How to Turn Your Phone into Your Wallet

By Nicholas Pell

You might not be in the same league as Seinfeld’s George Costanza when his wallet was so packed that it gave him back problems, but if you’re like a lot of people, your wallet just has too much stuff in it. So much stuff, in fact, that you’re not even sure where some cards are when you need them. Fortunately, your smartphone is increasingly becoming a replacement for the traditional wallet—especially with Apple’s introduction of Apple Pay in its updated operating system. So how can you ditch your wallet in favor of mobile payments?

Pay at Point of Sale

The marketplace offers an increasing number of solutions for paying with your smartphone in stores. Softcard is a digital wallet app partnered with American Express, Chase and Wells Fargo utilizing near-field technology for point-of-sale payments. Where these cards are accepted, you simply open the app and hold it close to the terminal at checkout. Google Wallet is another popular option that works the same way, although it also can replace your loyalty and membership cards.

Get the Discount Price Without the Card

As stated above, Google Wallet is one option for keeping your membership and loyalty cards somewhere other than your wallet. Another is Key Ring Reward Cards, which allows you to scan your phone at the point of sale for membership and loyalty program discounts. No typing by hand, either: Just take a picture of your rewards card, and your phone will save it.

Your Wallet is Not a Vault

For people keeping sensitive personal information in their wallet: Burn it and start using LastPass, which will not only help you to manage your passwords but also will keep track of all those private notes (say, bank account numbers) that are gold to thieves who might swipe your wallet.

Business Cards

Do you have a bunch of business cards taking up space in your wallet? Consider replacing that with CamCard, an app that allows you to take a picture of a business card and save it on your smartphone rather than having to carry a physical card around. You don’t even need to input the information -- the app does that for you -- and makes your business card files easier to find than if you just kept them in your camera roll.

Always Get a Receipt

Of course, the distinguishing feature of the “Costanza Wallet” is a copious cache of receipts. Instead, use OneReceipt to keep track of them. Just take a picture on your smartphone and keep all your receipts, both paper and digital, organized.

Tickets, Please!

Ever head out for the night only to find out that you left your concert or movie tickets at home? Don’t worry about that anymore. Use Apple’s Passbook to track your plane tickets, concert tickets and basically any other kind of ticket. It will also help you to keep track of your rewards cards.

Get a Wallet Case

There are some things you’re always going to have to carry, such as your ID. But you can buy a case for your phone that allows you to keep your ID and other essentials right with your phone. This will help you to fill in the gaps on whatever your smartphone can’t do.

Nicholas Pell  is a freelance writer based in Hollywood, CA. He writes about music, personal finance and technology for publications such as LA Weekly, Salon and Business Insider. He’s been online since the days of Usenet groups and bulletin board systems.


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