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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best RFID-blocking wallets

Last Updated May 2019

Anyone who has dealt with credit card fraud or theft knows what a hassle and financial liability it can be. If you have an RFID-enabled credit card or ID, an RFID-blocking wallet is the best option for securing your data and preventing would-be thieves from siphoning your credit card information.

An RFID-blocking wallet has metal strands woven into the fabric or leather that prevent radio waves from collecting data. Your risk depends on the type of credit card you have and how much exposure you (and your wallet) experience, but an RFID-blocking wallet is the best way to ensure that your information stays safe.

Most RFID-blocking wallets are inexpensive and available in a range of styles. It is a relatively small investment that can protect you from thousands of dollars of fraud and theft. To learn more about choosing a great RFID-blocking wallet, continue reading for more information and tips.

RFID readings can be done in seconds and are generally faster than EMV chip readings. This is one reason why protecting your RFID-enabled cards is so important.

What is RFID?

Some credit cards are capable of transferring information without contact using RFID, also known as radio-frequency identification.

Some credit cards use RFID tags, or “chips,” to quickly and wirelessly transmit data to make payments. The RFID tags in credit cards are passive tags; they hold no power themselves and must come within the electromagnetic field of an RFID reader to transmit data. This allows you to simply hold your card near a reader to complete a transaction.

Because credit cards use passive RFID, there is no way to “turn it off.” A thief could use their own RFID reader or even an app on their smartphone to collect your credit card information. All it would take is for them to get close enough to your card to get a reading — between 18 and 36 inches depending on the barriers between the reader and the tag. As you can imagine, it can be quite easy for a thief to discreetly collect this information, since contactless data transfer is a double-edged sword.

Credit cards aren’t the only items that have RFID tags. Since 2006, U.S. passports have been equipped with RFID chips to make it more difficult for criminals to create false documents. These chips contain basic identification information that you probably don’t want in the hands of strangers.

To best protect your financial and personal information, an RFID-blocking wallet is the way to go.

How to know if your card uses RFID

An RFID tag is different from an EMV chip, which is now included in almost all credit and debit cards. EMV chips require direct contact, so there is no risk of thieves stealing your card information without contact.

You can’t see an RFID tag in a card, but most credit cards with RFID have an RFID symbol (which may look a bit like the WiFi symbol) or the acronym “RFID”. If not, you may be able to check with your credit card company to see if your card is RFID-equipped.

DID YOU KNOW?

RFID tags on your credit card don’t store personal information, but the tags may contain enough information for a thief to use your card to make purchases.

Do you need an RFID-blocking wallet?

There is debate about whether RFID theft is common enough to be a concern. Crimes like card skimming are far more common among thieves at this time.

Most major credit card companies use a one-time CVV code for each RFID transaction. This means that if a thief steals your credit card information, as long as you make another transaction before the thief does, the stolen information is useless. However, this is not the case with all RFID-enabled credit cards, and a thief could still make a major purchase immediately after stealing your information.

In addition, some U.S. states have RFID chips in their licenses or enhanced licenses. In most cases, the only information stored on the RFID chip is an identification number that makes it easier to identify authentic licenses.

When it comes to U.S. passports, however, the RFID can contain basic information that you would absolutely want to keep secure to prevent identity theft. Other membership cards and IDs may also carry personal information best kept out of prying hands.

If you are not willing to take any risks, an RFID wallet is an inexpensive way to protect yourself from the possibility of major financial loss and identity theft.

RFID-blocking methods

Radio waves are relatively easy to block with metals like aluminum, copper, and nickel. Most RFID-blocking wallets have these metals woven into the fabric in thin strands that you aren’t likely to notice. This small bit of metal is all it takes to disrupt the electromagnetic signal needed to permeate your wallet for the purpose of RFID reading.

There are some metal RFID-blocking wallets that can hold several cards and a small amount of cash. Not all metal wallets are RFID-blocking, however, so be sure to check whether the wallet you select is designed to block RFID readers.

Both of these methods create what is known as a “Faraday cage,” which disrupts radio and electromagnetic signals.

CAUTION

If a thief were to collect your credit card data using an RFID reader, they could feasibly create a fake credit card and perform several transactions.

RFID-blocking wallet styles

RFID-blocking wallets come in all of the styles of traditional wallets. If you’re making the transition, it’s easy to find a wallet that fits your preferred style.

Bifold and trifold wallets are a classic choice, and RFID-blocking wallets often look no different from these. Often made of leather or faux leather, these RFID-blocking wallet styles offer the most space for cards, bills, and coins.

Front-pocket wallets are slim and easy to slip into your pocket. These RFID-blocking wallets can hold a few cards and may have a clip or pocket for bills.

Checkbook wallets are long and narrow, offering plenty of room for bills, a checkbook, and cards. This style can take some getting used to, as they fit best in breast pockets, jacket pockets, and bags.

Minimalist wallets are either metal or leather with a compact design barely wider than a credit card. These can store only a few cards and bills, but some people prefer a sleek wallet that fits easily in a small pocket.

RFID-blocking wallet alternatives

A wallet isn’t the only type of RFID-blocking product available. Another option is an RFID-blocking sleeve. These come in different sizes to protect credit cards and passports, and they may be slim enough to fit into your wallet without issue. In most cases, one set of sleeves contains enough for a family.

If wallets aren’t your style, you may be interested in an RFID-blocking handbag or purse. It may be more challenging to find a product like this that fits your style, however.

RFID-blocking backpacks and travel bags are good options if you keep your credit cards or IDs in your bag. These are available in a range of styles, from simple drawstring bags to professional laptop bags.

If you want protection you can wear, some jeans and jackets have RFID-blocking pockets to help keep your information secure.

EXPERT TIP

Removing an RFID tag from a card is no easy task. It is far less of a hassle to purchase an RFID-blocking sleeve or wallet.


Staff  | BestReviews

RFID-blocking wallet prices

The cheapest RFID-blocking wallets cost between $10 and $20. Though they may not be stylish, they are functional and can be a good purchase for a trip to the city or abroad.

Mid-range RFID-blocking wallets cost from $20 to $75. These often have a traditional look and work well for daily use.

The most expensive RFID-blocking wallets cost between $80 and $200 and tend to be name-brand products and/or products made of quality leather. These are well-designed wallets that should last for years.

Tips

  • If you aren’t sure whether your credit card is RFID-enabled, look for the names Paywave (Visa), Paypass (Mastercard), or Expresspay (American Express) as verification.

  • Aluminum foil sometimes works as an RFID blocker. You can put this in a normal wallet or an RFID-blocking wallet for added protection.

  • Unless you are okay with carrying two wallets, make sure the RFID-blocking wallet you choose has enough space for all of your cards and bills.

Other products we considered

There are plenty of RFID-blocking wallets on the market. In addition to our top choices, we love the Itslife Women’s Big Fat RFID Leather Wallet for its impressive size and pockets. This checkbook-style wallet holds multiple passports, an ID, and 19 credit cards, and the checkbook holder is removable. Another excellent choice is the Buvelife Leather RFID Wallet, which holds an impressive 36 cards. With a variety of colors to choose from and enough space to hold a smartphone, this is a classy and convenient option that keeps your cards secure.

To get the best reading, there should be an unobstructed path between the RFID tag and the reader. You can further protect your RFID-enabled cards by keeping them in the middle of your wallet or in a bag with other objects.

FAQ

Q. Could an RFID-blocking wallet damage my credit cards?

A. No. The metal in RFID-blocking wallets simply prevents unwanted signals from penetrating your wallet. It cannot harm your cards (or your smartphone).

Q. Do RFID-blocking wallets work 100 percent of the time?

A. Because they work by disrupting the radio signal of RFID readers, it is possible that the RFID tag on your card could still be read. However, this is very unlikely, and the thief would have to get very close to your wallet for even a slim chance at a reading.

Q. Can RFID-blocking wallets set off metal detectors?

A. This type of wallet will indeed set off a metal detector. Your best option is to remove the wallet from your pocket and place it with your other belongings while going through airport security.

The team that worked on this review
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    Alvina
    Photographer
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    Amos
    Director of Photography
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    Branson
    Videographer
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    Web Producer
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    Production Manager
  • Kyle
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    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Peter
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    Writer
  • Steph
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    Web Producer
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    Vukan
    Post Production Editor

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