We’ve all heard the horror stories about the traveller who had their wallet and money taken on their first day in a new country, or even worse what is becoming more and more common is our handy PayPass chips in our credit cards being scanned from right in our pockets!
While the bank will likely reimburse you for any money that gets taken directly from an account, it can be a righteous pain in the backside to get your credit card cancelled and have to go without for the remainder of your trip, especially when your credit card is your way of paying for hotels and events.
Luckily now there are a lot of measures you can take to make it hard for someone to swipe your belongings and account details.
That’s why we have put together this guide on how to protect your money. If you follow any, or all, of these ideas then you can travel around any city in the world in the knowledge that your money is safe.
RFID Card Sleeve
Selling for under $10 you can now buy a RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) blocking sleeve that you simply insert your card into and it is protected from card scanning devices while in your wallet or bag.
These low cost sleeves will only last you one trip as once they’re creased and worn they lose their effectiveness. You can purchase more heavy duty sleeves, but at just $10, you can’t go wrong.
Talking from a personal perspective, I had money stolen from my credit card while on a train. I was standing there with tons of others, someone scanned my credit card from my pocket and the next minute I had lost over $1000.
Trust me, you can never be too safe in this day and age!
RFID Wallets, Bags & Suitcases
Using the same technology as the RFID sleeves, a few manufactures have now incorporated it into bags and wallets and even suitcases are now getting a front pocket to keep all your scannable items in like your passport.
It is a small price to pay to keep your valuables safe and well worth the effort in doing so.
RFID Jamming Device
This is a new technology that sends out its own RFID signal that helps to disrupt scanners from picking up your signal.
It comes in the shape of a card and can easily be kept in your wallet or bag.
It has its own power source that powers up to disable any frequency, which can be annoying with tap and go cards at train stations, but with an easy on and off switch you can manually turn it off when needed.
Coming in at around $60, they are a great option for when you have multiple cards and passports in the one place. I use one of these myself and have never had an issue since using one.
Tin Foil Sandwich
For a very low cost quickie solution, grab a piece of tin foil and make your own sleeve.
The RDIF frequencies can’t penetrate through the foil and will help to protect from skimmers.
Most banks now will offer you a travel card which is much the same as a credit card in that it will work in pretty much every country, but it acts the same as a debit card in that you have to load money onto the card before you leave.
Another bonus with the card is that you can load the currency for the country that you will be visiting, so no exchange rate fees when you visit the ATM.
Unlike a credit card you need to enter a 4 digit pin for most purchases, so if the card does get stolen, it can’t be cleaned out at an ATM or a retail store and can easily be cancelled with the funds put back into another account so you can still get access to it.
Qantas offer a great travel card called ‘Qantas Cash’, much the same as the big banks but you can earn Frequent Flyer points at the same time.
So you’ve done all right things to protect from people scanning your cards, now you have to make sure you keep your cards in your pocket and not in the hands of a thief.
You can get the tried and true money bag that you clip around your waist underneath your clothes, and while these work quite well, they can be a little awkward to get your belongings out of when shopping.
There is now a new and improved version of this called the ‘Money Belt’, it looks and functions like a normal belt that you have holding up your pants, but you can store your folded up notes inside, ingenious!
If carrying a handbag, always keep it zipped up or closed and never take all your credit cards and cash out with you on the one outing, make sure you have something left behind in the hotel room for emergencies.
A crowded place like a packed train or a busy market is prime territory for pickpockets, keep your wallet in a deep front pocket is always a good option, if you keep your wallet in your back pocket you are asking for trouble.
Yes, it is as scary as it sounds, some thieves even go to the lengths of slashing the bottom of your bag as well as slashing the strap to get the bag off you.
While this doesn’t occur as often as pickpockets, you can purchase bags especially for travel that have wire cord hidden in the straps and are made with a strong slash proof material.
These products can be expensive, but it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Check out some of the anti-theft bags here www.travelgear.com.au