A man tucking a wallet into his back pocket

7 Things You Should Never Carry In Your Wallet (and 3 Things You Should Start Carrying)

No one plans to lose their wallets — but it happens anyway. One study suggests that ⅔ of people have either lost their wallet or had their wallet stolen . Even if you’re careful and keep a minimal supply of everyday carry items , there’s still a chance that you could leave your house with a wallet and come home without one.

If you do lose your wallet, there are steps you can take to minimize the impact on your life. You can call your bank, for example, and put a hold on your credit cards. But these efforts take time. Many people spend an entire day — or more — undoing the damage caused by losing their wallets. If you lose certain items — like cash — you may never be able to get them back. And losing personal information can have long-lasting consequences.

Thinking about these situations can be uncomfortable. But it’s also important. You wear a seatbelt in the car just in case there’s a car accident. You have insurance on your home just in case there’s a fire. And you should take precautions with your wallet as well, just in case something goes wrong.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at seven things you should not carry in your wallet — and three things you should start carrying. 

7 Things You Should Never Carry in Your Wallet

Wallets are designed to carry what you need to get through the day. But that doesn’t mean that you should include everything in your wallet. Here are seven items you should think twice about before putting in your wallet. 

1. Your Social Security Card

Your social security number is incredibly personal, and it’s not something you want falling into the wrong hands.

It’s also not something you need to carry around.

Keep your social security card locked in a fire-safe box at home unless you need it for something specific. And if you’re going to memorize anything as an adult, memorize your social security number. This will limit the number of times you need to bring the card out, which reduces the odds of your identity being stolen. 

2. Your Birth Certificate

Your birth certificate is another great thing to keep in a locked fire-safe box at home. The only time to take it out is if you’re filling out official paperwork and need multiple forms of identification. The rest of the time, keep it locked away so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. 

3. Password Cheat Sheets

Keeping a list of your usernames and passwords is a recipe for disaster. Keeping things like your credit card PIN in your wallet is basically the same as not having a PIN at all. Other usernames and passwords — to your email, for example, or workplace portal — give potential thieves ammo they can use to access your accounts. 

Infographic displaying key password security stats

If you have a hard time memorizing passwords, consider a password management tool like LastPass that saves that information for you. Then, you only have to memorize one username and password to access all of your accounts. 

4. Too Much Cash

It’s a good idea to keep some cash on hand for emergencies. But if you keep too much cash on hand, losing your wallet becomes an emergency.

As a good rule of thumb, don’t keep any more cash on hand than you’d be willing to spend for an evening of entertainment. This amount, of course, will vary based on your socioeconomic status. But if you keep that idea in mind, losing your wallet is no worse on you, financially, than an impromptu dinner date. 

5. Too Many Gift Cards

If you’ve recently received a bunch of gift cards from a holiday or birthday, it’s tempting to stuff all of them into your wallet until you get a chance to use them. But this can be a mistake.

Remember that gift cards have real cash value attached to them. And unlike debit or credit cards, there’s no recourse for getting that money back if you lose your wallet.

Instead of carrying all of your gift cards, keep them in a safe spot at home. Before you leave for the day, consider where you’re going, and only grab gift cards that you’re likely to use.

6. Multiple Credit and Debit Cards

There are reasons for having multiple credit cards and debit cards. You might have a special credit card that you only use at a specific department store, for example. Or you might have a debit card for your joint checking account with your spouse as well as for your individual checking account.

But just because you have multiple cards doesn’t mean you need to carry all of them daily. Plan each day, and only grab the specific cards you need based on where you’re going. Having fewer cards means:

  • Thieves can make fewer purchases on your dime

  • There are fewer cards you have to cancel with your bank if your wallet goes missing

  • If your wallet goes missing, you have backup cards at home you can rely on until replacement cards arrive in the mail

7. Your House Key

Even if you’re careful about what you keep on hand, your wallet likely contains personal information. Public real estate records mean that, just by having access to your license, a wallet thief might be able to figure out where you live. And that means that keeping a spare house key in your wallet is a bad idea. 

PRO TIP: Instead of putting your spare key in your wallet, keep it on a keychain and attach it to your belt. 

3 Things You Should Start Carrying in Your Wallet

There are many things you shouldn’t carry in your wallet. But there are also certain things you should carry in your wallet that you might not be prioritizing. Here are three interesting things you should keep in your wallet to improve your safety and security. 

1. Some Cash

These days, you don’t need cash for most purchases. About 42% of adults don’t bother to carry cash on them on a regular basis. These results vary based on age as well. 71% of people aged 50 and older carry cash, while only 45% of people aged 18-49 bother with cash. 

Infographic showing the demographics of people who carry cash

But while it’s great not to rely on cash, there are several important reasons to carry some cash on you. These include:

  • Tolls: Most tolls don’t accept credit cards. While you may not take a toll road daily, keeping cash on hand means that if you need toll money on a specific day, you won’t have to remember to stop for cash before you go. 

  • Tow Trucks: Imagine if your car breaks down and you need to call for a tow truck, for example. Some states require tow trucks to accept credit cards, but many do not, and some towing businesses operate on a cash-only model. 

  • Tips: You never know when you might need five dollars for a tip. Keeping some cash broken down into small bills ensures you can stick money in tip jars when you need to or want to.

  • Donations: Imagine someone comes around the office asking for donations to a specific cause. Having cash on hand empowers you to decide whether to donate to the cause or not. 

  • Emergencies: In an emergency situation, you may not have time to stop at an ATM, and you may need to rely on people who can only work with cash. 

  • Frozen Cards: Occasionally, your bank may see activity on your card that they think is suspicious. You might forget to tell them that you’re traveling out of the state, for example, or might make a larger purchase than usual. When banks see suspicious activities, one of their first steps may be freezing credit and debit card use until they speak to you on the phone. The worst time to realize that’s happened is when you’re trying to check out with a card. Carrying some cash can save you embarrassment and allow you to make your purchase, giving you the time you need to contact your bank and unfreeze your cards. 

In addition to these great reasons for carrying cash, there’s a security reason for doing so. Research shows that people are more likely to return a lost wallet when it has cash inside. 

Interestingly, the odds that your wallet will be returned go up if you carry a lot of cash versus just a little. But we still don’t recommend carrying more cash than you need for emergencies. Your odds of having your wallet returned may go up, but your risk if the wallet doesn’t get returned is a lot bigger, too. 

2. An RFID-Blocking Card

Hackers can skim information from your cards in a matter of seconds. RFID-blocking cards, like the wallet gauntlet, block these malicious attempts by jamming scanners or scrambling information. 

I tested this RFID blocking card during my first purchase once I received it. It really works! And now I feel so protected, where I did not previously! Thank you, Popov!

Meleny P. ★★★★★ Verified Reviewer

The great thing about RFID-blocking cards is that they can be moved from wallet to wallet. If you like to change your wallet or bag out depending on the day, RFID-blocking cards are an easy solution. 

3. Photos of Your Loved Ones

Cell phones make it easy to snap photos of your kids or spouse and keep hundreds at your fingertips. But a well-stocked photo reel shouldn’t prevent you from including wallet-sized photos of your loved ones as one of your top EDC items.

Keeping photos on hand isn’t just for nostalgia reasons. It’s also an important security measure.

Just by having a picture of your kids in your wallet, you increase the odds that your wallet will be returned to you if you lose it. Research shows that 88% of wallets are returned if they include a baby photo.

If there’s an emergency and a loved one goes missing, it’s also good to have a physical photo that you can hand to emergency responders for identification purposes. 

Your EDC Items Should Focus on Convenience and Safety

One of the goals with everyday carry (EDC) items is to make life more convenient. But another goal of an EDC mindset is to keep yourself and your family safe. Knowing what to carry in your wallet — and, more importantly, what not to carry — provides insurance against losing your wallet or having it stolen. By being intentional about what you carry, you also simplify the recovery process if your wallet does go missing. 

Article by Ryan Popoff

Ryan Popoff is the creative mind behind Popov Leather wallets, iPhone cases, belts, watch bands and journals since 2013. With a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts, my leatherworking journey began at home. I wanted to create a simple leather wallet that could fit into my front pocket and — to my delight — it was a hit with family and friends. Hopefully you love our honest, quality leather goods too! Reach out with questions.

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