By the end of the year, you’re going to be carrying some brand new tech in your wallet. That is, if you aren’t already doing so. The major credit card companies have all moved to chip-and-PIN cards, which use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to prevent fraudulent transactions and keep your data safe. Unfortunately, the cutting edge technology that makes your transactions more secure at the register also decreases your security everywhere else. That’s because scammers can steal radio signals from the air and use your credit card information and then go on a shopping spree before you know anything’s wrong.
When RFID passports were released in the UK, scammers had broken into them within 48 hours. That’s enough to scare even the most tech-ignorant among us.
To combat this vulnerability, you need a wallet that can protect your identity by blocking those radio signals, which many new wallets can do by simply adding a layer of metal that goes entirely around your wallet. So many new wallets can protect you from scammers that you might find the choices overwhelming, particularly if you’re the kind of guy who uses a velcro trifold style wallet. We’ll walk you through your choices and pick the best one for each category, based on style, security, and price, because there’s no point in buying a wallet so expensive you have nothing to put in it.
Here are our top choices for three very different kinds of wallets:
by Herrington ($49.95)
If you don’t carry much cash or the idea of sitting on metal plates bound in leather sounds uncomfortable, you might be in line for a front pocket wallet. Back pocket wallets have been linked to sciatica and other forms of chronic back pain, so carrying a few cards in your front pocket may be the best long-term choice you can make for both your financial and physical health.
Herrington’s front pocket wallet is curved to fit into the front pocket of your pants without bouncing around or disrupting the lines of your outfit. The handsome Bison leather is masculine and stylish, so you won’t be embarrassed to pull it out at a business lunch or on a date.
The wallet is manufactured in Maine out of multiple layers of material that create a Faraday cage for preventing radio signals from escaping and therefore allowing skimmers to get at your cards.
The Ridge Wallet ($45-$115)
If you want something even slimmer, you may be interested in one of the all-metal wallets that have taken over Kickstarter in the last few years. These wallets wrap your cards in layers of metal held together with a nylon band or screws and look like incredibly modern, wallet-sized Swiss Army knives. Some even have fold-out extensions to hold keys, USB drives or very small pens!
Our choice among the modern, minimalist, metal wallets opts for simplicity. The Ridge Wallet doesn’t have key rings or add-ons, just a simple wallet with a clean look. Ridge offers four different materials ranging from the youthful and inexpensive polycarbonate, which comes in a variety of bright hues, all the way to pricey and indestructible titanium in various shades ranging from gray to black. If you want a wallet sleek and cool enough for Batman, but you don’t want to carry an entire utility belt, you want a black titanium Ridge Wallet.
It’s tough to argue with the classic bifold. With ample room for cards and cash, a classic design certain to fit any outfit, and all the features you’ve always enjoyed, a leather bifold wallet is a traditional men’s accessory that never goes out of style.
Fossil offers a selection of RFID-blocking wallets that don’t look too technical or modern, with the Derrick bifold at the top of the list for its combination of looks, materials, and price. The RFID-blocking material is sewn into the lining, so you won’t feel like you’re sitting on a phone book, but you’ll still be protected. The Derrick bifold is the kind of wallet you can buy now and not think about for a few decades, which tends to be the way most men buy wallets.
If you’re looking for a budget option, or a stopgap security solution while you shop, you can always keeps your cards in an Altoids tin. The thick metal is an effective Faraday cage that offers top-flight security at a price that can’t be beat. Just don’t be surprised if people are quick to comment how fresh your cards smell!
In the end, you’re going to have to decide what matters to you. Unlike other fashion items, you’ll carry your wallet every day, and you probably don’t want to replace it very often. It’s up to you to weigh fashion, security and comfort and come to a decision for your own peace of mind. The only thing you need to make sure of is that you don’t leave your financial information available for motivated scammers to steal.
Please note: Destinations Credit Union is planning to convert to the “Chip” cards in early 2016.
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