Never Carry More Than Two Credit Cards In Your Wallet

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Nobody wants to think about their wallet being stolen—but if it is, you’ll want to give the potential thief as little as possible to steal.

At CNBC, former con artist Frank Abagnale (of Catch Me If You Can fame) explains that he only keeps two credit cards in his wallet: one personal credit card and one business credit card.

The fewer debit and credit cards you carry with you, the fewer you’ll have to freeze or cancel should your wallet disappear.

Abagnale doesn’t carry a debit card, since they don’t come with the same consumer protections as credit cards—and he advises all of us to leave our debit cards at home as well.

Every time you use a debit card, you put your money and your bank account at risk.

That said, debit cards provide some of the easiest ways to access cash, whether you’re visiting the ATM or making a purchase and asking for cash back at the register. While you could visit your bank branch and withdraw cash from your account that way, I’m sure I speak for many Lifehacker readers when I say that I haven’t been inside an actual bank in, like, years.

Abagnale does advise us to always have cash at hand, so you’ll need to figure out a way to keep a couple of $20s in your wallet. However, you can leave your checkbook at home (if you know you’re going to be writing a check that day, Abagnale suggests putting a single check in your wallet in advance).

The CNBC post lists everything Abagnale thinks you should (and shouldn’t) carry with you, so check it out. Essentially, Frank Abagnale is asking us to think like a con artist. If someone were to take your wallet—or even rifle through it while your attention is distracted—how much information would they be able to uncover? How many accounts and lines of credit would they be able to access?

Or, if you want the short and sweet advice: If we only carry a couple of credit cards around with us, we’ll only have to cancel a couple of cards if they get stolen.


Comments

    It's a good rule of thumb to have less credit cards in general. Obviously work and personal cards are an unavoidable duplication but having multiple personal cards means multiple payments per month. Consolidating debt into a single point is generally much cheaper and easier to manage. One $90 payment per month is better than two $60 payments for example.

    The only reason I would have two credit cards now is to have a high limit card (for emergencies and large expenses) that I'd keep locked in a safe and a small limit card for day to day use (internet bill, lunch etc).

    I'd also think a debit card was better in that you can control how much is on it so it's harder to steal a lot from it. Keep most of your money in account A (home offset account) with just a couple hundred in account B (the debit card). Only top the debit card up when you need it.

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