Cell phones have improved significantly over the past decade. With the introduction of the smartphone more than 10 years ago, most of us now walk around with a mini computer in our pocket. Smartphones allow us to surf the internet, manage our finances and connect with family and friends. And in a lot of ways, our phones are beginning to replace our wallets. Here are some ways they do so.
- They eliminate the need for business cards
Years ago when you received a business card, you probably stashed it in your wallet until you needed to contact the person. Unless you had a spot for your collection of business cards, they probably took up space in your wallet.
Today, cell phones have virtually replaced the need to carry around business cards. Now when you meet someone, you can enter the person’s information into your phone’s Contacts. This includes their name, email address, home address and website. You can even take notes on the person to refer back to.
Depending on your phone and laptop, your contacts might even sync between devices for easy retrieval.
- They store your credit and debit card information
For years we’ve kept cash, debit cards and credit cards in our wallets. This might be a convenient location, but there’s also the hassle of requesting a new debit and credit card if your wallet is lost or stolen. Plus, there’s the emotional distress of losing cash that you can’t replace.
Fortunately, several apps allow you to store credit card and debit card numbers directly on your phone. A couple of options include Google Wallet and Apple Pay. The best part is you can also use these apps to make purchases, both in stores and online.
- They can store loyalty cards, entertainment tickets and boarding passes
Not only can you store your debit card and credit card information on your cell phone, but there’s also an option to store loyalty or reward cards as well as entertainment tickets. You can do this in Google Wallet and Passbook on iOS devices.
Simply open the app and scan your card to import it into the app. If you purchase a movie ticket or a boarding pass online, there’s also an option to import this information into your app. This results in carrying less information in your hands and wallet.
- They can eliminate the need to carry your ID
To be abundantly clear, you will need to present your actual driver’s license or form of identification when you’re pulled over by a cop or when conducting important business. But in “less official” situations that require a picture ID, a photo of your driver’s license might suffice if you forget your wallet and ID at home.
I always keep a photo of my driver’s license in my phone, just in case. This came in handy last year when I forgot my wallet at home and had to pick up a friend’s daughter from school. The school wouldn’t release her without a picture ID confirming my identity. Fortunately, I didn’t have to drive back home and was allowed to sign her out using my photo ID.
- They can store important medical information
If you have a disease, an allergy or take medications, you can include an “in case of emergency” medical card in your wallet. This card also provides information on who to contact during an emergency.
The good news is that some cell phones include apps to hold vital medical information. For example, use the Health app on your iOS device and fill out the medical ID section. If you’re unconscious or can’t speak, first responders can access this information from your home screen without needing to enter your passcode.
Bottom Line: Wallets may never completely become extinct. Even so, the amount of information you’ll need to carry inside your wallet will likely decrease as cell phones evolve and become capable of holding more information.