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Are Single-Use Login Codes Better than Passwords?

With so many passwords to keep track of, it's no wonder that many businesses are turning to single-use codes as an alternative.
Updated December 8, 2022

We've all been there before. You're trying to log into your email account, and you can't seem to remember your password. So you reset it... and then promptly forget what the new one is. Sound familiar? If you're like most people, chances are good that you've had this experience more than once. A recent study found that the average person has 70 to 80 passwords - and trouble remembering the login information for all of them.

With so many passwords to keep track of, it's no wonder that many businesses are turning to single-use codes as an alternative. Single-use codes are temporary login codes that are valid for only one session. Once you've used them, they expire and can't be used again. So, are single-use codes really better than passwords? Let's take a look at the pros and cons:

Pros of Single-Use Codes

1. They're more secure.

Single-use passcodes are the way to go if you want to keep your stuff safe. Since they can only be used once, it's way harder for someone to steal them and use them to get into your account or do something shady. Plus, they expire pretty quickly, so even if someone does get their hands on one, it won't do them much good. So if you want to keep your stuff secure, stick with single-use passcodes.

2. They're easier to manage.

With a single-use code, you don't have to worry about trying to remember a complex password. All you need to do is check your email or text message for the code, and then you can log in. Let's be honest, we pretty much always have our phones with us. If we don't, we're still logging into a website on a laptop that we'll have email access to.

3. They can be turned off and on.

Another advantage of single-use codes is that they can be turned off and on. If it makes sense during a certain period for you to enable single-use codes, you can do so. For example, if you're going to be traveling and won't have easy access to your email, you can turn off single-use codes and rely on your password.

Cons of Single-Use Codes

1. They're not foolproof.

Although single-use codes are more secure than passwords, they're not perfect. If someone has access to your email or text messages, they can theoretically log in to your account by getting the code. This is commonly referred to as social engineering, and it's a real threat.

Social engineering is a technique used by hackers to obtain passwords or other sensitive information by posing as a legitimate person or company. For example, a hacker might call you and pretend to be from your bank, asking for your login information. Or, they might send you an email that looks like it's from a trusted source, but is actually a phishing scam.

Additionally, these hackers can pretend to be you and call companies on your half and pretend to have forgotten something such as a login code in order to gain access to accounts.

2. They can be inconvenient.

Single-use passcodes can be somewhat inconvenient. Since they can only be used once, you have to get a new one each time you need to log in or do something that requires a passcode. And if you're not near a phone or computer when you need the code, you're out of luck. Plus, they only last for a short time, so you have to be quick about entering them or they'll expire. It can be a hassle, but some people still prefer them because they're more secure than regular passwords

3. They're not always available.

Not all websites or apps offer single-use codes as an option. So, if you're using a service that doesn't have this feature, you're stuck with a password.


Single-use passcodes may be a bit inconvenient at times, but they offer a higher level of security than traditional passwords. The added protection they provide is worth the occasional inconvenience, especially when you consider the risks of having your accounts or personal information compromised. So if you want to keep your online accounts and personal information safe, it's definitely worth considering switching to single-use passcodes.

At the end of the day, it's up to you to decide whether single-use codes or passwords are right for you. If security is your top priority, single-use codes are the way to go. But if you value convenience over all else, a password might be the better choice.

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Written by Justin Gluska
Justin is the founder of Gold Penguin, a business technology blog that helps people start, grow, and scale their business using AI. The world is changing and he believes it's best to make use of the new technology that is starting to change the world. If it can help you make more money or save you time, he'll write about it!
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