5 Best Fireproof Safes for Cash & Passports (2020)

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Quick Answer: Value for Money
Rosie and I chose the Sentry Safe CFW20201 for storing our own cash and passports. It’s much more affordable than many competitors and independently verified as being able to withstand a 1700 degree Fahrenheit fire for 1 hour.

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The best fireproof safes for cash and passports are:

  • Honeywell Safes 1104 – best quality
  • Sentry Safe CFW20201 – best value for money
  • Sentry Safe 1200
  • First Alert 2037F File Chest
  • Sentry Safe CHW30220

Quick Answer: Best Quality.
If quality is your major concern, I recommend the Honeywell 1104. It’s larger and sturdier than the competition and has the highest independent fire resistance rating from UL. It’ll also hold A4 documents for you.

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Best Fireproof Safes for Cash and Passports

1. Honeywell Safes 1104 Cash Box (1 Hour Fire Proof) – Best Quality

Quick Review: A very high quality fireproof cash safe that you can carry and fit under your bed. Best for quality.


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Benefits:

  • 1-Hour Fire Proof Promise: The 1-hour fire proof rating is well above average for a fireproof cash box. This sits the Honeywell 1104 Cash Box well above competitors. The fire proof rating has been independently verified by UL.
  • Key Lock: Call me old fashioned, but I prefer a key lockable safe. I don’t want to have to rely on electronics (especially in a fire) to access my cash.
  • Portable: Comes with a carry handle for easy transportation.
  • Fits Under a Bed: It’s small enough to hide under your bed or in your closet.
  • High Heat Resistance: Resists fires up to 1700 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s HOT! 
  • Fits A4 Files: Comfortably fits A4 documents.
  • Also Waterproof: It has a 100 hour waterproof seal! Protect your cash and passports from both fires and flooding all in one.

Keep in Mind:

  • Weight: At 54 pounds, it’s heavier than competitors … but this is necessary to achieve the 1-hour fire proof rating.
  • The Cost: If you like Honeywell (a trusted brand) but want a cheaper and lighter option, they also have a 30-minute fireproof version of this safe. You can also check out the cheaper 30-minute option on Amazon.

2. Sentry Safe CFW20201 (1 Hour Fire Proof) – Best Value for Money

Quick Review: This is my pick for value for money. It’s surprisingly affordable and still has a high independent UL fireproof rating. However, it is smaller than the Honeywell 1104 above.


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Benefits:

  • Highest Fire Proof Rating: Has an independent UL fireproof rating of 1 hour at 1700 degrees Fahrenheit. This is
  • Affordable: A surprisingly good price point for a fireproof cash box that does not compromise in fireproof rating.
  • Portable with Carry Handle: I love that this comes with a carry handle.
  • Small and Discrete: I like that this one is smaller and more discrete than the Honeywell 1104. I store mine on my bookshelf behind some books and no one notices!
  • Waterproof: ETL verified for water submersion.
  • Key Lock: Comes with two keys. I like a key lock for a fireproof safe as I don’t want to rely on failing electronics.

Keep in Mind:

  • Smaller than the Honeywell 1104: You will not be able to fit A4 legal documents into this safe. It will fit cash and passports without any trouble.
  • Note Errors in Online Descriptions vs. The Box: Note that some online descriptions on Sentry Safe and Amazon state that this safe has a fireproof rating of 30 minutes at 1550 degrees. This is incorrect. When the product arrives, you will see the correct rating on the box: 1 hour at 1700 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Heavier than the Description Says: Some online descriptions have this clocking in at 10 pounds. When it arrives, you’ll find that it’s much more than 10 pounds in weight.

3. Sentry Safe 1200

Quick Review: The Sentry Safe 1200 is slightly smaller than the CFW20201 above. It also has a lower fireproof rating. However, it is also more affordable.


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Benefits:

  • Affordable: The Sentry Safe 1200 is more affordable than the above Sentry Safe CFW20201. However, note that it’s a little smaller and has a lower fireproof rating.
  • Independent Fireproof rating: The independent certifier (UL) has certified this safe as having a 30 minute, 1550 degree Fahrenheit fireproof rating. This is a lower rating than #1 and #2 on this list, but may still be acceptable to you.
  • Key Lock: Comes with two keys. I like a key lock for a fireproof safe as I don’t want to rely on failing electronics.
  • Smaller than the CFW20201: It’s smaller than the CFW20201 (above), but still fits cash, passports and USB drives.

Keep in Mind:

  • Not Waterproof: Unlike the CFW20201, it’s not waterproof. Store it high up, such as on a shelf.
  • Lower Fireproof Rating than the CFW20201: This product is cheaper than the CFW20201 (#2 on this list), but it also has a lower fireproof rating – 30 minutes at 1550 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. First Alert 2037F File Chest

Quick Review: This is a good large fireproof safe for storing cash, passports, USB drives and even documents. However, it is heavy and not easily portable.


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Benefits:

  • Large: It’s very spacious and will fit your money and passports with ease. You could also fit A4 documents, but very tightly (see comments below).
  • Independent Fireproof Rating: The UL fireproof rating is 30 minutes at 1550 degrees Fahrenheit. This isn’t as good as the Honeywell 1104, which is this safe’s direct competitor.
  • Waterproof: It is a waterproof safe, but beware that moisture can still build up within a safe due to internal air condensation. The instructions read that you need to air it out once every 2 weeks to prevent moisture build-up. This is really a rule of thumb for all waterproof safes, so this isn’t a ‘con’ of this one alone. My personal solution is to store each item in a freezer grade zip lock bag to prevent long-term condensation damage.
  • Really Nice Latch: The clamp-style latch feels really sturdy.
  • Could fit A4 Documents – but only just: It fits A4 documents, but only just – I would probably go with the Honeywell if I wanted a document safe.
  • Key Lock: Comes with two keys. I like a key lock for a fireproof safe as I don’t want to rely on failing electronics.

Keep in Mind:

  • Not Portable: At a very heavy weight and without a carry handle, don’t get this one if you want to carry it around. This is the sort of safe you place somewhere and leave!
  • Doesn’t Come with Document Separators: While the Amazon images from the seller have document separators inside the sample safe, note that these document separators are not included in the purchase.

5. Sentry Safe CHW30220

Quick Review: The Sentry Safe CHW30220 has a decent fireproof rating but does not have a handle. It will do the trick, but I prefer the Sentry Safe CFW20201 (#2 on this list).


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Benefits:

  • Independent Fireproof Rating: The UL fireproof rating is 30 minutes at 1550 degrees Fahrenheit. This isn’t as good as the Honeywell 1104, which is this safe’s direct competitor.
  • Fits A4 Files: Fits A4 documents, but snugly.
  • Document Holder: I really like that it has a document holder to secure down your documents, passports, social security cards, etc.
  • Key Lock: Comes with two keys. I like a key lock for a fireproof safe as I don’t want to rely on failing electronics.
  • Waterproof: ETL certified for 72 hours of submersion.

Keep in Mind:

  • No Handle: It really bugs me that this one doesn’t have a handle. That’s one reason why I’d get the CFW20201 version over this one.
  • Consider the Sentry Safe CFW20201 Instead: The CFW20201 has a better fireproof rating and a handle. It’s a little smaller than this one (and doesn’t hold A4 files), but is more affordable and better quality in my view.

What to Look for in a Fireproof Cash Box Safe

Independent Fireproof Rating

The most important consideration for a fireproof safe is that it has been independently verified.

The independent company UL (see: UL.com) verifies how fireproof a safe truly is. They provide two levels of fireproof verification:

  • 1 hour 1700 degree Fahrenheit Rating: #1 and #2 on this list have this higher certification.
  • 30 minute 1550 degree Fahrenheit Rating: #3, #4, and #5 have this lower certification.

Have a think about how high a fireproof certification you need. If you only need the lower certification, then you could get away with a more affordable safe such as the low-cost Sentry Safe 1200.

Waterproof Rating

Most fireproof safes also have a waterproof rating as well. It makes sense to ensure your safe is also waterproof. If there’s a fire, there is a good chance the safe will get wet when the fire is being put out by firefighters. You’ll also be able to protect your belongings from flooding that may occur in your home.

Also keep in mind that your insurer may require that your passport and cash be kept in a fireproof + waterproof safe, so getting this dual functionality is a smart move.

Note: All waterproof and fireproof safes have a common flaw: moisture. While they can keep out external moisture out, they cannot control the moisture in the air that is already in the safe. Fireproof safes are notorious for their build-up of condensation. Make sure you place everything in a freezer grade zip lock bag before storing it in the safe.

Portability

Keep in mind whether you would like the opportunity to pick up your safe and run out the door with it (if you have time) during a fire. If you’re leaning toward getting a portable safe, aim for:

  • Lighter weight: All fireproof safes are heavy, but smaller safes will be lighter (see #2, #3 and #5 on this list).
  • Carry Handle: A safe with a handle will be much easier to carry out the door.

Locking Mechanism

I prefer a key lock mechanism over an electronic code. If electronics fail, you want to be able to access your belongings. (To that end, you may notice most electric safe locks also have a back-up key mechanism).

Most fireproof safes, including all five on this list of the best fireproof cash safes, use a key lock mechanism. It withstands fire and water damage far more effectively than an electronic keypad (although not perfectly).

User Recommendations

Beware of Moisture: Zip Lock Everything Before Placing it in the Safe

Unfortunately all fireproof and waterproof safes struggle with internal moisture issues. Air contains moisture. The air in your safe may cause condensation and mold to build up inside the safe.

To address this problem, make sure you place everything in a tightly sealed freezer grade zip lock bag to protect your cash, passport and other belongings from water damage that occurs inside the safe.

Store the Spare Key Off Site

You’ll get two keys with your safe. While one key should be kept on your own key ring, the spare should be kept offsite. Thieves will search for the spare key!

Keep the Safe Somewhere Discrete

Fireproof safes are great for protecting your belongings from fires. However, a determined thief will still be able to hack his way into your safe. If they know how to pick a lock or are determined enough to pry the safe open, they’ll get in eventually.

So, ensure you hide the safe well and avoid obvious locations to help ensure your belongings are well protected.

Final Thoughts

A fireproof safe is a necessary item for protecting your belongings from the impact of fires. You may also be required by your insurance plan to have a fireproof and waterproof safe for your cash, passports and other valuable belongings.

Once you have got your fireproof safe, make sure to keep in mind other preventative measures. You should have a solid fire safety plan, smoke detectors (check out our review of the smoke detector we bought) and fire extinguishers in the kitchen and garage (check out our review of the fire extinguishers we bought). You could also consider a fire safety blanket and if you are on a 2nd or 3rd Story building, a fire escape ladder.

I hope this review of the best fireproof safes for cash and passports has been useful. Good luck on your search for a safe!

Stay safe.

– Chris and Rosie.