Are RFID-blocking wallets worth buying? What are they for? What if you decide not to purchase one? How can you stay protected against identity theft? We’ll address these and many other questions in this complete buyer’s guide on RFID wallets. We’ll look into different payment technologies, explain the basics, review publicly available statistics to back up our claims, and, of course, check out the TOP 7 Best RFID wallets that are all well worth an investment.
- EMV, RFID, NFC, what’s the difference?
- RFID, RFID scanners, RFID skimming explained
- RFID-blocking technology: what’s an RFID wallet and how it works
- Do you really need an RFID-blocking wallet?
- TOP 7 Best RFID Wallets
- Pros & Cons
- Tips: make your wallet rfid safe
Card Not Present fraud, which happens when a criminal obtains a credit card information and uses it online to make purchases, has soared over the recent years, with a 16% growth rate per year in the US, amounting to more than six billion dollars in losses, according to the recent report by US Payments Forum. Is there anything you can do to protect yourself from a credit card fraud and RFID skimming? Are RFID wallets worth a purchase or is it just another scaremongering marketing ploy? In this guide, we’ll answer these questions and help you find out ways to protect yourself.
First, it’s a good idea to get a grasp of certain basic credit card terminology before we proceed any further. You’ve probably heard about three main technologies used in modern credit cards, namely EMV, RFID, and NFC.
Speaking of EMV cards, these are smart or chip cards that store data on integrated circuits in addition to magnetic stripes. Using EMV, you no longer have to swipe your card but insert it directly into the reader. EMV cards can also incorporate contactless technology for the data to be read over a short distance using NFC, or near-field communication technology.
NFC is a combination of communication protocols that enable communication between two devices (one of which is usually a smartphone) with a distance range of 1.6 inches. NFC uses radio waves to transmit information, much like RFID, or radio frequency identification technology, which is a grandfather of NFC.
RFID is actually a generic term that is used to identify long-range communication that’s used in an array of circumstances and devices, including highway toll payment, employee identification badges in offices, airport baggage tracking, etc.
You’ve probably seen videos, where someone using a remote-looking device was able to obtain critical credit card information that they later supposedly used for illegal activities. Here’s one of those videos, dated as far back as 2008:
Criminals can, indeed, take advantage of RFID technology, and obtain information by scanning a card in close proximity to the victim using a wireless scanner. These RFID scanners are legal and can be purchased virtually anywhere. So a criminal doesn’t really have to be a technical genius to find ways to buy and use the device. Unfortunately, Android devices have built-in NFC readers that can also be used unlawfully. Using these available technologies and obtained information, the criminal can then use it online in Card Not Present fraud.
RFID skimming has a lot of advantages for the criminal: they don’t have to figure out how to hack databases, have substantial computer knowledge to obtain credit card information from e-commerce websites; profound technical expertise or be a part of a criminal team to hack ATMs. So, all they have to do is buy an RFID scanner and have a little bit of dexterity and aptness to fool a victim.
The common misconception with RFID skimming is that a criminal can only steal max amount that’s allowed with contactless purchases, also known as a floor limit, which varies between banks and countries (in the US there’s no limit or $100, in the UK it’s 30 pounds). However, as tests by consumer groups have shown, it is not so: testers were able to purchase a TV worth of 3,000 pounds by using stolen information.
Ten years ago, recognizing the aforementioned challenges, Augustinowicz, a businessman with a technology background, started a company called Identity Stronghold, which pioneered RFID-blocking technology and products intended to help consumers protect their vulnerable information. RFID-blocking technology works by stopping the wireless signal from being transmitted. There’s usually a protective sheath within the wallet (or bag, or even jeans) that automatically blocks the wireless signal.
First, look at your card. If it has a radio wave sign (has PayWave, PayPass, Blink), then bingo! Your card has a built-in RFID-chip.
However, as statistics show, there are not many RFID cards in the USA as of yet, but the numbers are going to be drastically increased by 2021, according to ABI research:
Courtesy of CreditCards.com
You might also hear or read statements like “there have not been any documented incidents involving RFID skimming” or similar arguments that advocate against using RFID wallets. But let’s look at some of the facts that these people usually use in their favor:
- In his interview to NPR, Roger Grimes, a computer security expert, says that out of a hundred millions of financial crimes, zero has been identified as an RFID crime.
Our counterargument: there are no statistics that measure the real scale of contactless theft. Besides, tracking RFID crime is nearly impossible: sometimes there’s no way to figure out how exactly the information was stolen
- By using RFID scanner, you’ll get a credit card number and an expiration date, these are useless when shopping online, since most of the websites would ask for more information like name and CVV code.
Our counterargument: and while to some extent the above-mentioned assumption is true, here’s a thing: you can, in fact, purchase anything online using a simple John Doe as a name. However, purchasing without CVV is a lot harder, yes. But according to the Guardian and a group of volunteers who actually tried it, it is not entirely impossible.
- Thieves don’t like to waste their time: they have to make sure there are a lot of people passing by, no cameras in the vicinity, and have to approach a person really closely. As opposed to online theft: some of the credit card information databases can be purchased illegally online for a few bucks.
Our counterargument: with contactless payment cards flooding the market, it’s best to be prepared. Online databases can be busted, false, or outdated, and RFID scanners are inexpensive and hassle-free to obtain.
Now, let’s look at our top picks for RFID wallets that would help you stay protected at all times. We’ve reviewed some major trusted brands, like Serman Brothers, ID Stronghold, and Tommy Hilfiger, as well recommended a few other options in case you’re looking for a wallet with specific functionality or feature, like a shoulder strap, or a magnetic closure. If you’re concerned about prices, then don’t you worry, even the best brands are affordable, and priced around 30 dollars or less. The front pocket wallets are even cheaper, sometimes only 10 bucks. So, this is a relatively small investment with great potential.
RFID Blocking Slim Bifold Genuine Leather Front Pocket Wallet | SERMAN BRANDS - men’s rfid wallet with money clip & id window & front pocket
Serman Brands is a company that’s originated in California when an American family decided to distribute executive style and quality products to a global table. The Serman Brands wallet we cover here is no exception: it’s of excellent quality and yet affordably priced.
This handsomely designed minimalist men’s wallet is available in eight colors to match your bag, coat, or briefcase. It’s super slim, stylish, and made of the finest full grain genuine leather. The wallet really looks both classy and cool and has a little bit of vintage feel to it. There’s a quick access ID window, money clip for cash, and a front pocket for the most used cards, so you don’t have to flip around searching for the one needed. The wallet holds up to 6 or 8 cards without getting bulky or inconvenient. And of course, since it’s made to out TOP list, it’s equipped with an advanced RFID SECURE Technology, which was specifically engineered to block 13.56 MHz or higher RFID signals and protect your valuable information that’s stored on RFID chips from unauthorized scans. It also protects against access by NFC-equipped Smartphones.
Besides, customers are genuinely pleased with the wallets they received, praising the highest quality of materials, durability, and functionality of the product, as well as its amazingly handsome look. Slim physical design and top-quality leather make this product stand out and occupy the first place in our TOP 7.
SERMAN BRANDS: Check the current price
Men's Genuine Leather Trifold Wallet with Full RFID Protection Throughout - Beautiful Soft Leather | ID Stronghold - men’s rfid wallet with id slot & billfold pocket
This is the wallet from the company we’ve talked about earlier in this guide, namely ID Stronghold, a pioneer in RFID security. Walt Augustinowicz, the founder of the company, has since appeared on major TV channels and been interviewed by many national print and online publications. Because his company with its research and consumer education has even appealed to the federal law enforcement agencies, we’ve made this wallet our second TOP pick.
This wallet is made of soft genuine leather, much like the previous version we’ve described above. The wallet can hold up to 7 cards and has an ID slot. There is also a divided billfold pocket, so you can separate dollar bill denominations. It’s quite spacious so you can remove the cards with ease. And of course, there’s an RFID blocking technology embedded within the wallet to protect your payment cards, driver’s license, and other RFID enabled items, transmitting at 13.56 Mhz and higher. Every single slot of this wallet is individually shielded, so your information is protected, no matter where you place your RFID cards. The seller claims that other wallets on the market don’t offer such intense security. Besides, if you’d like to give it out as a gift, the item comes in a special gift box ready to be given away.
ID Stronghold: Check the current price
Men's RFID Blocking Passcase Wallet | Tommy Hilfiger - rfid wallet tommy hilfiger
If you’re a Tommy Hilfiger fan, then you’d probably want to add this RFID wallet to your collection. The brand doesn’t really need any rambling introductions, so let’s just get right back at it. It’s 100 percent pure leather. It’s handcrafted, stylish, and available in an array of different color schemes. The RFID lining makes sure your data is insulated from electronic pickpocketing. The wallet takes up to 6 cards, has a place for an ID, and a billfold.
The customers loved the product, however, a few consumers were concerned if the leather was real.
Tommy Hilfiger: Check the current price
Multi-purpose Rfid Blocking Travel Passport Wallet | Zoppen - rfid wallet for ladies & rfid wallet for travel with passport pocket and phone pouch
Finally an option for the female demographic! Available in 33 colors, in case you don’t like pink, which is understandable. This one is cheaper and is not made of leather, in case that matters to you. It’s actually eco-friendly PU leather that’s up to the US and European standards. The wallet is quite roomy but has only three card slots. However, it has a passport pocket, boarding pass compartment, coupon ticket slot, one sim card pouch, even a cell phone pouch, which makes it ideal for traveling. There’s also a standard ID slot, one money & coins zippered pocket, as well as other “holders” for various necessities. This is a truly travel-smart wallet with built-in RFID technology to protect you from identity theft while you’re on the go.
The ladies who tested the wallet were pleased with how it looked and how it kept their things neat and tidy. Some customers said iPhone 6 fitted perfectly into its pouch and didn’t make the wallet bulky.
Zoppen: Check the current price
Front Pocket Leather Slim Wallet RFID Blocking | Travelambo - rfid front pocket for travel
This slim minimalist wallet targets both male and female demographics since it’s available in 36 colors including pink, red, yellow, etc. Besides, it’s much cheaper than the previous models we’ve covered primarily because well...it’s just a front pocket wallet, and not entirely a complete wallet. But in case you like to travel light, then this might be an ideal solution for you. It’s indeed super slim and minimalist, and extremely convenient to be carried around in your front or back pocket. It’s made of 100% genuine leather and has an embedded RFID-blocking technology. Despite such a small size it features 6 card slots, has an ID window, and a small compartment for money.
This option is extremely popular among consumers, who didn’t have much to complain about. So, if you don’t carry around a lot of cash or cards, then this option is a buy!
Travelambo: Check the current price
Front Pocket Wallet w/ RFID Blocking | kinzd - rfid front pocket wallet with magnetic money clip
This is another slim front pocket wallet that featured RFID blocking technology. It’s a little bit more pricey than the bestselling option we’ve covered above. It’s also made of 100% vegetable tanned genuine leather. There’s a magnetic money clip instead of a bill compartment. The wallet can hold up to 4 cards and one id. The magnetic fold can hold plenty of cash, according to the pictures shared by the seller. It’s quite handsome, available in different color aesthetics, however, I wouldn't say for sure that it’s suitable for ladies, since the colors available are mostly dark. There are also other buying options available including, as the seller calls it, vegan leather, and carbon fiber.
kinzd: Check the current price
Men's RFID Flip ID Bifold Wallet | Fossil - rfid wallet with two id windows
This men’s wallet from Fossil is made of 100% cowhide leather and has as many as 8 card slots. It’s just as stylish and looks vintage with a seller claiming its irregularly polished and tainted surface would look even better over time. There are many buying options available, including color schemes and versatile designs. It has one bill compartment, two id windows, and two slide pockets, making it quite spacious and rather distinct.
Customers were also pleased with the quality of the wallets they received, however, a few consumers were concerned with the embedded RFID technology. One of the customers said he was able to read his card’s data with a scanner through this wallet. And although this a stylish and handsome option, we cannot easily recommend it as the best RFID option on the market.
Fossil: Check the current price
Comparative chart of RFID Wallets
|Colors 8 |
|Colors 3 |
|Colors 20 |
|33 colors |
Boarding pass compartment
Sim card pouch
Money & coin zippered pocket
|36 colors |
|24 colors |
Magnetic money clip
|Colors 17 |
2 ID slots
2 slot pockets
- If you have an RFID chip (a radio wave sign) in your payment card, it’s better to be protected. The wallets we’ve covered will definitely keep your mind at peace.
- As more and more contactless cards appear in the US, the need to stay protected from identity theft exponentially increases
- Again, most of the US cards are now EMV, meaning they are chip-based cards that have to be inserted into the reader
- Hackers and criminals have cheaper and more efficient ways to get payment card and identity information by purchasing it online on Dark Web or hacking into websites if they’re computer knowledgeable. So even having RFID wallet will not necessarily save and protect you
- If you don’t want to invest in an RFID wallet, but is still concerned about identity theft, then wrap your wallet with aluminum foil, it will block the RFID scanner, but well...will definitely make you look a little weird. Otherwise, put a piece of foil inside the billfold slot, that should work too
- Or you can use a metal container for storing your cards, like a cigarette tin, it will protect your information from radio signals
What’s RFID wallet with a coin pocket can you recommend?
There was one RFID wallet for ladies that we’ve recommended here in our TOP 7 which, in fact, had a beautifully designed slim and discreet money and coin zippered pocket.
However, if you like to consider more options, these are our top picks: handmade Rustic Town velvety wallet with a classic coin pocket, or Flyen bifold wallet. In case you’re looking for a more portable and slimmer version, then perhaps you’d appreciate front pocket models from Kinzd or Protectif, both of which have zippered coin pockets.
What’s the best wallet for car keys?
Again, the ladies’ version of an RFID wallet we’ve featured earlier has a key holder. Also, we can recommend a zippered credit card wallet from Coiol which features a keychain to hold your car keys, it’s also available in several other colors, which would definitely appeal to a female.
What can you suggest with chain?
Juzar Tapal Collection offers an RFID blocking wallet with an 18-inch stainless steel chain.
Is there any RFID wallet with a phone charger?
Here’s an interesting option of a wallet with a power bank of 4000 mAh: Becobay Phone Charging Wallet
Can you recommend wallet with a zipper?
The best one we could find was from MaxGear, where the whole wallet is protected with a zipper, and not just one single compartment or pocket.
Is there any RFID with a shoulder strap?
Yes, there are. However, they are primarily made for women. Here’s one of the options: Yaluxe women’s wallet.
Is there an RFID wallet with a magnetic closure?
Here’s a practical thin option for men: Purfit Design wallet with money clip and secure closure.
And for women: Hasfine passport sleeve and credit card holder with magnetic closure.
Is there any RFID with a badge holder worth buying?
Our top suggestion is a badge holder with a zipper and credit card wallet from ELV
Can you recommend an RFID wallet with a checkbook?
Dante Women RFID blocking checkbook wallet is our top pick.
Investing in RFID-technology is not going to break your budget but would probably save you from identity and credit card theft. We think it’s best to buy such wallets now, rather than wish you would when it’s already too late.