How to Use a Credit Card to Unlock a Door

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Everyone has been locked out of a home, apartment, or room where they really needed to be. Sometimes, there's someone who can bring you a set of keys or open the door for you on the other side. But there are also those tricky situations when there aren't any options but to pop the door open with a credit card.

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This handy trick works best for lockset doors where there's a gap large enough to fit a credit card through — but how exactly do you do it? Here's what to know.

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How a Lockset Works

Opening a door with a credit card works only on a lockset because it has a curved latch bolt — the part that slides into and out of the door edge. The trick is to wedge the credit card in between the door and the jamb and along the curved edge of the bolt, pushing the bolt back into the door. Therefore, the trick works only on the side of the door with access to the curved side of the bolt; the other side of bolt is not curved so you can't slide the credit card along its end.

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This credit card trick also works only when you're on the side of the door without the door stop. Since the stop is usually on the outside of the door, this trick typically works only on doors that open out, unlike most bathroom and bedroom doors and most house entry doors.

How to Unlock a Door With a Credit Card

Pick a card that you don't mind losing in case it bends or is damaged in any other way. Here's how to unlock a door with a credit card:

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  1. Slide the card into the gap between the door and the jamb.
  2. Keep sliding it in until it touches the bolt of the lock.
  3. While you slide the card in, jiggle the door handle so that it goes down a little as you keep putting pressure against the barrel with the card.
  4. Bend the backside card toward the jamb so the front side (inside the crack) applies inward pressure on the bolt.
  5. Jostle the door and continue applying pressure with the credit card until the bolt is free of the latch plate and the door opens.

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With enough pressure, the door should open when the knob moves a little and there starts to be more space for the card to go through.

When to Avoid the Card Method

Though unlocking a door with a credit card works on lockset doors, it does not work on deadbolted doors. A deadbolt has a bolt with a square end — no curve. Also, deadbolts are not spring-loaded, like most lockset bolts, and they can be moved only with a key or the lock's thumbturn. Credit cards also do not unlock electronic locksets that have entry pads that can only unlock themselves with a key or specific passcode.

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