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What to Keep or Not to Keep in Your Wallet

December 09, 2015
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Here at Quotacy we’re all about making it easier for you to buy life insurance. Along the way we also like sharing health and money tips. Today we’re focusing on the wallet.

A wallet is very handy. It keeps important items you may need while out and about together all in one spot. Unfortunately, some of these items are also very helpful to people who would like to steal your money and your identity. Let’s go over what items you should and shouldn’t keep in your wallet.

5 Things You Should Have in Your Wallet

1. Driver’s License/ID

Have you ever been checking out at a store and they ask for your ID? This is obviously required if purchasing something you need to be of a certain age to buy, like alcohol or cigarettes, but many store owners also require their employees to check that the shopper’s ID matches the name on their credit card to mitigate risk of stolen card usage.

If you get pulled over by a police officer, you know they are going to ask for your driver’s license. If you do not have your license on you, not only are you going to get a ticket for whatever you were pulled over for, but you will also be fined for not having your driver’s license in your possession.

Most states give you a certain amount of days to prove to the court that you do in fact have a valid driver’s license and will then drop the charges, but you may have to pay a court fee. Save yourself time and money by always carrying your license.

If you happen to lose your wallet, hopefully a Good Samaritan finds it. They can use your ID card to return your wallet to you.

2. Credit Card

If you have more than one credit card, pick the one with the best interest rate or rewards and keep it in your wallet. If you always pay off your balance each month and get great rewards, use this for as many of your purchases as possible. If you do tend to carry a balance, use the one with the lowest rate and try to use it as little as possible.

3. Debit Card

Just last month I was at a gas station and the pump was having issues reading my credit card so I hit cancel on the pump and tried again. At that point, my credit card company was alerted thinking something fishy was going on with my card so they shut it off. It was handy that I also had my debit card with me or else I wouldn’t have been able to get gas (or make it home!) until I contacted my credit card company to clear up the issue.

If you don’t use a credit card for most purchases, then keeping your debit card with you is essential unless you use cash for everything. However, keeping large amounts of cash on you is risky.

If your wallet gets stolen, your credit and debit card companies can be notified to help ensure you don’t lose money. Cash, however, will most likely be the first thing to go and you can’t get that back.

4. ICE Card

ICE is an acronym for In Case of Emergency.

An ICE card is something you should keep in your wallet to help medical responders in an emergency. The ICE card provides them with your contact information, your emergency contact’s information, your blood type, and if you have any allergies, chronic conditions, or medications. Download and print your own ICE card at the American Red Cross.

5. Reward/Membership Cards

My boyfriend and I went to Costco a few weekends ago and forgot our membership card. What a bummer and time-waster to have to go all the way back home for it. He used to just keep it on his nightstand along with a bunch of other random items and grab it when needed since we don’t venture there too often. He now always keeps it in his wallet.

It’s not a risk to keep rewards and membership cards in your wallet because it would be near impossible to steal your identity or money with them. If a thief wants to go spend money at Petco and use my rewards card to get me more points, by all means, go for it! Getting replacement rewards cards isn’t too difficult and, in the meantime, most stores can look up your details with your name and phone number so you won’t even lose potential points.

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5 Things You Should Not Have in Your Wallet

1. Social Security Card

Your Social Security card is the absolute worst thing you can carry with you in your wallet. All sorts of damage can happen if this gets into the wrong hands. Thieves can open up credit card accounts, obtain loans, steal your tax return, and all sorts of devious things in your name which can have devastating long-term effects.

Check to be sure any other card you have in your wallet doesn’t show your Social Security number either, like a Medicare card. If your SSN is compromised, it’s a long and arduous process getting everything secure once again. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to learn more.

2. PIN and Passwords

Can never remember your debit card PIN? How about the code to your house or garage? Even if you have trouble remembering these numbers, don’t store them in your wallet.

Same goes for your passwords. Not sure how many passwords you will need while out and about, but still don’t write passwords to your online accounts on paper and then store them in your wallet.

If you are concerned about having to remember passwords, sign up for a program that stores all your passwords for you. One such program is LastPass. Websites like these have programs that encrypt all your online account passwords and will autofill your login information when you use the sites you’ve linked to the program. The only password you’ll ever have to remember is the one to log onto the program website. Pretty nifty.

3. Spare House Key

You’re not fooling anyone by putting your spare house key underneath that potted plant at the front door, so instead you keep it safe and sound in your wallet… wrong again! If your wallet goes missing, your address (driver’s license) and spare key inside are an invitation for thieves.

If you’re prone to accidentally locking yourself out of the house, try a spot where no one would think to look (or want to spend the time hunting down.)

Do you have vinyl siding? See if there is a slot you can hide a key in. Have a garden? Put your spare key in a zip lock bag and bury it beneath the dirt. Just avoid keeping it in your wallet, under the potted plant, in the mailbox, or under the welcome mat.

4. Blank Checks

Checks are used less and less these days, but sometimes they can be handy. I, personally, only ever use my checkbook to write out a rent check to my landlord. I was given free checks when I opened a bank account more than five years ago and I have never needed to ordered more. That’s how little I use checks.

The problem with checks is that it is very easy for someone else to forge your name and cash them. Your name, address, bank account and routing numbers are all listed on your checks. Some online companies allow purchasing to be done with only that information. If someone got a hold of your checkbook and starting buying stuff online, it would be difficult to prove it was not you doing so.

5. Multiple Credit Cards

Many people have lost a credit card or two. Remember what a nuisance it is to cancel it, get a new one, and then try and remember all your accounts that are associated with that card so you can update them? Imagine if you lost your wallet and you carried multiple credit cards. It’s going to take a lot of time, effort, controlled breathing, and patience to remember which cards were all in the wallet and then go through the process of canceling them all.

If possible, just carry one credit card and one debit card in your wallet. Leave the rest safely secured at home.


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