In a digital age when everything from credit cards to passports are embedded with RFID (radio frequency identification) chips, the dangers of skimming and electronic pickpocketing are things to consider. While technology has made transactions easier with contactless payments, thieves have gained momentum in accessing personal information by scanning the chips where private data is stored. That’s why switching from a classic leather wallet or money clip to an RFID-blocking wallet is necessary today.
In theory, victims are generally oblivious to this kind of scam as they occur in a crowded area or simply in the range of a hacker. Not to panic, RFID-blocking wallets are designed with a layer of carbon fiber or aluminum to cancel out electromagnetic signals from picking up the data in RFID-based credit cards and ID cards.
Despite this, the effectiveness of RFID-blocking wallets is challenged by many, with some saying that the products themselves are a scam. In a 2021 article, NordVPN wrote that most studies “used to support [contactless crime] claims don’t make a compelling case for RFID blocking specifically.”
Spy spoke to Walt Augustinowicz, Founder and CEO of Identity Stronghold, the company that claims to have “created the RFID protection industry in 2005.” He said the best version of this everyday accessory must be inlaid with a certain interior to halt cyber crimes. “When it comes to wallets, a properly shielded wallet will be extremely effective at preventing card skimming,” Augustinowicz told SPY. “It’s not the thickness that matters. It’s the composition and arrangement of the materials that will determine effectiveness.” But how does one determine the best?
The Best RFID Wallets At a Glance
What The Expert Said
Augustinowicz noted that while the blocking action works on both inward and outbound signals, it’s primarily acting as a shield from incoming RFID carrier waves. He also said the effectiveness of RFID-blocking wallets has much to do with the type of cards inside and their individual frequencies. Time for a quick science lesson.
“All credit and debit cards along with most transit cards use an RFID chip that operates at 13.56 megahertz. When it comes to building access cards however, there are two primary frequencies. There is an older style RFID chip that operates at 125 kilohertz (Khz) and the new style chip that operates at 13.56 megahertz (Mhz), the same as in the credit card chips. 125 kilohertz is a much lower frequency and RFID-blocking wallets generally cannot shield these older style cards,” Augustinowicz explained to Spy.
He added that “smart” 13.56 MHz cards process more intricate information and generally will be successfully blocked from inbound signals inside an RFID-blocking wallet. The “dumb” 125 kHz building access cards, however, typically will scan through one.
The Ridge Burnt Titanium Wallet
The Ridge Titanium Wallet is the ultimate RFID-blocking wallet for wireless theft. If not unconventional already with its pseudo-sandwich design, its sleek, utilitarian aesthetic is completed with a sand-blasted gradient that adds luster and intrigue — it’s a cool-looking wallet.
Aside from great form is the Ridge Titanium Wallet’s Inspector Gadget-like functionality. Adding to the utility of the top and bottom titanium plates are a steel money clip and an elastic cash strap to secure the cards. This RFID wallet holds up to 12 cards, is scratch-resistant, and comes with a lifetime warranty in the rare case that somebody decides to revert to their old receipt-hoarding ways.
Fossil RFID-Blocking Flip ID Wallet
Fossil blends clean sophistication and modern-day style for their men’s accessories. This speaks to their RFID-blocking wallet made with 100% cowhide leather and a special lining to curb unwarranted scanning. Other interior details include two ID windows, two slide pockets, and eight credit card slots.
Bellroy Flip Case Wallet
Dual magnetic trapdoors. Hardshell design. RFID-protection. Storage section for as many as eight cards. Yes, it’s safe to say Bellroy’s flip case wallet has a lot to offer. But most importantly, personal information and folded bills will be secured from potential thieves, near and far.
Read More: Bellroy Wallet Review: Gimmick or Great?
Anovus AirTag Wallet
Anovus AirTag Wallet is perfect for slim storage and quick card access. Made for Apple Airtag, there’s no need to worry about losing it. Not only does it have RFID-blocking technology to prevent your information from being compromised by electronic pickpockets, but it has enough capacity for your cards and cash.
ROYCE New York RFID Blocking Vaccine Card Travel Wallet
Royce New York offers a slim RFID-blocking wallet specifically designed for a post-pandemic era. They’re designed to be an all-purpose travel companion holding a vaccination card, passport, and payment. It’s a sign of hope ushering in a new excitement to travel without fear of ailment or getting ripped off.
Herschel Charlie Wallet
The Charlie Wallet from Herschel is compact and unobtrusive in a pocket. Constructed with a matte coating and recycled materials including two post-consumer water bottles, the RFID-blocking cardholder features multiple card slots and a storage sleeve. This is simplicity and minimalism at its finest for those who travel light. For those who keep every receipt in true Costanzian fashion, this won’t have enough space.
TRAVANDO RFID Blocking Slim Wallet
Travando wallets are one of a kind and carefully made with precision for long-lasting durability. This RFID-blocking wallet has a remarkable 11 card pockets, a stainless steel money clip, a classy metal emblem, and RFID protection. In other words, it serves the dual purpose of being stylish and functional.
Some reviews mention the wallet not blocking proximity (building access) cards. Based on Augustinowicz’s advice, those cards could have a lower-frequency chip.
Frequently Asked Questions About RFID-Blocking Wallets
Is using an RFID-blocking wallet necessary?
Yes. RFID vulnerability is a real thing that includes personal info from passports, enhanced IDs, global entry cards, and doorway entry card cloning, among other pieces of information.
What’s the easiest way to have your information stolen?
If you have an unshielded wallet in your back pocket in a crowd — you are a prime target.
What is the biggest misconception about RFID-blocking wallets?
The most common misconception is that all RFID-blocking wallets shield the same. Just because the label says RFID-blocking, you should not assume the wallet will protect to the same degree as another one.
Can you wrap your cards with aluminum foil to curb theft activity?
According to Identity Stronghold, covering your cards in aluminum foil is very effective in the prevention of skimming. That is, until the foil tears.
Are there products marketed as RFID-blocking that are a complete sham?