This is super nerdy, but I’ve always loved door locks. I installed hundreds of them when I was in industrial maintenance, and I even considered starting a side hustle as a locksmith (I still do sometimes). And, as someone who’s been around a lot of locks, I got pretty good at figuring out how to defeat them.
The truth is that many doors are very easy to pick, or actually slip, with a credit card. And while lock picking is a badass skill that could save a life (I used it as a police officer several times—legally, mind you), it’s also helpful to know if the locks around your house are too easy to pick. This guide on how to pick a lock with a credit card will explain all that and more.
The Truth: Some Locks Can’t Be Picked with a Credit Card
It’s important to note that some locks simply cannot be picked with a credit card. For instance, if you’re how to find out how to pick a deadbolt lock with a credit card, you’re barking up the wrong tree. You’ll have to learn to pick the tumbler (or just find your key) because you can’t slip the deadbolt. Anyone who says you can slip a deadbolt lock (experts on Reddit and Quora, I’m talking to you), is full of shit. It’s just not going to happen with deadbolts due to their design.
A deadbolt has, as the name would suggest, a solid bolt that slides into a recess in the jamb. It requires the turn of a key to deploy and retract it, and it doesn’t have a spring inside to defeat. It also sits far too deeply in the jamb to get a credit card around, which is another reason why they’re so difficult to defeat.
Also, if you need to break into your own car, you’ll need to use different methods. Not a single technique I explain here will work for geared locks in cars. You should probably just call a lock-picking service, tow service, or police department to get you into your car. They have every tool necessary to get into the car without damaging anything.
Also, locks with a “deadlatch,” which is a secondary latch that rides alongside the primary latch, or springlatch, can be tricky to slip—though not impossible. These are common for entry doors’ security locks, but if they aren’t installed correctly, they can be slipped with some lock-picking knowledge, and I’ll explain how.
Ideally, the lock you need to slip is an interior lock with a single, standard latch. But even if your lock does have a deadlatch, you might be able to get around it. Here’s how to do it.
How To Pick a Door Lock with a Credit Card
The following steps will outline the process for picking a lock with a credit card. While I’m pretty fast at this now, it did take me a while in the beginning to get the hang of lock-picking with a card. Here’s how it’s done.
Step 1: Pick a Card
You’re going to want to use a decent quality card, but maybe not one you’re going to use at the gas station. This process can damage, bend, chip, or rip a credit card, so a rewards card that’s easier to replace would be a better choice. I’d recommend your old Blockbuster card or a wholesale club membership card, not actual credit cards (put your Black Card away) or insurance cards. Old gift cards are excellent, as well—any flexible, thick plastic card can help do the trick.
Step 2: Bend the Corner
Bend one corner of the credit card in slightly, so it has a bit of a curl. This will allow the credit card to slide between the door jamb and the door more easily, rather than just butting up into the jamb and breaking.
Step 3: Slide the Card Between the Jamb and the Door
Starting above the door lock, slide the corner of the card between the jamb and door. This may take some wiggling and back-and-forth motion to get the card through the lock but stay with it until that curved corner of the card clears the turn and ends up between the door and the jamb.
Step 4: Slide the Card Downward
The next step is sliding the card downward so it’s in line with the door latch and lock. This can be difficult if there is a lot of friction on the card, so take your time as you shimmy it down the jamb. Wiggle the door in and out slightly, as well. If the card comes out, just start over. The lock is in line with the door when it’s directly in the middle of the door handles, in most cases.
Step 5: Push the Card Against the Latch
With the card inline with the door latch, apply inward pressure to the card so it slides in between the latch and the latch plate. In many cases, the card will glide right through the door and jamb and out the other side, unlocking the door.
Step 6: Shimmy the Door Back and Forth
If the card didn’t just slide through the lock, you may need to wiggle the door back and forth while applying pressure. A bit of rough play can create a little bit of heat and allow the card to glide in further, or create just enough of a gap to allow a hard push on the card.
Step 7: Unlock the Door
With enough pressure on your card, you should be able to unlock the door lock. This can be a challenge, but don’t get frustrated. Few people get lucky when they first start picking locks, so it may take a bit of time.
Once the door opens and you gain access, make sure to reach in and unlock the door before celebrating your victory.
What To Do If the Door Lock Has a Deadlatch
A deadlatch can prevent you from being able to insert a card through the latch and strike plate, but you won’t know it’s there until you try. If your credit or membership cards are coming out of the vertical crack between the door and the jamb with small tears or a misshapen edge, chances are that there is a deadlatch with this knob.
A deadlatch is designed to prevent the latch from retracting. When the door is closed, the springlatch drops into the hole in the strike plate, but the deadlatch does not (or shouldn’t). It’s spring-loaded and meant to register against the strike plate, preventing the latch from extending all the way. The mechanism is the latch then prevents the latch from being pushed in until the deadlatch is fully extended.
But there is a potential solution. On some doors (those with a lot of wiggle room and gap between the door and door frame), the deadlatch can be coaxed into the latch’s hole. To make this happen, simply pull hard on the door knob so that the latch can drop into the hole. You may or may not be able to hear it.
Once the deadlatch drops in the latch hole, use the same method as above as it’s business as usual. Slip the card between the door and the door frame, and push it through until the leading edge makes it to the other side and you get the door open.
Why You Should Check Your Locks
If this method of pulling on the door allows you to defeat your lock, your lock is too easy to get into, and someone can easily enter your house. You can fix this by adjusting the strike plate or door stops, preventing the deadlatch from entering into the hole so easily.
What Can You Use If You Don’t Have a Card?
What if your wallet is on the other side of that locked door? Or you just don’t have a credit card on you? Is there anything else you can do besides using a credit card to open a door lock? Of course, but it might take some outside-the-box thinking.
A Plastic Bottle
You can slip a springlatch with a plastic bottle, though you’re definitely going to lose your deposit. Start by cutting off the top and bottom of the water bottle so you’re left with a plastic tube of sorts. Lay that tube down and fold it as flat as possible. This should provide a sufficient edge to slip between the door and the strike plate.
If you have any thick clear plastic packaging, you might be able to use it to gain access. If possible, cut a clean strip of it and fold it in half (the plastic has to be at least 2 inches long). As long as there isn’t a deadlatch, this makeshift thick plastic card should work to get the door unlocked.
Disclaimer: You might cut yourself so I don’t suggest this method. Use it at your own risk.
A knife might be able to allow access to the other side of the door, but only if you know how to use it.
The strip of wood that the door closes against is called a door stop. If you use your knife to pry the door stop away from the jamb slightly, you can poke the lock’s latch inward and open the door.
Picking a Lock with a Credit Card FAQs
How do you pop a door lock with a credit card?
To pick a lock with a credit card, simply wiggle the card between the door and the frame, position it in front of the doorknob, and push inward. This should push the metal latch into the door knob and unlock the door.
What is the easiest way to pick a lock?
The easiest way to pick a lock is not to pick it at all, but slip it using a credit card. This method requires slipping a thin, sturdy piece of plastic into the gap between the door and the strike plate and pushing the spring latch into the door. But, you can buy lock-picking sets online legally, and they come with the majority of the tools an amateur locksmith would need. Happy picking!
Can you open a deadbolt with a credit card?
No, you can’t open a deadbolt lock with a credit card. These locks don’t have a slanted latch like standard knob locks, so they require either drilling their tumblers out or using lock picking skills, a tension wrench, and bump keys to push all the pins into the shear line, effectively picking the lock. But, lock picking is a bit of an art, and it takes time to master picking with a bump key. But even if you’re a pro, a deadbolt lock on its own cannot be defeated with a credit card, and you’ll need a bump key and tensioning wrench.
Does the credit card trick work?
In many cases, the credit card trick to open a lock with a credit card does work really well for opening a locked doorknob—it’s not just a movie trick meant for Jason Bourne or James Bond. However, if the lock has a deadlatch, it can be a little harder to get into.