Mobile wallets give you the option to leave your cash and cards at home, but can this virtual convenience make it easier to lose sight of your budget?

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Here are a few simple ways to make sure you don’t forget the importance of being financially savvy when paying with your mobile device.

1. Use your mobile credit cards wisely.

Though not all cards are currently accepted for use with a mobile wallet like Apple Pay 1 (and not all merchants accept mobile wallets for payment), mobile technology expert and the founder and CEO of nanoPay Laurence Cooke doesn’t expect that to be the case for long. “Mobile wallets will eventually store general purpose credit, debit, and prepaid cards, as well as merchant-specific credit and gift cards. You will see broad acceptance over the new few years,” predicts Cooke. 2

But with that in mind, the adage “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” has bearing when it comes to mobile wallets. If some of your cards have excessively high interest rates — or if mobile credit access will tempt you to overspend — leave them out of your mobile wallet altogether.

2. Choose your default card carefully.

The first card you load to Apple Pay is designated the “default” card. The feature is intended to be a convenience that expedites your transaction, but it could lead to unintended costs if the card you happen to load first has a higher interest rate than your other cards if you don’t pay the balance in full each month.

Review the terms, interest rate, credit limit, current balance, and rewards earning potential for each of your cards based on where you intend to use your mobile wallet before your create it. Ideally, your default card (which you’ll likely use the most) will have a low interest rate, high available credit limit, little to no existing balance each month, and offers rewards.

3. Practice how to navigate your mobile wallets features.

Some cards include the opportunity to earn additional rewards for purchases at specific times of the year. Others may offer money-saving discounts when you use the card to buy from certain merchants.

Though experts at Apple Insider 3 say it’s easy to select among the cards in your mobile wallet (tap the stack of card images shown at the bottom of the Apple Pay screen), you have to go into the “iOS Settings” application to change your default card permanently. If you want to make the most of your card rewards and discount opportunities, practice how to select cards in your mobile wallet before you’re at the point of sale. The more confident you feel about the features and navigation in your mobile wallet, the less likely that you’ll feel too hurried to choose the card you want to use in a crowded checkout line.

4. Don’t abandon your good financial habits.

Mobile wallets change the way you pay, but they shouldn’t impact the financial habits you’ve already established that help you live within a budget. Though you’ll point your mobile device to pay instead of using a card, the rest of the transaction remains familiar.

“Any purchases you make with a mobile wallet are easily tracked in your accounts. You will get a normal paper receipt, too, just as with any store transaction,” says Mark Schroeder, founder of The Consumers Edge and a frequent user of mobile wallets. 4

If the card accounts in your mobile wallet are linked with a budget software, you’ll see the transaction posted there, too. Check in with your financial and credit card accounts frequently to ensure that you know what you’ve spent, and to verify that purchase amounts are accurate.

Though the experts at NerdWallet 5 recommend several budgeting tools designed to keep spending in check. YNAB (You Need a Budget) is one app in particular that could simplify the process of managing a budget while using mobile wallets. Because the app has the ability to sync across several platforms in real time, you (and anyone you may share a budget with) can maintain a real-time view of purchases, whether they’re made from online banking platforms, with a physical card, or from a mobile wallet.

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Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.

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