How To Replace Your Wallet With Your Phone

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How To Replace Your Wallet With Your Phone

If you like your wallet, by all means, hold onto it. But if you’d like to travel lighter and worry about one less thing to remember, you can replace most of your wallet’s functionality with your phone. Here’s how to switch over everything except your cash, and maybe one card.

Image via visualpun.ch.

There are already great, convenient things your phone can do to stand in for your wallet, but the future looks even better. Near Field Communication technology (NFC), built into at least one Android phone and more to come, will eventually allow your phone to handle wallet replacement even better. In the meantime, you can consolidate your membership cards, hold sensitive scraps of paper, carry photos of your loves ones, and even make money change hands, all from your phone. Here’s how to slim down or entirely cast off your back-pocket leather shackles.

Discount, Club and Membership Cards

We like Key Ring for this job (available for Android, iOS and WP7). Scan in your cards’ barcodes, or type in the barcode number if the card is too weathered. Key Ring lists and quick-sorts your cards, which show up in a big way on your screen. You can also see coupons and discounts found for the store you’re pulling up from another tab.

You might be put off by the idea of showing your phone to a clerk, or scanning it yourself. Having tried it a few times, in both (relatively old-school) Buffalo, New York, and (definitely more wired) Austin, Texas, it’s not as awkward as you might think — or at least just as awkward as fumbling in your wallet and trying to forcibly pry a card from a snug pocket. The key is having your rewards screen pulled up before you’re at the front of a line, just as you should do with a physical card.

Install Key Ring [Android, iTunes, Windows Phone 7]

Your Sensitive Data

A wallet isn’t all that bad a place to keep some sensitive data — just ask security expert Bruce Schneier. If you’re stashing PINs or other means of getting at your sensitive stuff, consider switching over to using secure apps on your phone instead.[imgclear]

LastPassSecure Notes featurenumerous mobile appsLastPass mobile site

Wallet for Androidoriginal postWallet

Photos

Photo by Bryan Gosline.

Money

Phones can’t dispense physical cash, so you’ll still need that, plus at least one credit card. But if you’re cool with a binder clip or something simple for carrying cash, you can still use your phone to pay your friends, perhaps for dinner tabs or wagers about, say, living without a wallet.

PayPal’s mobile app

Receipts

iPhone users have QuickPic as a mobile scanning solution. Still many users, on nearly any mobile OS, can turn to the ubiquitous capture application Evernote, you can use to grab pics of your receipts and sync them to a folder on your desktop or Evernote’s website. It can even use Onscreen Character Recognition (OCR) technology to make text within the receipt searchable. Handy.

Business Cards

Bump

No two wallets are packed with the same needs. Tell us how you’ve made your phone into your wallet, or why you can’t leave your wallet behind, in the comments.

Comments

  • “plus at least one credit card”

    Why would you even need to own more than one credit card?

    The most frequent tasks my wallet performs are handling physical money and touching my Myki on and off. Given the underwhelming technological capabilities of Melbourne’s public transport, and my tendency to shop and eat at cash only businesses, I don’t foresee me replacing my wallet any time soon.

    • In the 1990s, Visa and Mastercard weren’t universally accepted, especially overseas, so having both was good for that. And I like to have two when travelling, just in case one doesn’t function (for whatever reason).

      • Hi mark,

        There may be options for Nokia, but I had a N97 and it is flawed to be polite. I should have done more research into the phone before I got it as I had more trust in Nokia then I should have. When I tested a phone, it worked quite well in store but they all do as long as you don’t have apps or emails or large amount of contacts.

        As for doing the above on a Nokia, the following works but is more time consuming then above.

        “Discount, Club and Membership Cards” – Can be done as stored images. Works but not as nice.

        “Your Sensitive Data” – probably a expensive app.

        “Photos” – yes but crappy built in viewer (Nokia have an experimental app that is much better.

        “Receipts” – photo again.

        “Business Cards” – Bluetooth

        Ps. Now have a HTC Legend and had everything that the N97 had on it in hours, rather then the days I took setting the N97 up just right to work within it’s limitations.

  • Key Ring and similar apps seem all to be US-based, which means Australian retailers are not listed. Without this, they become little more than single-purpose personal databases.

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