How to Hack a Vending Machine: 9 Tricks to Getting Free Drinks, Snacks, & Money

A vending machine is an invaluable, yet totally frustrating piece of equipment. It's a godsend whenever your tummy's growling or you need an ice-cold drink on a hot summer day. But when something gets stuck inside or the machine flat out malfunctions, it quickly becomes your archenemy. And when you're broke, it's basically just one big tease.

So I get why so many people are interesting in hacking soda and snack vending machines. While it could be considered stealing, hacking a vending machine feels more like retribution, punishing it for all those times it did you wrong. But how does one actually hack a vending machine?

There are many different brands and types of vending machines (coin-op, credit/debit card, contactless (RFID, NFC), etc.), so there's no Konami code that will work on all of them, and hitting or kicking it will only get you so far. You could use a drill and screw, but only if you want to get caught.

Below are some hacks that may work for you. Some look like legit ways to break into a Coke or candy machine, while others may be too good to be true. It's up to you to decide. (Report back with your success or fail stories.)

1. The Code for Free Nesquik Drinks

If you're by a coin-operated Nesquik vending machine, next time you need a cool, refreshing chocolate milk, try using this code for a free drink: 44455544455. The numbers correspond to the 4th and 5th drink option button. After inputting them, just select your drink. More info here. (Code 137137137 might also work on older models with keypads.)

2. The Take-Your-Cash-Back Trick

For the thief on the go, all you need is some paper money and packing tape. Just like the old coin-and-string trick (which has been shown time and time again not to work), you stick the tape at one end of the bill and insert it into the machine. Once the machine has registered the dollar amount, use the famous pull-out method and you've got yourself a free drink! And if you're feeling especially sinister, forget the drinks and snacks—once the machine has registered a dollar amount, hit the change button. More info here.

3. Get Free Change Out of Soda Machines

If it's the dough you're looking for and you're near an older soda machine (Coca-Cola, in this case), look no further. Press the code 432112311, then hold down the change lever until you hear the sweet clinkity-clink of coin raining down. This method is perfect for laundry day when you're short a couple quarters. More info here.

4. Set Your Own Price (e.g. $0) For Pepsi

You know those newer Pepsi machines with the really big buttons? You might be able to get a free drink by using this trick. This will enable you to set the price for the drink, and zero seems as good a price as any, right? More info here. (Code 42313214321 might also work on other machines.)

5. Trick Conveyor Belt Coke Machines

Pepsi aren't for everybody, so if you're a Coke fan and come across the conveyor belt machines, this one is for you. Insert money and choose your drink, then stick your hand in the machine and push against the door to confuse it. Once it gives you your money back, keep repeating this process until you have all the drinks you want. More info here.

Image via foldingwishes

6. Trick Older Snack & Soda Machines

Just like the in the Coke machine hack above, this one requires you to push up on the door (or gate) at the bottom to make it think it didn't dispense anything even though it really did. After a short wait, you can select another item or get a refund with the coin return mechanism. We tried this and it didn't work, so your mileage may very. More info here.

7. Trick Gumball Machines into Taking Pennies

While originally inspired for vending gumball machines in the UK, this one can potentially work anywhere, but you'll also need a bit of luck (and probably an older vending machine). The concept is simple, take a small coin, then wrap layers of foil over it to make it seem like a bigger and more valuable coin. More info here. (It can also work with electrical tape, as seen below.)

8. Use Fake Paper Coins

Much like the tinfoil/tape process, you can trick a candy machine with a paper or cardboard coin, but realistically, you'll need a fairly old vending machine for this to have a shot (if even then... we're a little suspicious). You can also try this with parking meters as well, but again, most coin mechanisms are too smart for this, but you never know. More info here.

9. Have Some Pure Luck

Some older vending machines have a glitch (which is probably well fixed by now) that will return a ripped dollar bill to you while still giving you credit for it. If only this could work with a cut credit card and a store card reader. :/

Did Any of Them Work for You?

While some of these could really work with the right machine, we have our doubts about others. What about you... which ones are real and fake? If you tried any, let us know if you succeeded or not in the comments below (don't forget... if there's no video, then it didn't happen).

Cover image via Lissandra Melo/Shutterstock

10 Comments

Great article! Probably the most needed life hack article for the struggling college student.

Sad thing: They apparently don't work in Germany...

Darn.

Will this work with those that have buttons under the drink display and they never show you the dispension process? Cause i wanna hack a singapore drink vending machine.

Haha I'm from Singapore toooo

Will these work in the UK?

Do you need exactly a packing tape for pull-out method? Or does any kind of tape work?

no just as long at the tape has excellent grip and also is clear.

Most of the code ones don't work. If you are in a very public space, like a vending location in a parking spot, then you have a good chance. If you are at school or at the library, then the owners might have blocked all the hacked codes. :(

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