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Money Belt v. Neck Wallet

Hi Everyone -

I am traveling again after a too long hiatus. For past trips I always used a money belt for money, credit cards, etc. I have never used a neck wallet. Just was wondering which one you use (or something different) and why.

Thank you...

Posted by
10344 posts

This is one of the Forum's favorite subjects, so I'm sure you'll get plenty of posts on this.
But if you want, you can use the Search box above to find the one thousand posts we've had on this subject in the last couple of years.

Posted by
7966 posts

neck wallet for 17 years has always been more comfortable than a money belt;
but I'm done with that also. as of this year I just wear two shirts one with a passport size pockets underneath the other.

Posted by
2852 posts

I used the silk neck wallet because silk is more comfortable than synthetic. SIL used a black money belt that blended with her black plants. We both liked what we wore. So there is no right or wrong answer. Which ever is the most comfortable is the best for you.

EDIT: I wore my neck wallet cross body either tucked into the side of my leggings or at the small of my back. I removed the plastic slide adjuster because it cut into my skin and tied a knot low next to the wallet to adjust the length.
SECOND EDIT: I used a three tiered system recently in Italy that worked good for me, Top tier: Passport, ATM, back-up ATM and Visa cards and more than a day's worth of Euros were in my neck wallet. Second tier: Visa and €50-100 were in a RS zippered coin purse zipped inside my purse. Bottom tier: €50 and change were in a coin purse snapped to the inside of my secured purse for easy access. I always felt safe.

Posted by
2120 posts

I generally prefer the neck wallet, so I am not adding bulk around my waist. But, the neck wallet needs to be hid a bit, so I typically will double a scarf around my neck and tie it in the front....one of the really long scarves. I tend to travel with knit tops...turtlenecks in the winter, and long-sleeve light t-shirts in the summer (to provide a bit of protections to my arms). Knits will reveal the boxy neck wallet....especially if you put your passport in it (and I have one of the passports with the extra pages...seemed like a good idea at time, but UGH). Imagine seeing a woman with a big boxy -shaped bulge in front of her breasts.........not attractive and not discrete....LOL. LOVE it when it is jacket weather........hides everything :)

Okay, so what about really hot weather? Then, the scarf can be pretty miserable...even light airy ones. So, then I will often resort to the waist style.....but always with an extra safety-pin just in case.

My spouse (bless his heart) carries the bulk of the stuff in a neck wallet adapted to wear holster style under his shirt, and we then stick cash, passport(s), etc. in a plastic inner bag to keep them from getting totally wet....gross, I know, but that's life (especially in hot weather). We always travel with an extra one, so I can wash and dry the totally gross one and he does not have to put on something slightly wet the next day. In the winter, it is much easier (for both of us).

The negative of the waist wallet for women is accessing it....one has to go somewhere really private to pull the dress up (or unbutton the middle section to unzip and access....not as difficult if wearing a skirt or slacks.

Other than a beach vacation here or there (when we will..the rare times... trust hotel safes), we generally now try to avoid traveling in the heat of summer (for many reasons), so that helps with the neck wallet issue.

My advice....take both for flexibility.

My sister, who is a very good tailor, sews secure pockets into their travel clothing....that works.

Posted by
5837 posts

Silk neck wallet/pouch of the Rick Steves variety.

Comfortable and somewhat accessible without having to undress. It's a good size for passport and extra/back-up cards and even some cash.

I can carry my passport in the neck wallet while going through airport security check in, remove the neck wallet and passport putting it under my personal item messenger bag when sending it through the X-ray, then putting the neck wallet on and dropping it under my shirt on retrieval. What do money belt people do?

The neck wallet seems robust and I haven't had any strap breakage problems. If the strap broke it would only go down to belt level since I tuck my shirts under my belt. I suppose that if a money belt broke or became "unbuckled". you would feel it falling down a pant leg.

Posted by
9106 posts

I use both. If I'm just out sightseeing for the day I use the hidden-wallet style money belt. WHen in transit from one locale to another and I need to access things like passport and tickets then I use the neck wallet.

Posted by
7060 posts

They're not that expensive, I would buy one of each (if you don't have either) and wear each of them around for a day filled with whatever you would use them for, see which one feels best and works best for you. They both have their proponents because people are different and they like different things. Either will work to keep your stuff safe, it's usually a matter of comfort.

Posted by
2768 posts

Neither, generally. I don’t think they are needed most of the time. If absolutely necessary I go with a money belt though. Unless you wear only crew neck or collared shirts, the neck wallet strap shows. And unless your shirt is loose in general it looks lumpy on your stomach which is not very flattering. Perhaps a tall person with a longer torso could be comfortable, for a shorter woman the neck wallet doesn’t even fit in the space available! Between the bottom of a bra and the waist of pants is not that much space.

Again, this is individual based on body size and comfort. Try both (filled with your items, these things feel different when empty!) while wearing your travel clothes to see which works for you.

Posted by
5030 posts

DH has both the money belt and the neck wallet and wears either depending on the days activities. I prefer the neck wallet for comfort. I wear mine cross body with the pouch at my side and wrap the strap once around my bra strap. That way the strap doesn't show ( unless I try to wear a very low v neck).

Posted by
23418 posts

Personally I think a lot of people make a mistake in how they wear a money belt. It should be called a belt. We have worn them for years and find them very comfortable because we don't wear it as a belt, at the belt line, or as pouch in front -- some of the above complaints. We wear them fairly high above the waist in the small of the back just below the shoulder blades. Wife is the same. The strap is just under her bra line with the pouch in the middle to lower portion of her back. Even with a fairly tight blouse, it does not show. And it doesn't make her look fat. It is important how it is worn. I see a lot of males that will use the money belt as hidden billfold just behind the belt buckle.

Posted by
3240 posts

When I do use one, and it is becoming rarer, I use a leg wallet, which rests just below my knee, like the top of a knee sock. I don't travel in the summer and I usually have straight leg or boot cut slacks so works great and is comfortable and accessible. If I feel uncomfortable not using one, I might just pin a pocket to the inside of one of my clothing pieces. However, this is really only when I travel alone, during transport, and if I can't separate my items in a satisfactory manner. With my husband, between us, we have no worries about the unlikely event that one of us will lose our items as the other person has back up.

Posted by
37 posts

I use a neck wallet and tuck it into the front of my bra. Nothing shows even with my passport inside. It helps to be a little 'big busted' however....lol!

Posted by
996 posts

I have tried both. For me, both are very uncomfortable.

I walk around terrified that money belt (which seems to have a flimsy clasp to secure it) will come undone while I'm wearing it. Also, if it's very hot, I find that the money belt causes me to sweat more around the middle.

The neck wallet doesn't cause extra sweat, but there's no wear for me to wear it without it being visible. I've tried around the neck. I've tried wearing it like a shoulder bag under my clothes. It still shows as a great big outline. To me that's almost like wearing a big sign that says 'nervous tourist' for all to see.

Since I still have the neck wallet, I found another use for it. When I'm flying (during takeoff and landing), I shove my passport and phone (which won't fit into my pockets) into the neck wallet which I keep around my neck. That way if there is an actual emergency which requires evacuation, I have my most important things with me. Seconds count in those situations. While I'd leave my phone and passport behind in a purse or backpack during an evacuation, it's easier just to have them both to hand.

Posted by
3961 posts

I have gone back and forth between the silk money belt & neck wallet. Most recently I got a tip from RS to turn the money belt pouch around to my back and tuck in. More comfortable. If I wear the neck wallet I wear it crossbody and tuck the pouch into my skirt or pants. My husband prefers the hidden RS belt wallet for comfort. I think whatever is comfortable and secure is what's important.

Posted by
413 posts

You could also cut the strings off the neck wallet and diaper pin it inside your pants. This is what I take even though I leave it in the suitcase. It can also be pinned inside a purse when moving locations.

Posted by
79 posts

Eagle Creek Undercover Hidden Pocket. I cut off the loops and pin it horizontally inside the waistband of pants.

Posted by
7389 posts

My husband wears the Eagle Creek money belt; Cindy H provided the link above. He wears it as designed with the loop through his normal belt, and it hangs vertically along his leg. (He hated the waist one.)

I wear an old RS money belt around my waist. I don’t like anything pulling on my neck, so no neck wallet.

We are proponents of always wearing a money belt. We had an incident in a street in Bologna when I was busy capturing a perfect photo of an unusual sign. It was an empty street with none of the usual pickpocket characteristics. Luckily, we had finished lunch an hour before, so my husband only lost 10 Euro....and ended up with a story!

Posted by
3194 posts

Money belt, under my clothes.
I too wear it with the pouch in the small of my back, as it blends in better with my shape, and is way more comfy than at the front.
I have two; one with an elastic all in one belt part, and one with a belt part that has a clip.
I'm going back to using the elastic one, as I'm always afraid of the clip-closing one suddenly giving way and vanishing down the loo when I'm in there.....
Make sure you put your stuff in a Ziploc bag inside the belt, to avoid the paper valuables getting sweaty.

Posted by
2616 posts

Sometimes I use a belt loop pouch, and sometimes, shockingly, I don’t. I was just in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Hungary and kept my cash in my cross-body bag, including cards and passport. Some places seem more like you need extra precautions than others, I think.

Posted by
713 posts

I've often worn the Rick Steves money belt, or a quite similar one by Eagle Creek. But on my last trip I wore an expandable pouch designed for runners. It easily expanded to hold my passport, a few credit cards, and some cash. I wore it under my clothing, slightly above my waist with the pouch holding the goods in the back. It was chilly weather so I had a few layers on and the belt wasn't visible.

I found this to be more comfortable than the money belts. Instead of skinny stretchy straps and a fixed size pouch that's usually bigger than I need, this is a sleek single belt that doesn't twist when being worn, and the pouch part expands only as needed to hold the things I put in it. I'm not saying it's best for everyone, but it's working very well for me so far.

Posted by
602 posts

Similar to Connie, except with a money belt, I put mine into the front of my bra. I pin the money belt straps to my bra straps. This has worked for me for five trips. I don't even feel it throughout the day and nothing shows since I don't wear blouses with low cut necklines. I've even been able to discreetly (on a bus or train ride) reach into it, unzip the pouch, and retrieve my passport or credit card.

Posted by
11507 posts

Well I bring a money belt but rarely use it ,usually just in transit from airport or train station to hotel and usually only in places where pickpockets are more of an issue ( ie Rome , Paris , Barcelona etc ) .

Right now we are on day 8 of our holiday in Europe ( here till 21 st !!) and on island of Paros( Greece) after 6 days in Prague / haven’t put on belt yet . May do so when we arrive in Paris in a few weeks . Passports and extra cards have been put in hotel safe - which is what we usually do .

Love my cross body bag that has a zippered inner compartment , covered with a full length top zip , and a full flap that covers top zipper and clicks shut firmly . Phone and passports or extra cars go in inner pocket , room for small umbrella , lipstick , map , and even a small water bottle in main compartment

Posted by
1080 posts

I wear pants or shorts by Clothing Arts, which are pick pocket proof, I won't travel without them.
(I'm not affiliated with this company but I do like there products!)

Posted by
139 posts

I don't like money belts or neck wallets, instead I use the Eagle Creek Hidden Pocket, I also o pin it to my pants. The silk feels very nice on the skin.

Posted by
8586 posts

tangiergal, I think the neck wallet is more comfortable, but you need to wear a top that covers the strap around your neck and loose enough that the bulge is not visible. Otherwise its pretty easy to see that you have something on, and I would guess easier to snatch. You can also wear the neck wallet over the shoulder so the pack is under your arm.

Posted by
1259 posts

Reading through the replies, it seems you need to decide what you are trying to accomplish: security against grab-n-go, stealth, or accessibility to your cash and cards. All three cannot be accomplished with a single item.

I’m not concerned at all with stealth or fashion. I mean, everyone knows tourists wear a money belt; no point trying to conceal it, you just need to make it difficult to use for unauthorized fingers.

I prefer a neck wallet that I wear between layers. The tiny straps on these things require wearing a shirt with a collar to prevent chafing my neck. It holds my minimized wallet, sometimes passport, and larger local currencies. Everything else goes in pants/shorts pockets under a zipper or velcro closure. (Royal Robbins Active Traveler pants/shorts have a very secure zippered pocket hidden behind the belt. Usually holds my passport.)

Using the neck wallet requires lifting up my sweater or jacket so it’s not convenient at all but it’s also difficult to get into or to lift without me knowing. I’ve got smaller currencies in my pants for day to day transactions.

There are products not designed for tourists. Look for “speed belts” or “race belts”. They expand easily to hold larger phones, notebooks, wallets, passports, and the like. Colorful and super functional:

https://www.rei.com/product/137277/spibelt-large-pocket-spibelt-waistpack

Posted by
1501 posts

I suggest trying out several methods until you are satisfied.
I am not concerned about the visibility of my "wallet".
I wear a neck wallet with a cabled strap (can't be easily cut). I wear it cross-body like a purse under my right arm. In tight spaces I put it down the front of my shirt. Yes you can see the cable. Yes you would have to put your hand way down the front of my shirt or way up the bottom (I wear longish tunics). A mugger would get my stuff for sure, but so far not a pick pocket.
I put it on before I leave the hotel room and it stays put until I am back for the night.
I keep money, cards, passport. It has a deep zippered pocket for the passport, would have to go through a folded over flap that is fastened, into the inner pocket and then through a zipper to get to my passport.
I feel safe with this method.

Posted by
14580 posts

I use both at the same time...the neck pouch and the hidden pocket both by Eagle Creek.

True, in hot weather in the summer having the neck pouch on does become uncomfortable. When that happens, I either put up with it, ie keep it on anyway, or just use only the hidden pocket.

When using both, cash goes into both, ie reserves.

Posted by
30 posts

I'm switching to a neck wallet for our next trip to Europe. I had an weird experience last summer when I was going thru security in London before boarding the Eurostar to Paris. My underwire bra set off the metal detectors and as I was being patted down, they felt my money belt and lets just say, the security officer freaked out a bit. She made me take off my dress,(in front of god and everybody). Needless to say, standing in my bra in front of a line full of strangers was not fun. At least we have another funny story to tell about our fabulous trip through Europe.

Posted by
2120 posts

For the person who just posted:
It is our standard practice to take off our money belts (neck/holster type/whatever) because ANYTHING had has bulk that is hidden under your clothing can definitely freak out security screeners.
Usually the two of us travel together:
1) first person thru gives money belt to the next person to go thru.
2) once first person is thru, then the second person shoots the bin with BOTH money belts thru
3) first person is there standing to grab the bin as it comes out the x-ray thing
4) we install the neck wallets around our necks

5) spouse wears one of the neck wallets holster style once on the ground in distant location, but not on the plane going to distant location...wears just around his neck under his shirt on the plane. Restroom on location is where it is shifted (while I watch all the carry-on for him)

We are TSA pre-check and Global Entry, but we STILL take off our money belts, just in case. And, of course, even with those designations, there are randomly designated boarding passes under which those with the special designations get the deeper security check.

P.S. you can always leave your money belt on and request a manual pat down.....often done in a private room.

Pretty unbelievable you had to stand there with your bra showing......makes me wonder what would have happened if you were not wearing a bra.....LOL!!! Seems they would have taken you to a private room with your belongings..that is standard operating practice in the US.

If you travel as a solo act, I would suggest telling the screeners you do not want to put your money belt thru until you are certain you can grab it immediately on the other end...easier said than one, but sometimes they can be kind and understanding.

Posted by
288 posts

I simply cannot stand using either. Similarly, I have never been in a situation where I have felt it was needed over other basic safety measures that I take in any North American city.

After spending a few trips futzing with an Eagle Creek neck wallet (the money belt got thrown away in the middle of an earlier trip), I have gone to a Waist pack with a shoulder strap. I have used a Mountainsmith lumbar pack and currently a Bihn Co-pilot. Both are easy to carry and I can simply carry them in front of my body in subways and crowds. In most cases, I look like a typical middle aged man going to work.

I have never had any incidents or attempted thefts but I attribute this to situational awareness. The only time I saw some possible pickpockets outside a Rome station, I simply walked a good twenty feet around them while maintaining eye contact and smiling.

Posted by
3521 posts

I use a money belt. I wear it with the pocket in the small of my back. It is never accessed in public. Also, it is always the silk one. The synthetic costs less and does exactly the same thing, but I find the material uncomfortable against my skin all day. My passport and all cash I have in my money belt are each kept in small zip lock baggies so that sweat does not damage them. Also have backup credit and debit cards in the belt. I don't keep anything else in the money belt. As the trip goes on, I will rinse out the money belt before going to bed if I have experienced an extra sweaty day. Feels better the next day as the silk dries quickly.

I keep my daily spending money and one debit/credit card available for use during the day elsewhere.

Some people use the money belt as a fanny pack, or a pack as a money belt. Not the correct use of either. No reason not to have both if that is what you want, but use each for its intended purpose. The pack is way too easy for someone to grab and run with it, so I would never keep anything of value in it.

Posted by
14580 posts

If the weather is not too, too hot, obviously, it will be in the summer, I use all three..the neck pouch, which would be the first to go if it really got too sticky and sweaty, the "hidden pocket," (which is a must-carry), and also the Eagle Creek fanny/waist belt, a must-carry too, just wouldn't feel right without having it on. In all three is cash, along with the wallet. But "they" don't how much, could be 30-50 Euro or even in excess of 500 Euro.

Basically, you size up the situation where you are, and don't look or act clueless, oblivious to one's immediate surroundings as I've seen too many Americans do. .

Posted by
292 posts

I'm team "no money belt" in most circumstances. I really only use one when I have to move "larger" amounts of cash (for me, anything it would really hurt to lose), and then only until I can get rid of that cash.

I used a money belt when I was moving back to the States from France and had the entire contents of my French bank account on me (granted, I was young, so it wasn't really THAT much money!). I've carried larger amounts of cash in a "belt" in Nicaragua when I knew I couldn't use a credit card for a specific larger purchase, as well as in Morocco since many riads take cash payment only. In those cases, I've got what is technically a Rick Steves neck wallet that I actually wear around my waist and put the pocket under my pants. Once I've made that payment, I liberate myself of the (usually sweaty) bag and go back to a purse or small backpack.

Posted by
602 posts

We generally don't put our money belts on until we arrive at our final destination airport. They stay in our personal carryon item until then. We need to use the restroom anyway, most times, so it works out fine.

Posted by
1194 posts

People claim that accessibility is a problem with a money belt. It’s clear these people don’t know how to use money belts.

Money belts are to be worn in conjunction with a working wallet. A working wallet is a small wallet with money for the day inside of it.

You never access the money belt in public. Instead, you go to the working wallet. If you need more money then you go into a private place and transfer money from the money belt to the working wallet. But only the working wallet comes out in public.

Posted by
23418 posts

Cindy I agree with you but unfortunately it is called a money "belt." That implies it is worn as a belt -- around the middle. It should be called a money pouch but it is a losing battle. We wear them all the time and find the comfort level high. It is second nature for us but obviously many object to wear them. So be it.

Posted by
14580 posts

I put on the "hidden pocket" and the neck pouch once I clear the TSA folks by ducking in to the first WC to do that. So, when I go for the "pat down" option, the guy is not going to see/feel and ask about these two pieces.

Posted by
6 posts

A big thank you to everyone who contributed to this forum topic. You guys gave me a lot to think about. I think I am going to stick with the money belt for day to day and maybe use the neck wallet for airport stuff.

Posted by
101 posts

I've got a money belt that I've had for years and I don't believe is available any more. The brand is "coconuts". It has an adjustable length strap with a tiny steel wire in it so it can't be cut. It can be worn around the waist, neck or "cross shoulder". It also has a belt loop so it can be worn on front of the thigh secured by a regular belt. The strap can be removed for use in this mode. I use it this way most often.

I'll echo what others have suggested - I keep a credit card and small amount of cash outside of the wallet for day to day use. Everything else (passport, main cash supply, additional credit cards, etc.) stays in the wallet and doesn't come out in public.

Posted by
1221 posts

a Bihn Co-pilot.

If you want to make a TB Co-Pilot more secure, I discovered on our recent trip that putting a folding umbrella on top of anything important in the main compartment in it makes it quite hard to get anything out of there without extracting the umbrella first because it requires a bit of wedging to get the umbrella in. I felt like it'd discovered The Club for that bag.

Posted by
3 posts

I recently returned from a trip to Europe last month, and I use a combination of a silk money belt and a small silk neck pouch That is supposed to be hooked or snapped to the center of your bra. The money belt was used to hold my passport, My emergency contact numbers, the bulk of my cash, and my backup ATM and credit card. I wore the belt at my back under my pants and it was undetectable and secure. I did not access it during the day, I did transfer a small amount of cash out of it for each days usage.
Instead of snapping it to the bra, I attached the small silk neck pouch by Eagle Creek to a sturdy necklace and tucked the pouch under my shirt into my center of my bra. I would pull it out as needed. I was very comfortable with my system, both physically and mentally.

Posted by
19146 posts

For my first RS trip to Europe in 2000, I purchased a money belt. I tried it at home before I left, and I didn't like the feel, so I also got a neck wallet to take along. I started out with the money belt, but by the time I got to Europe, I was using the neck wallet, and I've never looked back.

Posted by
1321 posts

I have a neck wallet but honestly I rarely use it... I did by a new travel scarf with a hidden pouch/zipper .... it's nice to wear when the weather is cool but it can be slightly heavy depending on what I put in it. I don't carry much in public and I have an iPhone cover with a wallet so most everything goes in there.