possessions, you will know, because the suitcase will be damaged.

Carry Your Valuables

Instead of placing cash and valuables in your hotel room safe, consider carrying them in a money belt or travel pouch that are similar to Carpenter tool belt You'll always know where they are, and pickpockets will have a hard time relieving you of your treasures.

Leave Irreplaceable Items at Home

Your best defense against theft is leaving as many items as possible at home. Expensive jewelry and extra cash won't make or break your vacation. Bring costume jewelry instead, get cash from ATMs when you need it, and relax knowing that your valuables are secure.

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