Man on street opens his wallet to look inside.

What Should I Keep in My Wallet?

Last Updated: March 8, 2022
4 min read

While you don’t want your wallet to weigh down your purse or pocket, you should make sure to carry what you need — like credit cards, forms of ID and emergency contact information — everywhere you go. But since what you choose to carry also affects how susceptible you are to having your personal information compromised or your identity stolen, some things, like your social security card or a blank check, are better left at home.

What to keep in your wallet

Of course, there are a few items that must go in your wallet, not only to allow you access to the money you need, but to keep you safe in an emergency.

  • Two Credit Cards: It may be wise to not only have your main credit card in your wallet, but also a spare one. You don’t want to get caught by surprise if there’s a technical issue with your main card, you reach your spending limit or a retailer doesn’t accept that type of card. If you have more than two cards, you could leave the extras at home unless you plan to use one of them. If your wallet gets stolen, only having to report the theft of two cards can save you some time (and stress) compared to reporting many credit cards stolen.
  • Cash: You likely use your credit or debit cards for most purchases, but it can be helpful to carry a bit of cash, too. You’ll likely have to make the occasional cash purchase and it’s good to be prepared so you don’t get stuck trying to find an ATM.
  • Debit Card: Not only can you use your debit card to make purchases, but you can also use it to get cash at an ATM. If you need cash quickly, a debit card is the way to go — cash advances on your credit card typically charge higher fees.
  • ID With Your Current Address:There are so many instances where you need official identification that it just makes sense to keep it in your wallet at all times. From driving to checking into medical appointments and beyond, you’ll need your ID with you.
  • Emergency Contact Info: Keep a card in your wallet with your phone number (so if someone finds your lost wallet, they can call you). Also include contact information for friends or relatives who can help in an emergency. If you have severe allergies or medical conditions that medical personnel should know about, include that on the card as well. Carrying this information could save your life.
  • Insurance Cards: Don’t leave home without your medical and auto insurance cards, as you will need access to this information in the event of an emergency.

What to leave at home

To ensure your identity isn’t stolen or compromised, not all of your important items should be on you. Consider securing the following at home:

  • Social Security Card, Birth Certificate or Passport: Sometimes it’s necessary to have these items with you — when you travel or have to show multiple forms of ID — but once you no longer need them, store them at home in a secure place. If someone takes these items, they may try to steal your identity.
  • A Spare Key to Your Home: Don’t keep an ID with your address on it plus a spare key in your wallet together, because if found (or stolen) together, they make it easier to locate and enter your home. If you worry about losing your keys, it’s much safer to leave a copy with a trusted friend or neighbor.
  • A List of Your Passwords: Don’t make it easy for thieves to spend your money on retail sites, or worse, have access to your online banking accounts. If you must keep a written record of your passwords, keep it in a secure place and don’t carry it with you.
  • Blank Checks: These also make it far too easy for someone to steal money from you. You can fill out a check in advance, but don’t carry blank ones in your wallet.

Safeguarding your identity and personal information

As mentioned above, what you choose to carry in your wallet can make you more or less likely to become a victim of identity theft or other fraudulent activity.

As a Discover cardmember, you have exclusive access to a powerful option to help you protect your identity and personally identifiable information: Discover® Identity Theft Protection1 lets you know if your Social Security number or other personal info you add is on one of the thousands of dark websites monitored; if new bank accounts are opened or updated in your name at any one of thousands of financial institutions we monitor every day; if someone is using your SSN to create new identities at Experian, and much more. All with 100 percent U.S.-based fraud resolution experts and up to $1 million in identity coverage1.

By taking advantage of the various protections that are available (including Discover® Identity Theft Protection for $15 per month) — and applying some common sense to what goes into your wallet and what stays home — you can enjoy added peace of mind, while also being better protected from becoming a victim of fraud.

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