Safety is a top priority for many Airbnb hosts – as it should be! A great lockbox can help you sleep peacefully, knowing your keys always make it into the right hands.
Sending your guest a code to grab their keys means they can do self check-in and you don’t have to be at the property. But with so many lockboxes on the market these days, how are you supposed to choose?
The best overall lockbox for Airbnb properties is the Smaid Key Lock Box because it is tamper-proof and weather-resistant. Plus, the combination can be changed between every guest. When choosing a box, consider its size, durability, and how much technology it relies on.
If you’re new to Airbnb’s self-check-in or just wanting to improve your security game, you’ll want to keep reading.
Although we recommend using a smartlock for your hosting endeavors, we realize that not all hosts want to get that fancy.
In this article, we’ll give you some more information on how lockboxes work, answer some frequently asked questions, and of course, tell you all about the top eight best lockboxes for Airbnb properties.
How Does a Lockbox Work?
A lockbox is exactly what it sounds like – a small, protected container used to store important items: usually keys.
You can think of them as little safes typically found on or near the doors of a property. The idea is that hosts can securely pass the keys to your home on to someone else without being there.
Before Airbnb gained traction, lockboxes were more commonly known in the real estate world. Agents regularly use them to allow potential buyers access to the home. This is a great alternative for people who’d prefer to walk through the listing alone instead of with a real estate agent.
Lockboxes can be opened in a few different ways. Older lockboxes simply rely on a key to provide access. We’ll go into more detail on why these aren’t the most optimal choice for your Airbnb in just a little bit. In short, these low-tech locks can just be more of a hassle than anything.
A popular lockbox entry method is the humble combination code. You can pass on a few digits to your guest to punch into the keypad or screen to unlock your box. Even these come in a few varieties. We’ll cover all of that shortly.
These days, digitized systems are all the rage. Lockbox technology is on the rise, so now you can find boxes that rely on smartphone apps or infrared sensors. Impressive. We know.
What Is Self Check-In?
You may be thinking, “Wait, slow down. Why should this be important to me?” And we’re glad you asked.
Well, Airbnb hosts, many guests prefer to check-in by themselves.
Especially after a long day of traveling or sightseeing, they just might not want to have another interaction. And you may not want to show your guest into the property late at night.
Having the option to self-check-in can even be a make or break factor in choosing a place to stay. We’re sure you’d warmly welcome them with open arms, but you see where they’re coming from, right?
Self-check-in lets guests access their room independently upon arrival. All they need is the key, and then they’re set. So, if you take yourself out of the equation, there has to be a way to safely provide your guests with the keys to your place.
Enter the lockbox.
Lockboxes are a secure, convenient way to give your guests access to your home. All you have to do is give your tenant the code, and then they’re set. Best of all, they’re Airbnb recommended, so you can feel good about it.
It’s also a good idea to provide a check-in guide filled with clear instructions on where they should do when they arrive, including where to go and how to unlock the box. We recommend making yourself available at check-in time in case your renter has any troubles.
What Makes a Lockbox Great?
Now you know why lockboxes are beneficial, but how can you pick one? There are lots of options out there, and we want you to find a system that works for you. Here are some of the factors to look for when you’re choosing a lockbox.
Number of Keys
Let’s start with the basics: how many different keys do you need to provide? If you just want to give your guests one, you can opt for a smaller sized lockbox.
However, it can be nice to leave a couple. Think of it like staying at a hotel: you always get a few room cards given to you. After all, just because your guests are staying together doesn’t mean they’ll always be together.
Another thing to consider is how many different locks you have. Is the front door different from the back door? Do you have a sauna that’s usually fastened shut? Or do you have a detached guest house that tenants have to pay more to access? If you answered “yes” to any of these, it’s best to purchase a bigger box that can easily hold more keys.
Level of Security
If your lockbox isn’t secure, it defeats the purpose of them entirely. When choosing one, look for a lockbox that is tamper-proof to secure your property and keys optimally. With these, you can also tell if they have been meddled with.
There is some level of risk with lockboxes regardless. After all, you are leaving keys to your home unsupervised. However, the harder a box is to break into, the more likely the thief will be caught.
You can also be sneaky and go for a lockbox that is easy to hide. We’ll give you more tips on where you should place your lockbox in just a moment, but camouflage is definitely a security hack you can take advantage of.
Just make sure you give your guests clear instructions on how to find your hidden box!
Type of Lock
Lockboxes that are opened with a key usually aren’t the most desirable models for Airbnbs.
The problem with this is that you have to pass the lockbox key along to your guest. If you’re already doing this, why not just give them the actual key to your property instead?
This style is outdated in the Airbnb world. Plus, we know you trust your guests, but it’s just another set of keys for them to possibly misplace – and no one wants that.
The most common locks among Airbnb hosts are manual combination ones – a timeless classic.
It’s easy to use locks like these, and most people have encountered them before (Remember high school? Your locker probably had one of these on it.), so the experience is familiar. The less confusion at check-in time, the better. Low-tech also means there are fewer possible glitches, and that’s always a pro.
Let’s split these combo locks into three main categories: dial, wheel, and push-button.
Dial locks have a spinning knob in the middle with numbers lining the rim. It seems straightforward – rotate the dial, stopping on all of the numbers in the code – but in terms of manual locks, these might just be the ones people struggle with most.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’ve landed on the exact number you’re aiming for. (They’re usually set up like a ruler with printed numbers increasing by 5s and mere ticks to represent the digits in between.)
Wheel and push-button locks are very similar. The first one has different wheels of numbers or letters to scroll through, each with a little window-box opening. Similarly, push-buttons work exactly how the name suggests: press down the numbered buttons in the order you are given.
However, a more technologically advanced model might make you feel a little better.
These can give you better control and comfort over who has access to your space. For example, Sentrilock lets you program the code yourself and change it with every new booking. This way, you can be sure that past guests can’t sneak into your place at a later date – though we’re hopeful that most wouldn’t anyway.
Others, like the iBox, allow guests to use an electronic key that the lockbox senses using infrared detection. These can even record the user’s data, so you know who is doing the unlocking and when.
We love that these advanced, digital models tend to be more secure, but the more technology you use, the more likely it is for something to malfunction.
If you decide to opt for one of these smartphone-linked models, we recommend letting guests know ahead of time so they can make sure they have their cell fully charged. Or, if they don’t have a compatible device, you might need to plan other arrangements.
Best Overall Lockbox: Smaid Key Lock Box
If you’re seeking the ideal lockbox that suits just about everyone’s needs, look no further. The Smaid Key Lock Box is a top-notch product in any weather.
It’s waterproof, rust-proof, and corrosion-resistant, but make sure you use the shutter door to ensure the integrity of the numbers on the wheels. Did we mention it’s so strong that most manual tools can’t even crack into this box?
You can also easily change the combination on this lockbox between guests to prevent anyone from trying to sneak in. There are over 10,000 codes possible! Just ensure you jot down your combo somewhere for safe-keeping, as there’s no way to get into your box if you forget it. Yes, it’s that safe.
Best Cold-Weather Lockbox: Kidde AccessPoint 001406 Box
Anyone who lives in an especially cold climate knows that “weather-proof” doesn’t always mean what it says. A lot of times, this phrase means it’s functional up until a certain temperature.
The last thing you need is a guest getting locked out because your box is frozen shut.
Happy customers have put the Kidde AccessPoint 001406 Box to the test, and it holds up even in -30°C (-22°F) winters. Northern Airbnb owners can breathe a sigh of relief.
Kiddie also guarantees this box is impervious to shock, humidity, UV rays, humidity, vibration, water, rust, and most household cleaners. Nothing will bring this box down!
Safest Lockbox: Iron Lock XXL Key Lockbox
Of course, safety is a top concern when you’re finding the perfect lockbox. That’s the whole point of getting a lockbox in the first place!
Our choice for the safest box is the Iron Lock XXL Key Lockbox. We love this product because you get the best of everything in terms of security: it’s easy to permanently install, weather-resistant, and tamper-proof. Not even hammers, drills, or saws stand a chance against this one.
This Iron Lockbox is big enough for you to store multiple keys – you can even put them on a keyring! While this might not sound like a huge accomplishment, some “large” boxes aren’t even that big at all, but that’s not the case with this one.
It’s easy to change the combination code between guests, which we highly recommend doing for optimal safety. You can sleep soundly knowing your keys are in the safest hands – well, box.
Best Small Lockbox: Champs Combination Realtor Lock
We’ve shown you some boxes that have quite a bit of storage, but what about one that’s a bit more discreet?
We love the Champs Combination Realtor Lock for a more compact box that still gets the job done. The box’s body is a mere 2in long, 1.2in wide, and 3.1in tall (5x3x8cm). Despite its size, this Champs lockbox can still hold three large keys. The metal is of high quality and crush-proof.
Don’t count this lockbox out just because it’s small! Like Shakespeare said, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”
Best Light-Up Lockbox: Master Lock 5425E Light Up Dial Key Box
When your guests have driven long hours to get to your homey stay and the only thing separating them from a comfy bed is this lock, you can bet that they won’t want to struggle with it in the dark.
If you frequently have guests checking in at night, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on a light-up box.
We recommend the Master Lock 5425E Light Up Dial Key Box for the most convenient self-check-in experience possible. Blue lights automatically illuminate the large wheels whenever the weather cover is open. This glow makes the numbers easily readable, even in darker conditions.
Best High-Tech Lockbox: Igloohome Smart Keybox 3
Smart lockboxes make rentals easier than ever, but you don’t just have to trust us. The Igloohome Smart Keybox 3 was designed for Airbnb hosts by Airbnb hosts.
You can remotely grant access to guests, generate combination codes, or send Bluetooth keys from anywhere – even offline. Choose how long these codes and keys are enabled: once? Forever? It’s totally up to you.
These systems also use encrypted technology for optimum security.
Don’t worry about trespassers using heat detection to figure out your code; you can enter any combination of eight random numbers before the real PIN. No one will ever know.
This box both relocks itself when it’s closed and when it’s unlocked but hasn’t been opened within 30 seconds. If you’re not into this, change the settings! You can customize your experience.
Remember how hosts designed this? Well, they even made it so that the Igloohome syncs to Airbnb calendars. PINs can be created and sent to your renters without any intervention by you. How could it be easier?
Best Splurge Lockbox: Lockly Keyless Entry Smart Door PGD 728F
If you want to go all out – and we mean all out – there’s only one option: the Lockly Keyless Entry Smart Door PGD 728F.
This product isn’t actually even a lockbox because it removes the need for one entirely. We’ve mentioned this in our guide to smart locks.
The Lockly device replaces the standard locks on your door. Instead, this Bluetooth enabled lock lets you unlock your home remotely at just the click of a button. If you’d rather be off the clock, guests can also enter a six to eight-digit code onto the touch-pad. The difference between this and any other smart lock is that the numbers shuffle across locations every time to prevent onlookers from stealing access.
After three consecutive incorrect guesses, the pad will be disabled until guests can correctly enter the code twice.
You can even store up to 99 different fingerprints that are only recognized through human touch, so your cleaning crew can have easy access on demand. Don’t worry; you can always track who comes and goes through the access log sent directly to your phone.
Need to go low-tech? Not a problem for Lockly! The device comes with two physical keys anytime you need a manual backup. If you want to splurge on a smart lock, this one is genius.
Best Budget Lockbox: Puroma Security Key Lockbox
The Puroma Security Key Lockbox is the budget buy that you’d never guess was a steal.
These waterproof boxes are made of durable zinc, so they stand up well in harsh weather. However, they’re also great for indoor use and super easy to install permanently.
If you have other keys you want to leave for your guests inside the safety of your home, this is a fantastic choice. Since they’re cheaper than competitors, you don’t have to break the bank if you’re just getting started and you want to buy a couple.
The Puroma box has a large interior space that can fit up to five keys – or even a credit card. You can set your own code on these wheel locks, so you never forget it.
Still, we recommend writing it down somewhere. These boxes are nearly impossible to break into if the combination slips your mind (but we consider this a plus).
Potential Drawbacks of Lockboxes for Airbnb Properties
Self-check-in is a great thing. This do-it-yourself structure allows guests to maintain their privacy while hosts get to do, well, anything they want. Sadly, it’s not perfect. Here are some possible drawbacks of using lockboxes on Airbnb properties.
Lockboxes Can Be Broken Into
Sadly, even the toughest lockboxes can usually be broken into. Videos are constantly circulating the internet on how to hack some of the most popular ones.
Before you purchase one, know that this is a risk.
However, your box doesn’t have to be totally indestructible to be secure. Let’s face it: it’d be pretty suspicious to see someone sawing or hammering away at a lockbox.
Assuming you have good neighbors that don’t resent your hosting, and your property isn’t in the middle of nowhere, you can usually get by with a quality lockbox.
Your Passcode Might Get Into the Wrong Hands
The vast majority of Airbnb guests are reliable, trustworthy, and honest people. We definitely believe this. Although, you might get the occasional bad apple.
If your lockbox’s passcode can’t be changed regularly, then this might be concerning. A past-guest might have the idea to swing by your place and try to steal a free night – or worse.
If you’re worried about this, check out how other hosts reviewed your guests before you accept their reservation request. It’s a small extra step that can make a big difference.
Malfunctions Can Occur
Picture this: your guests are checking in past midnight, and you’re getting sleepy. “It’ll be fine,” you think. “They’re self checking-in.” Maybe you shut your eyes for a quick snooze only to be awakened by missed calls and messages from your guests who just couldn’t get the combination to work.
It could be that the buttons on the keypad are stuck or they followed the instructions in reverse (happened to us).
Problems like these can absolutely occur when using a lockbox. After all, you are putting a lot of trust in this protective container, and the competency of your guests.
If you’re using a smart device, there are even more malfunctions just waiting to happen. Batteries can die, or apps can glitch.
To combat this, make sure you understand that it’s not a perfect system and that you might need to save the day with a spare key.
What Can I Put in My Lockbox?
What you can fit in your lockbox depends on how big your safe is.
With some smaller boxes, you can only fit a key or two – sometimes even a keyring is too large. On the other hand, there are some pretty spacious boxes out there. In these, you can fit objects like credit cards and similarly sized objects.
Always demonstrate caution when loading up your lockbox. Try not to leave anything too valuable or irreplaceable inside, just for the sake of security.
Where Should I Put My Lockbox?
Now that you have your lockbox picked out, you have to find a spot for it. In most cases, it’s best to put the safe somewhere visible and easily accessible. You don’t want to have your guests on their hands and knees just trying to get checked-in.
If you own your property, you can place your lockbox just about anywhere. Beside the door or near the mailbox are common spots for these devices. Hiding it on a gate or back door can be more discreet options.
Alternatively, if you’re renting out an apartment or condo, we suggest talking to your landlord to find an acceptable spot before you grab some screws and start drilling into anything.
Some people are into hidden-in-plain-sight style containers like fake rocks with holes in the bottom. While these camouflaged containers are endearing, we don’t feel good about recommending them to you. The security level just doesn’t meet our standards.
Can I Monitor My Lockbox?
Airbnb allows you to monitor your lockbox through a security camera so long as it doesn’t record specific private areas like bedrooms or bathrooms. If you’re just recording your lockbox, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, you must disclose any security cameras to your guests. If you inform them of these after they’ve booked, they have the right to cancel.
However, some Bluetooth-enabled lockboxes will create a log of who has accessed the box. Notifications can get sent straight to your smartphone and may be a more convenient way of keeping tabs on your lockbox.
Should I Be Using a Lockbox?
Still unsure if a lockbox is right for you? Reflect on these questions to figure out if these devices can benefit you:
- Do you want to offer self-check-in? In most cases the answer should be “Yes.” Allowing guests to check themselves in is a plus for many guests. If you’d like to provide this option, you’ll have to somehow get a key to them. Lockboxes are arguably the best and most effective way to do so. Airbnb promotes these on their website, and they are commonplace for tons of bookings these days.
- Are you okay knowing lockboxes might not always be secure? There is some degree of risk when it comes to leaving your keys unattended for a guest to pick up, but if you’ve ever hidden a secret spare set at your own home, you’ve already engaged in this “daring” activity. We like to believe that people are trustworthy, but you should definitely consider this.
- Are other alternatives calling your name more? Lockboxes aren’t the only way to run an Airbnb. If you’re uncomfortable with it, you can always meet your guests at the property. Just let them know this in the listing! You can also opt for a smart door lock like the one we mentioned above so you can remotely grant your guests access to your space.
There are tons of lockboxes on the market that range in size, lock-type, and technology level. The best overall box for Airbnb properties is the Smaid Key Lock Box, thanks to its incredible durability and unlimited combination changes.
Other models that are great for hosts include the highly secure Iron Lock XXL Key Lockbox and technologically advanced Igloohome Smart Keybox 3 that was actually designed by fellow Airbnb hosts.
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