In the past buying a wallet was much simpler, you had to find a wallet which would hold all you require and looked aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case any more due to credit card skimming. With a rise in credit card skimming a new invention has been created to try and combat the problem: an RFID blocking wallet.
RFID blocking / jamming wallets have been designed to intercept radio frequency readers especially those operating at 13.56MHz, the frequency of contactless bank cards. To help you protect yourself this article reviews the best RFID blocking wallets, purses and blocking sleeves available.
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What is credit card skimming?
Card skimming is where an unauthorised person gets hold of your card details using a RFID reader in close proximity to your bank cards. A card skimmer is a small electrical device like that of a card machine you get in Walmart. The problem is that these devices can be a lot smaller and not noticeable at a quick glance.
Card skimming is a larger problem than most people realise, CNBC have reported that skimming has cost people over $2 billion globally. The video below by Inside Edition will highlight how easy is it is to be card skimmed while in public.
Why worry about credit card skimming
With the ever increasing use of contactless cards transactions, the risk of card skimming will only increase. In the UK contactless cards have been around for some time, in the first half of 2016 almost $7m was stolen (Source: Telegraph). Contactless payments are typically limited below $100, and if someone were to try and skim your card there is a chance they will. If you notice you’ve been skimmed you typically can get your money back but this can require a lot of effort.
How to protect yourself from credit card skimming
The first thing to do is be aware of electronic pick pockets but unfortunately they aren’t the easiest to spot. What you need to do is be aware of the people around you and watch out for anyone who is acting suspiciously.
The second thing to do is only carry your cards on you when you need them. The more you have your cards on you, the more likely you are to get card skimmed. If you are carrying your cards in a bag, store the cards as close to the center as possible. This is because RFID cards only have a small reading range and being in the middle of a bag makes the cards a lot harder to be skimmed.
The last and most important tip is. When carrying your cards always use a RFID Blocking wallet, sleeve or purse. These items give you the best protection as it makes the task of skimming a card much more difficult.
What is a RFID Blocking wallet
A RFID Blocking wallet is purposely designed to keep your cards safe. Minimizing the risk of getting your card skimmed by any potential thieves. It is advised by many travel guides to use RFID Blocking / jamming technology especially while travelling. These wallets use a faraday cage to create a virtual shield around your bank cards, protecting them from radio frequency reading devices.
How do RFID Blocking Wallets Work
RFID, which operates your cards stands for Radio Frequency Identification. For shops to take payment they use machines which read the radio frequency of your card. This is exactly what card skimmers do.
Radio waves have a low frequency and a long wavelength, which means that they have low energy levels. Having a low energy level means they have low penetration levels, so can be blocked relatively easily.
A RFID Blocking wallet works like a Faraday cage. The RFID blocking wallet, purse and card sleeves utilise an outer cage like structure made from a conductive material. This shields the contents from electromagnetic waves and creates an insulated internal space.
Do RFID Blocking Wallets Work
In short yes they do work. In reality some work better than others due to the design structure of the conductive materials. Some products have a better blocking ability due to material selection and material coverage.
Which RFID Blocking Wallets Work
Below I have selected and ranked what I think are the best RFID blocking wallets, card sleeves and purses based on blocking capabilities, looks, capacity and quality.
Best RFID Blocking Wallets
1. Mt Eston RFID Blocking Trifold Bifold Men’s Leather Wallet
For me this wallet is in a league of its own. It offers great protection from card skimmers, and is made from top quality leather with brilliant stitching. This wallet looks very stylish and boasts the largest card capacity from my top 8, at 18. The customer service from Mt Eston is second to none which gives peace of mind when purchasing. Anyone who has had a poor product has had it replaced straight away, no questions asked! The wallet arrives in a gift box making it a perfect present.
This wallet impressed me so much that it has become my personal wallet which I use every day.
2. Tommy Hilfiger Slim Men’s Leather Wallet
Tommy Hilfiger have produced an amazing range of RFID blocking wallets, varying in style and color making sure there is a perfect choice for everyone. The wallet arrives in a high quality gift box which makes this the perfect present. Made from 100% genuine leather Tommy Hilfiger maintain their high quality brand image with these wallets.
The wallet has 6 slots for cards and identification, making it a slim lightweight wallet perfect if you don’t require a bulky wallet. The only reason this wallet hasn’t taken the number one position in this review is because Mt Eston provides an equally high quality wallet but offers better RFID blocking abilities.
3. Buffway Slim Minimalist Front Pocket RFID Blocking Wallet
This wallet is perfect for anyone who is looking for a small lightweight wallet which also has a surprising amount of space available. The quality of stitching is very good as long as you don’t overfill, if overfilled this can lead to ripping. Another bonus to this well designed wallet is that Buffway offer a very broad selection of wallets to suit all tastes. The wallet offers good protection but Mt Eston is slightly superior.
This wallet is the least expensive of the ones reviewed which is amazing for the quality of product!
4. Timberland Men’s Slim Leather Wallet
Timberland renowned shoe manufacturers sell a wide range of accessories from watches to sunglasses. One of their product ranges is wallets, some which include RFID blocking. As with the Timberland brand everything they make is exceptionally high quality and these wallets are exactly the same. Their slim RFID Blocking leather wallet comes in a range of 4; black, dark brown, teak and wheat. The wallet is quite slimline and can hold 6 cards and has one additional ID sleeve. The ID sleeve is my least favorite feature of this wallet as it is on the outside and one key reason why it doesn’t rank higher in my review. If it weren’t for the external ID sleeve the wallet would be quite visually appealing.
On the plus side, Timberlands wallets offer good RFID blocking / jamming capabilities and arrives in a good gift box. Unfortunately there is some difference between the described color and what arrives but typically isn’t too far from expected.
Overall, this is a good all round wallet but lacks the looks of some competitors and the blocking capabilities of Mt Eston.
5. Stealth Mode Leather Bifold RFID Blocking Wallet
Stealth Mode is a good all round wallet, with significant hold capacity and style. The wallet looks extremely good in beige but is slightly let down by the ID slots cut out looking a little cheap. The wallet has 8 card slots which can hold 12 cards comfortably, the joint second highest behind Mt Eston. Protection from this wallet is also very high and matches that of Buffway.
Some customers have had problems with the stitching of this wallet, and others have had problems with card slots tearing at the sides. This has only happened to a small percentage of people and didn’t happen to my wallet. Still this is something to be aware of when buying.
A final positive to this wallet is the gift box and hand written note this wallet come with. It creates a nice experience when opening, and makes a great gift.
6. Simideo Men’s Leather RFID Blocking Wallet
The protection given by this wallet is brilliant, and Simideo are proud to boast their military grade blocking material. Along with the great protection, the wallet will hold 12 cards the same as stealth mode the second highest reviewed. The wallet is made from genuine leather and has nice stitching although I am not a fan of the folding ID compartment.
7. Sharkk Large Aluminum Wallet With RFID Protection
The wallet will give you the greatest peace of mind when it comes to protecting yourself from card skimming. Its full aluminium case gives all round protection while remaining lightweight. Inside the wallet holds 9 cards in total, rivalling the Buffway. Unfortunately for me this is where the positives start to run dry. I am not a big fan of the style of this wallet and think the plastic lining is cheap looking. The wallet uses a plastic latch which is not designed well and is likely to break much sooner than anyone would want.
8. Teng Slim & Minimalist RFID Blocking Wallet
This is one of the most stylish wallets being reviewed, it has a very sleek design with great looking leather. This is the smallest wallet and so has the lowest card capacity. If you are looking for a small wallet this may be the perfect one for you. This wallet has a quick access card slot which is good if you’re in a rush. Although, this does leave a card visible from the outside. I’m not a fan of this feature as it feels like you’d be more at risk of card skimming.
RFID Blocking Purses
So my taste in purses isn’t exactly the greatest, and for that reason I’ve had some female help. The purses we recommend are as follows.
1. Fossil Emma RFID Zip Wallet
Fossil has a history for making top quality goods, the Emma range of purse is no exception and has stormed to the top of this review. It is a larger purse than some competitors holding 12 cards and made from great quality leather. There is a zipper change compartment on the back of the wallet which stores plenty of coins, it is easy to use and not as tight as most competitors. The wallet has enough room to hold things other than cards and money, phones can be stored including the iPhone 11 and Samsung Galaxy M21. There is also an internal zipped area, which is perfect for anything you do not want on show.
The Fossil Emma comes with a sleek wrist strap with the brand logo on the clasp, this is the finishing touch to the perfect purse. This purse has great RFID blocking capabilities and is amongst the best of all its competitors. Personally this purse is money well spent, and should be a great choice for you.
2. Travelambo Woman’s RFID Blocking Wallet
Travelambo are in seconds spot due to their extremely stylish wallet with a great range, meaning there is a purse for everyone. This wallet is very compact and has 15 card slots, the second highest being reviewed. The wallet also offers good protection against card skimming to help give peace of mind.
Travelambo are a relatively small company and hand craft all of there purses and wallets, which adds a beautiful touch. Unfortunately their only downside of being a small company is that their quality control seems to let them down occasionally. Some people have received purses or wallets and had issues, usually with the zips. You shouldn’t let this put you off buying what should be a brilliant wallet.
3. Fossil Logan RFID Wallet
The Fossil Logan is an extremely well designed small wallet range, with many different styles to suit all tastes. If you are looking for a small compact wallet then this is the one. As a mini wallet the number of card slots is only 6, one external and 5 internal, if this is all you require then it’s the perfect wallet. This wallet offers a high level of protection and you know you’re buying quality with fossil.
The Logan range uses a snap fasten closing feature and external zip pocket for loose change along with 2 internal slips for bank notes. Notes fit in comfortably when unfolded, but change space is slightly limited due to the size.
4. ItsLife Woman’s RFID Blocking Large Capacity Wax Clutch Wallet
This wallet comes a very close to Fossils Logan leather wallet. The reason it loses out is down to its looks. Luckily they offer a wide range of leather wallets in a variety of colors. The reason ItsLife rank so high is because they offer military grade shielding as well as having the highest capacity wallet of all reviewed. The wallet has a massive 21 card slots!
Some people have had problems with these wallet usually caused by a weak zip or scratching easily. This is the main reason for the lower ranking.
5. Boxiki RFID Blocking Travel Money Belt
Boxiki’s fanny pack offers great protection for your cards, phone, money and personal belongings. If you are travelling or at a festival then I would advise this product. The money belt, slim design means its not very visible and can be covered by clothing. The biggest issue is the quality of the zip as it can be a little flimsy. If you have an issue with the quality of the product contact Boxiki as they have great customer service.
6. Gold Horse Slim RFID Blocking Card Holder
This is the smallest product being reviewed and has 4 card slots. Gold Horse have invested a lot of time and effort into protecting cards inside this holder. The main material layers can block signals from 10MHz to 30MHz which covers the frequency of card transactions. The card holder has a simple and elegant design with nice stitching leading to a good all-round small card holder.
RFID Blocking Sleeves
If you aren’t wanting the size of a RFID Blocking wallet but are still wanting your cards to be protected, then a sleeve may be perfect for you. These are slim, lightweight and great for stopping card skimmers.
For a full RFID blocking sleeve review check out this article.
Alpine Rivers offer the best sleeves on the market, and when bought you receive 14 card holders and 4 passport protectors.
One thing to be careful when using these card sleeves is the card can start to imprint the details onto the sleeve. This should only occur if pressure is applied to the sleeve, so I wouldn’t regularly use these when storing the card in a wallet.
Over all these RFID blocking sleeves are great especially when trying to travel light. I really recommend Alpine Rivers.
Hopefully this article has given you as much information on card skimming and how to stop skimming as you require. Another set of RFID products you may have which are subject to theft is your vehicle fob, and more importantly your vehicle. Theft of vehicles via Relay attack has increased drastically over the last few years. While vehicle manufacturers safety is lacking, to help stop relay attack please check out this page.
If you have any questions, recommendations or anything else then please contact me via my contact page.
Product Review Lad
The answer to this question depends on the wallet. Most wallets with RFID blocking materials only block 13.56MHz, some block between approximately 10-30MHz. As Bluetooth operates at a much higher frequency of 2.45GHz most wallets do not block bluetooth.
If you’re looking for a wallet to block Bluetooth signals then Mt Eston would be the wallet of choice as this blocks frequencies between 10MHz to 3GHz. Mt Eston provides the best wallet on the market with amazing quality and blocking abilities.
RFID blocking means that something has the ability to stop Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). Some devices such as contactless credit cards, book scanners in libraries and parts stored in manufacturing facilities use RFID to identify linked information. For example bank account numbers and sort codes, RFID blocking stops this information being visible.
In short, leather partially blocks RFID. RFID has a relatively short range of several centimetres, leather helps create a shield which slightly reduces this distance. To be able to fully block RFID signals a faraday cage is required. All RFID blocking wallets have a form of faraday cage within them.
Most wallets use a foil like material with a mixture of copper and aluminium, this is covered with a synthetic material usually Tyvek. This blocking foil is sewn into the inside of the wallet and is not visible.