Living with credit

How to ditch your wallet without going mobile

Mike Cetera
How to ditch your wallet without going mobile

I hate wallets. They’re bulky and have just one job – holding stuff – so it’s easy for me to forget or misplace them.

Still, for close to 30 years, I carried a wallet every day. And then one day last year, I stopped.

Replacing my wallet is a sleeve on the back of my phone’s protective case big enough to hold three credit cards and my driver’s license. I’m far less likely to lose my phone than I am my wallet, so this is a win-win for me.

This was not how smartphones were supposed to replace the wallet.

Few consumers use mobile wallets

Mobile payments have failed to catch on, as few consumers have discovered a compelling-enough reason to set their physical credit cards aside when shopping. A 2018 survey by found, for example, that only 13 percent of smartphone users have ever used Apple Pay and just 3 percent said they used it during their most recent shopping trip.

Mike Cetera's card holder on his phone.

Mike Cetera’s card holder on his phone.

I’ve dabbled with mobile payments at checkout. It’s not for me.

One could argue I’m a techno fuddy-duddy, but a recent survey by dealspotr found that about two-thirds of young adults ages 18 to 34 prefer to pay with a debit or credit card at checkout. Less than 10 percent cite a mobile wallet as their payment method of choice.

And, until recently, neither credit card issuers nor the mobile wallets themselves offered much in the way of incentives to get people to pay with their smartphones. Some issuers have begun offering rewards for mobile payments. That’s still not enough of a carrot for me.

But using my phone as a card-transportation device, well that has appeal.

Lots of options for phone card holders

This solution may not work for everybody. My wife owns the same case as I do, but she still carries a purse. For her, the case works more as an organizer – no more digging in her bag for her wallet when she can just pluck the phone out and pull out a credit card.

As an added bonus, these cases are pretty tough. My wife last month dropped hers through the tiny space separating the jet bridge and the airplane she was about to board. The phone dropped more than a dozen feet to the ground and came to rest under the plane.

An airline employee generously agreed to retrieve the phone, which was undamaged and the credit cards intact.

You can spring for a case similar to the one I purchased for about $50. Or you can find a cheaper alternative in one of the dozens of different card holders that you can stick to your phone or your case.

For me, a card holder on my phone is just simpler. My phone is mobile, going with me everywhere, and this way my cards are always with me, too.

See related: Mobile payments at register climb, but slowly, Infographic: Who uses digital wallets, and for what

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