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Why Your iPhone Should Never Replace Your Wallet



Apple Pay makes it easy to pay for goods at stores using your iPhone, but here’s why your iPhone should never replace your wallet.

Apple Pay launched last year and we’re actually approaching its one-year anniversary later this month. In that year, the new payment platform has seen massive growth, with many nation-wide retail chains now accepting Apple Pay as a form of payment at the checkout lane.

It works by first setting up Apple Pay by adding a credit or debit card to Passbook on your iPhone. From there, go to any store that accepts Apple Pay, hover your iPhone over the pay terminal and simply place your finger on the Home button to authorize the payment with Touch ID.

Read: How to Set Up Apple Pay

It’s really easy to use and it makes you believe you’re actually living in the future. Plus, the security benefits are abundant as well, since Apple Pay doesn’t actually give the retailer your credit card information, whereas a regular swipe of a credit or debit card would provide this info to the store. A store’s payment platform could get hacked into and your credit card information could get stolen, just like with the Target and Home Depot hacks, as well as numerous other store hacks over the last couple of years.


Apple Pay is great and all, but we’re not at a point in time where your iPhone can replace your wallet, and I’m not sure we’ll ever get there. Here’s why.

Your Wallet Stores More Than Just Credit Cards

Perhaps one of the biggest arguments for iPhones not replacing wallets is that your wallet stores way more than just your credit or debit cards. Your wallet also stores your ID, spare cash, and likely other cards like your insurance card and other forms of identification.

For starters, showing a picture of your driver’s license probably won’t cut it in most states, whether you’re at the bar or getting stopped in traffic by a police officer.


Earlier this year, Iowa announced plans to allow drivers to use their phones to show their ID during traffic stops, but it still has yet to take off and it’s only one state out of 49 others.

Other IDs usually work just fine, though. Recently I was able to prove that I had health insurance to a doctor by showing them a picture of my health insurance card that was on my iPhone. Granted, they really just need the policy number and such, but it was one step closer to emptying out my wallet.

However, I don’t know anyone who would give their phone to a police officer and let them walk off with it to their police cruiser for a few minutes. Essentially, there are a lot of different factors that come into play with this, which means that it’s really just better to have your driver’s license and phone separate from each other.

What If You Lose Your iPhone?

When you use your iPhone as your wallet, you’re pretty much putting all of your eggs in one basket and taking a huge risk.


If you ever lose your iPhone or someone steals it, your wallet is also instantly gone as well. Granted, this can still happen even if these two things were separate, like being mugged at gunpoint or something, but there’s at least less of a chance of losing both your iPhone and your wallet if you keep them separated.

Losing just your iPhone can be a travesty, but you can easily just buy a new one and restore a backup to get everything back, but when you lose your wallet, it’s usually a much bigger deal and way more of a hassle, since you have to cancel credit cards, renew your driver’s license, etc.

If Your iPhone Dies, You No Longer Have a Wallet

Battery life is one of the biggest complaints users have about their iPhones, and while I’m sure many users do their best to keep their device charged up when they can, sometimes it’s out of their control and they end up with a dead iPhone.

iPhone 6S Plus iOS 9.0.2 - 7

If your iPhone should ever die due to low battery, you no longer have a wallet, so you could essentially say that your wallet has a battery life as well, and if it runs low and dies, you’ll suddenly be without your driver’s license, credit cards, etc.

Again, you’re putting all of your eggs in one basket by doing this, and the things that let you buy stuff at the store and prove your own identity will temporarily vanish completely if it ever runs out of battery. Sounds pretty lame, right?

Widespread Use Still Isn’t Available

While Apple Pay is available at a large handful of retailers, it’s not available everywhere, so if you used your iPhone as your wallet, you’d only be able to shop at specific stores, which may sound like a big deal, but it would probably get on your nerves eventually. It would be like seeing all of these options on a menu, but you could only select something out of a specific group of items, which may or may not be great.

square apple pay support

Of course it’s possible that Apple Pay is available at most of the places that you regularly shop, which is great, but for a majority of people, there are probably a handful of favorite stores that aren’t supported yet.

As time goes on, though, that list of supported stores should grow significantly, but there are still a million reasons to keep an actual wallet on your person.



  1. Davin Peterson

    10/12/2015 at 1:30 pm

    Hey don’t forget about Android Pay. Android had Google Wallet years before Apple launched Apple Pay

    • jrox16

      10/13/2015 at 9:56 am

      Yeah we know, but it didn’t count and no one cared because no one used it since it was a terrible system. Unlock phone, turn on NFC, launch app, scan, type in code, etc… Took longer to use Google Wallet than just swiping a card, I know because I did.

      That’s why Google and Samsung are playing catchup now to Apple Pay in making a proper and convenient system people might actually want to use.

  2. Julio Ojeda-Zapata

    10/12/2015 at 1:32 pm

    A good read … but a pointlessly premature one since no is really arguing for a phone-only approach, nor attempting such given the impossibility of achieving it given current circumstances. In other words, #strawman.

  3. robertjames

    10/12/2015 at 4:37 pm

    uh, if you lose your iphone you can remotely whip it. been like that for a long time..

  4. jrox16

    10/13/2015 at 9:52 am

    Some of these arguments are bunk and I generally disagree with this article. For instance, if you lose your wallet, you’re in much bigger trouble than losing your phone since you won’t have to cancel all your cards if you lose your phone as long as you have erase after 10 tries turned on. You’ve got amazing security on your phone with your fingerprint, find my phone, and erasing features (even remotely), but exactly NONE of that on your wallet.

    The wallet should stay in the car for when you have to show an ID to a cop or have an accident (hopefully not), and all retail locations should take Apple Pay (or Google Pay, whatever). Walking around with both items just leaves you open to losing more or more theft. (A mugger can take your phone and wallet). The iPhone absolutely should replace the wallet, but not in that the wallet won’t exist anymore but rather that the wallet should be left behind in the car (or at home if you don’t drive). The phone is much safer thanks to all the security features I listed above which the wallet completely lacks.

  5. Maged Bishara

    10/31/2015 at 4:41 pm

    Lots of good points here but the main point hasn’t been touched upon and negates a lot if what this article is trying to convince us of.

    Many of the people who are trying these types of digital payment options are the same people that are going after the newest technology even though they’re still in beta mode.

    The world if going in that direction and it’s always a bumpy ride at the beginning.

    I still carry my wallet “just in case” but I see the day coming that will allow me not to. Also my wallet is a lot thinner now.

    Yes I still hold onto my driver’s license, insurance and registration papers (but even those have been accepted by the police when I showed them).

    How about all of those loyalty cards that you no longer have to carry around? Library cards (for yourself and each of your kids for example), different ID cards such as student ID cards, etc.)?

    My wallet note only has my driver’s license and a few credit cards (just in case). It used to be so thick that I didn’t want to put it in my back pocket.

    Also the fact that my credit card and debit card details aren’t transmitted to the merchant anymore us a big deal (I’ve has my bank card cloned on three separate occasions).

    So, yes, we’re not there yet but does that mean that we should stop progressing? If that were the case then a lot of previous advancements would have stalled as well because early adopters don’t feel that the hurdles and glitches are worth the effort.

    By the way, smart phones would also not have taken off since most people at the beginning were saying that “a phone is a phone”, and phablets were being ridiculed up to aayear ago.

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