Tired of lugging around a wallet and cell phone? Take heart: new apps and organizational tools can help ease your load. With a few safety precautions, it’s easier than ever to just grab one device and go.
Mobile Wallets, A Growing Trend
Mobile wallets are relatively new and let users consolidate multiple cards, including credit cards and loyalty programs, into one mobile-payment app on your smartphone. Though no single app is supported across all mobile platforms or accepted by all retailers, the trend is growing fast: one study by Berg Insight estimates that mobile wallets will grow from today’s 7.5 million users to 29 million in five years.
At its most basic, a mobile wallet replaces the bulky one you carry around. Just download a mobile-wallet app to your smartphone and use it to photograph your cards and receipts. The next time you make a credit-card purchase, simply flash the app.
Mobile Wallet Apps, Some Options
The best mobile wallets store all your information and organize it by category (credit cards, receipts, memberships, etc.), then encrypt and password-protect the contents. Many can suggest stores or restaurants near you, makeshopping recommendations based on past purchases or give you rewards for frequent use. They all offer hands-free payment where accepted, including Starbucks, Target and The Home Depot.
Among the largest mobile wallets on the market are Apple Passbook for iPhone and Google Wallet for Android. PayPal is pushing a wallet of its own and works with iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices. Programs such LifeLock Wallet App and Square work on a variety of smartphones, offer more benefits and are increasingly accepted by retailers. Unfortunately, mobile wallets aren’t accepted everywhere, so you’ll still have to carry a credit card. But they can replace items like a driver’s license or photo ID (though this varies by state), even at airport security, as long as your photo and ID number are clearly visible.
Remember, there’s always risk associated with your personal information, whether it’s in a physical wallet or a digital one. Keep your phone charged: when the power goes, so does your ability to access your wallet. Your phone should also be password-protected and backed up to safeguard your info should the device be lost or stolen. The last thing you need is your ID in the wrong hands.
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By Laura Heller