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RFID protection ???

I just received an updated credit card and, for the first time, it has a chip. I have read a lot about RFID protection. The information spreads from "no problem" to "you must have a sleeve for your card." I would appreciate opinions from well-traveled chip-card holders. Prices on these items range greatly. One I saw said made of aluminum foil. Is this any safer than wrapping the card in foil? I plan to just use my debit cards that don't have chips mostly on my travel, but always take one credit card just in case and this new edition is it.

Opinions please.

Posted by
647 posts

They make RFID sleeves that you can just slide your credit cards in, they take up no space and are the size of a credit card. You can get them on Amazon. Last year I bought a PacSafe 150 Wallet that is RFID and I love it . . . it's a good size, holds several cards, my passport, coins, dollars and it zips up for security . . . I found it cheaper on amazon than on the PacSafe website, but the PacSafe website lets you compare all their wallets. The sleeves also work great if you don't want a wallet. You'll get lots of great opinions on here . . . there are lots of products. I'll be curious to see what other like and use . . . for now, I am VERY pleased with my PacSafe 150 wallet because I like that my passport is in there and protected too.

Posted by
28128 posts

They make rfid sleeves so that they can sell rfid sleeves, and they make big money making "safer" things so that they can sell "safer" things.

We have had chip and pin in the UK for many years and have very few problems with them, and the banks stand behind them.

We have had contactless payment systems - often called rfid - for many years too, starting off with Oyster Cards which people who visit London have used and loved for years.

I have never heard of real life stories here of people stealing by rfid. I have 2 contactless cards in my wallet and probably have another soon. I love them. Never had a problem. One of them is an American Express.

I don't use a rfid shield.

When I travel I do use a money belt.

One I need, one I don't.

Posted by
8889 posts

A chip-and-pin is not RFID. Two totally different things.

  • Since a chip-and-pin card is not RFID, blocking RFID is a waste of time.
  • RFID is used in ID security cards, where you hold the card to a reader to be let into a building or factory, and for public transport, like London's Oyster cards.
  • Some banks have tried to introduce "contactless payment" cards. But if you don't want this, just tell the bank to disable the system for you.

Credit and debit cards with chip-and-pin are a good idea. Both my debit and credit cards have been "chip-and-pin" for years. This is a lot safer than the old-fashioned magnetic stripe and signature.

Posted by
83 posts

I'm not entirely sure what RFID protection would be. I have lived in Europe for many years and have credit cards here that have this technology (chip). I'm wondering if this new "protection" is just a marketing ploy for new users of this kind of card.

Posted by
6511 posts

You can do a search above on 'rfid' and it will bring up several previous threads on this subject. I don't remember anybody here recommending RFID protection or even thinking that it might be useful.

Posted by
8889 posts

Terry, RFID is not "chip-and-pin"!
"chip-and-pin" debit and credit cards do not have RFID unless they are also "contactless" as well, and very few are. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contactless_payment

biometric passports are RFID, as are most factory passes.
If you want to stop the data on an RFID card being read, just wrap it in aluminium foil (or any other sort of metal covering). But then of course you cannot use the RFID, and you will look very silly unwrapping your passport from foil at the immigration desk.

Posted by
8995 posts

RFID is absolutely is a chip. It's a different kind of chip that chip & pin transactions use, but it's a chip none the less. RFID chips are buried inside the plastic of the card not visible, radio waves are used to read the data contained on that chip. C&P chips are visible on the surface of the card, and physically inserted into a reader and current moves through the chip to read it data. Many cards these days have both these chip implanted.

Posted by
18 posts

I don't know what the technology might be called but my Canada credit cards have a chip and are also able to make payments with a "tap". The symbol on the card is like the WiFi symbol - 3 curves
I suspect that this information can be scanned by someone with the right equipment

Posted by
40 posts

For convenience when paying you will want to have the card with the chip. Checkouts go much faster. If you have not set up the card to have a PIN, then they will print a receipt for you to sign in most cases.

The chip is not required on debit cards to get cash from ATMs.

Posted by
4535 posts

It never fails that these issues generate lots of confusion, even amongst some seasoned travelers.

RFID is a completely separate payment system that works without direct contact to the card reader. As a few have noted, transit cards, employee ID cards, passports and some credit cards use this system. But is has NOTHING to do with the much-talked-about EMV chip credit cards and the one that Brenda mentions in her OP. A chip and PIN or chip and signature card must be inserted into a reader so it can make contact with the chip itself.

So do you need RFID protection?

Do you have a credit card with RFID technology? It'll show the little Wi-Fi symbol on the card. If not, you are wasting your money completely. The other cards mentioned that use RFID are useless to thieves even if they could steal your data, including your passport.

If you do happen to have an RFID credit card, know that stealing the data is extremely difficult and rare. Yes the companies that sell sleeves and blockers show someone holding a reader next to your ass, but the equipment has to be extremely sophisticated and the criminal enterprise highly resourceful to actually break the encryption and make use of the data. Your average thief is neither of those. Know that people the world over have RFID cards and there is no huge security fraud with them. Your old fashioned magnetic strip credit card is a multitude times more vulnerable to fraud than an RFID card. Your brand new chip and signature card is far more susceptible to fraud than an RFID card will be. So ask yourself is the cost to protect yourself from something with such little risk is really worth it?

Posted by
3656 posts

The RFID sleeve / no sleeve issue reminds one of a plate of spaghetti because it is really hard to determine where accurate information begins and ends. The only thing I can state with certainty is that we recently obtained an credit card with a chip and a pin. (Chip & Pin verses Chip & Signature is another issue altogether). The card issuer provided an RFID sleeve with the admonishment to always keep it in the sleeve when not using it. So why not use it? Practically no weight to it and the sleeve (with the card inside) still fits into the plastic card holder of the wallet. Even if one has to buy half a dozen they don't cost that much compared to what we really spend on travel.

Posted by
3714 posts

What Keith said. I even overheard a woman at a coffee shop in Tacoma, WA showing her grandson the fancy credit card protector she had that kept people from getting her CC info. Obviously, she knew nothing about the technology.

And since I've overheard bank employees still trying to sell travelers checks to people going to Europe, I don't give much credence to similar employees because I doubt that they know much about the technology either.

BTW, neither my husband nor I take a wallet on our trips. Our money belts provide plenty of room for the very few cards we carry. I could be proven wrong, but I think we will know if anyone sticks their hand down the front of our pants.

Posted by
5697 posts

My only comment -- I found a RFID-blocking neck wallet for $1 at a local thrift store, so SOMEBODY didn't think it was necessary. (I did buy it, but just to carry passport and boarding pass through the airport. )

Posted by
3656 posts

Since Laura B mentioned going through the airport, remember that the sleeves will set off metal detectors.

Posted by
754 posts

I bought a 3 pack of RFID sleeves for less than $5 and have all my chip and Pin cards in them at all times. We now can tap a machine to pay for purchases and I feel safer having the sleeve....For $5 or my hubby's $9 aluminum wallet, it is a small price to pay to feel safer.

Posted by
8995 posts

For me the RFID sleeves completely defeat the purpose of having a contactless card. I just put my PayPass card in my wallet with the rest of my cards and hold the wallet to the sensor, and the transaction is over in seconds. If I had a sleeve that would mean I would have to take the card out of the wallet, remove it from the sleeve, then do my thing at the credit card reader; at that point I might as well swipe it. The sleeves completely eliminate the convenience.

For me the convenience outweighs the risks of any kind of fraud (if it even exists). And even if some hacker did read my card it's the bank's problem not mine.

Posted by
285 posts

Is there any reason to use one of these RFID blocking sleeves with our "standard" American magnetic stripe cards? On the other hand, does it do any harm to carry magnetic stripe cards in an RFID sleeve/wallet?

Posted by
28128 posts

is there any reason to use one of these RFID blocking sleeves with our "standard" American magnetic stripe cards?

No

On the other hand, does it do any harm to carry magnetic stripe cards in an RFID sleeve/wallet?

Yes. It just wastes your money, enriches which is basically a scam artist - solving a problem which doesn't exist and taking your money into the bargain, and instilling warrantless fear in you, and slows you down when you want to use your card.

Posted by
4736 posts

Wrapping your card in a bit of aluminium foil will be sufficient, if you really want to.

Posted by
21859 posts

Photobear just woke up an old postings to beat up an old subject. As has been repeated many times - it is marketing hype to sell a product for a problem that really does not exist. But as someone said, " it is a small price to pay to feel safer." It is purely psychological. But if it makes you feel safer, then do it. And it is not the only irrational behavior we engage in to feel safer. After all it is always best to feel safer.

Posted by
8293 posts

It is sort of like believing in fairies.

Posted by
4684 posts

Frank, don't blame photobear. There was an earlier spam comment that reawakened the thread, that I reported and has now been deleted.

Posted by
754 posts

I am so sorry. I was not aware this was an old post. I had not gone looking for it. It was on page one when I saw it. I am so sorry.