Do you use an RFID-blocking wallet for travel?

My parents leave this week for an international work trip. My mom is actually going to be gone for a month, visiting RFID blocking wallettwo very different continents. While helping her with preparations this past weekend, she asked me if she needed an RFID-blocking wallet. “What are they? Is there any point?” she asked me.

I didn’t really have an answer for her. I don’t have an RFID-blocking wallet, but I also don’t have any RFID-enabled credit cards. She had no idea if any of her cards have RFID technology, so her thoughts are to go ahead and get a RFID-blocking wallet as it’s better to be safe than sorry.

For those who are unfamiliar with the technology, here is a quick explanation from Slate:

The concern is that some credit cards, passports, and driver’s licenses now come with embedded radio frequency identification chips. When activated by an RFID reader, these chips transmit certain types of information wirelessly, so that you can verify your identity or even make a purchase without swiping your card. The downside: Anyone with an RFID reader can activate those chips and pick up whatever information they’re designed to transmit.

Before this weekend, I didn’t know if my cards were RFID-enabled. A quick call to Chase confirmed that they are not. Some things I’ve read said RFID-blocking wallets are not necessary, while others have said they can be useful. I’m not an expert on this, but from what I gather it seems like if you don’t have an RFID credit card, you don’t need a wallet that blocks it.  So readers, I’m turning to you.

Do you use an RFID-blocking wallet? Why or why not? 

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  1. I didn’t have to travel to far from home this week. Drove from Seattle to Bellevue (20 mins) and had my Citibank credit card information stolen from a wallet that never left my pocket. It all happened at Bellevue Square. Within 2 hours $1700 in charges at Macy’s, Armani, Express, etc. I just ordered the RFID wallets from Amazon yesterday.

  2. I have one too, especially for my passport, but our smart and fine guys from TSA make me take it out all the time from the wallet. Great practice, just because they are to stupid how to fold it to put the ID page under the UV light.

  3. Have you tried to read anything over rfid/nfc?

    In the UK you can’t read your passport data unless you have some information from the photo page – date of birth and passport number if I recall correctly. Otherwise anything transmitted is encrypted

    With cards, yes it’s possible to read the card number and expiry date, but that’s only enough to use a card online. If that happens you’ll always get your money back.

    I guess the biggest issue is the inconvenience of waiting for a card if it does get used online..

  4. I bought into the whole wallet thing and recently got into a heated discussion with a family member who is knowledgeable on the subject. Most cards are now chip and signature and in the EU they are chip and pin. The RFID wallet is a waste unless you happen to have old radio frequency cards in your wallet. Chip technology does not transmit radio waves. I have 14 credit cards and none are the old tech.

    Don’t waste your money.

  5. I would not leave home without it. Friend had credit card info stolen from a wallet that never left his pocket in FRA. Don’t take a chance.

  6. Citibank cards are typically not RFID. There is a separate RFID card sticker that comes with the card but the MasterCard or Visa card itself isn’t RFID.

  7. I live in Canada, so all of my cards have RFID, so I have been using a RFID blocking wallet for awhile now. I looked long and hard for a ladies wallet that was fashionable but not hundreds of dollars and landed on I’ve been using the Ostrich Print Clutch for almost a year now and love it.

  8. I put my passport into a radio-shielded cover, although there isn’t that much information in your passport to compromise yourself to identify theft (no SSN or address).

    The real money pit is the passport cover itself. There’s no proof it blocks any passport chip reader, so you’re just buying a passport cover with a sheet of metal in it. But I believe in putting a cover on my passport in the first place, so an extra sheet of metal is an acceptable gimmick.

    If you’re really worried about theft through RFID, consider shielding your car fob, so it won’t get copied and a thief driving off with your car.

  9. I have a RFID sleeve for each of my cards (a few are doubled up) and they fit in my regular wallet. They weren’t too expensive (purchased at REI) and I didn’t have to change my wallet.

  10. According to a UK watch dog there are now over 84 million contactless cards in the UK as of Feb 2016, and growing fast. I work in the London underground were you can imagine the constant people coming and going and the crime opportunities that are available every day to pick pockets. Unfortunately now though with so many contactless cards in circulation, card skimming and identity theft are only going to rise. A criminal only has to walk past you and brush against your bag to steal your data, how easy is that to do on a busy tube station and you would never know it had happened, at least not for 48 hours. I feel that this has paved the way for more easier pickings for the thieves who we try to guard against and the banks know it and are playing it down. An RFID blocking wallet protects your contactless debit and credit cards from being scanned or cloned by criminals.

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