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Money belt safety and TSA

Not sure if this is the right forum for this question; please forgive me if I am in the wrong spot. I have purchased a money belt for my trip to Scotland this fall. It has an RFID pocket to protect my cards from being scanned. I have worn it on some walks, and find it to be comfortable. My questions:

1) I assume you cannot wear a money belt through TSA security lines, so where do you put it? Tuck it into your carry on bag? And do you put it on right after clearing TSA or wait until you reach your gate?
2) When I get off the plane in Edinburgh and go to an ATM for cash (yes, I am thoroughly reading all the travel tips) do I immediately tuck it into the money belt, or should I look for a private area like a restroom to access the belt?

Sorry if these are stupid questions, but I have never traveled with a money belt before.
Thanks for your replies.

Posted by
5641 posts

Kathi, the TSA scanners will see the belt, so I put mine in my carryon, keeping an eye on it through the x-ray. I don't wear the belt on the plane anyway - I keep everything in secure pockets on my person. I put the belt on after we land and I've made it through immigration and no longer need my passport handy. I head for restroom to put the belt on. The belt is not intended to be used as a wallet, so should only be accessed in private to put things in our take out. Daily walking around, I keep in my pockets the cash I expect to use that day, and an ID. If I need a credit/debit card, I'll go to private place and take it out. Everything else stays in the belt.

Posted by
4450 posts

Hi, Kathi: I usually forget I have the money belt on, so I end up stripping it off as I'm standing in line for the peek-a-boo machine, and tossing it into the bins that go through the scanner. My DH puts his in his carry-on until we're through security.

I've been known to forget about the belt until I'm actually in the scanner, and have to take it off and hold it up as I get rescanned and/or patted down.

Go into the restroom to put the cash in the money belt. You can slip it discretely into your purse or other personal item until you get there. Think about what you would do if you didn't have the money belt - tuck the cash away without drawing attention to yourself, but guard the item until you can transfer the cash to your money belt.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
2147 posts

I wear a money belt--well, it's a belt-loop pouch that goes inside my jeans along my hip--and when I need to get cash I am prepared with my debit card already in my purse, once I have my money both the card and the cash go in a zipped pocket deep in my purse until I get to a private place to access the pouch. Depending on where I am and how soon I can get to a restroom I have also been known to stuff cash and card in my bra. My pouch is in my purse when going through TSA and I put it on right after that in the restroom--you really don't want to be fiddling with the belt in public.

Posted by
1698 posts

I think you're being a teensy bit overly cautious.

Keep your money and cards in your purse or wherever you'd put it when flying domestically. I prefer to take a small amount of currency with me ($100 or so in Euros or pounds). The service charge is worth the peace of mind. This gives me a day or two to get my bearings and choose where I want deduct from the ATM.

We rarely used cash on our last two trips to Europe. Almost everywhere takes a card, even the toll both on the Italian Autostrada! We also only used our money belts when in big cities like Florence or Rome. If you are going to spend time outside of Edinburgh and Glasgow, I wouldn't worry too much with a money belt. When we went to Scotland in 2002, we rarely bothered.

Learn how to practice situational awareness. That is your best defense. I hope you have a great time! Scotland is a wonderful place.

Posted by
208 posts

Interesting. The last time we flew (Toronto - Venice, October 2016), I put my money belt on at home before we left, and I never removed it until after we arrived in Venice. I didn't take it off going through Security at all.

I don't remember what I did when we returned (Rome - Toronto), but I'm pretty sure I wore it then, too. My small one is actually very comfortable. It only held money and extra credit cards, though -- my passport was in my PacSafe purse so it would be accessible.

Posted by
5641 posts

I've been through scanners where the TSA folks became apoplectic over the pocket lint that was showing up on the screen, so I take everything I can out and off.

Posted by
3444 posts

The key issue here is that the money belt in question has an RFID proof pocket in it. While I think this is overkill, since the only thing this would protect is credit cards that you can wave in front of the payment terminal and not standard chip & PIN cards (US passport have their own RFID protection built in), this may have a metal lining which is the simplest RFID protection. If so, this would definitely be seen by the scanners and possibly detected by the metal detector if you are lucky enough to go through that instead. Because of this, I would say to burry your belt in your cary on until through all security checks and then put it on in a private spot like the rest room.

I always use a money belt when traveling to Europe. Sure, I don't use one at home, but if my pocket gets picked here it is a simple inconvenience to get my items replaced. It would take around an hour to visit the driver license bureau to get a replacement and a few phone calls to get replacement credit cards delivered to my home. IF that were to happen on a trip where I am out of the country, I have no idea how disruptive it might be, but it sure wouldn't be as simple. So I use the money belt to keep things in. The one I have is not that uncomfortable and actually becomes unnoticeable after a couple days wearing it. And knowing that I can lose a few Euro through pickpocketing and still have my important items does help with the stress level.

Posted by
208 posts

Good point about the RFID protection, Mark. The one I wear does not have it, so maybe that was why I didn't have a problem while wearing it through Security.

Posted by
208 posts

Good point about the RFID protection, Mark. The one I wear does not have it, so maybe that was why I didn't have a problem while wearing it through Security.

Posted by
20970 posts

It depends on the screening. With a body scanner wearing anything extra gets their attention. I wear knee high compression stockings when flying and that always gets special attention. I guess they think I could be hiding something in the socks. Now with Pre-check it doesn't make any difference. If the zippers are plastic it will not show up on the traditional mag scanning.

Our standard practice is to pack the money belts in our carry on luggage. After landing we always hit a rest room to freshen up so at that time we put on the money belts. When we hit an ATM we want to spend a little time as possible in that area so we grab the cash, stuff it in a pocket and head for a water closet to load the money belt. Generally we try to time the ATM when we are returning to the hotel so we just go to our room.

The basic rule is that you never access your money belt in a public area - period. Some will wear a money belt just behind the belt buckle so that it functions more like a slightly hidden billfold. Remember -- the easier it is for you to get it will also be easier for someone else.

No, you are not being overly cautious. Just prudent and smart.

Posted by
4522 posts

Remember -- the easier it is for you to get it will also be easier for someone else.

This really isn't true. A pickpocket needs to be able to distract you and reach in to remove an item, like a wallet in a pocket or in a regular purse. Just because you can get to something does not mean the pickpocket can. Neck pouches and Packsafe bags are based on the fact that it is relatively easy to access by the user but not by a thief.

To Kathi - A waist money belt is generally worn more as a safe deposit with limited access. You store things in it during your day that would wouldn't generally need or only need access to a couple of times in a day. There aren't going to be pickpockets at the airport and on the plane; you wear it while out and about on your trip.

Waist money belts are hard to access if worn in the back, so generally you need to be somewhere private to partially undress and remove it. Hence, why it needs to serve as a limited access storage.

Posted by
8009 posts

I travel solo so I am perhaps overly cautious about my valuables.

I have a ziplock bag that I put my watch, FitBit, any jewelry I want to wear and my money belt in. Usually I load this ziplock up from home or if I am spending the night in a hotel close to my departure airport, load it the night before. I put this bag in my purse or other under the seat carry on and try to shove it to the bottom, then zip closed. After I clear security I go to the ladies room and don the money belt, watch, etc.

I also wear a small cross body wallet (Eddie Bauer Travex Connect) that is small enough to keep on comfortably overnight on the plane. I put my phone and Passport in this along with my day money for my arrival day - enough to pay for my taxi from the airport. The passport is accessible for Immigration without me having to dig in to my money belt. This way I also have the phone, passport and money with me when I have to use the airplane lavatory. I realize theft is probably low on an airplane but it makes me anxious to leave that at my seat. I stash the crossbody wallet in my zipped under the seat bag as I go thru security as well.

When I get money from an ATM I immediately put it in my purse, then head for a restroom stall to organize it in my money belt. Keep enough out to pay for a taxi or other transport to your hotel.

editing to add - I have the RS money belt which is not RFID and also go thru a very small airport with metal detectors not the nude-o-scopes so I could probably wear the money belt thru. I just try to make this a routine with the ziplock bag so I don't have to fumble when I return thru a big airport and need to have it off.

Posted by
2528 posts

I tuck my money belt into the zipped side pocket of my carry on bag to go through airport TSA checkpoint. I keep an eye on my bag as it's going through, and afterwards, to make sure no one is rummaging through my side pocket. As soon as I clear the screening, I take my carry on bag to the rest room into a stall, and put my money belt back on under my jeans.

To comment on Pam's last paragraph. If you are going through a small airport that only has metal detectors, you may be able to get away with wearing the money belt under your clothes. But I tried that once at Dulles Airport (which is not a small airport), and of course they saw it on the nude-a-scope. Made me take it off. Back in the carry on it went.

Never access your money belt in a public place. When you get money from an ATM, go to a private place, such as a rest room, and put it into your money belt. A private place can also be the dressing room of a department store, which is where I went one time to put money into my money belt--because the department store was right next to the ATM, and I was wanting to shop at that store anyway.

When you first get the money from the ATM, put it in your wallet, put wallet in front pocket, keep your hand glued to your wallet. In other words, hand jammed down into the front pants pocket, until you get to a private place. Then transfer the cash from wallet to money belt. Leave a small amount of cash in pocket or wallet for coffee, drinks, or taxi fare.

Posted by
24 posts

Thank you all so much for your very helpful comments. I have been to Scotland twice before, but in the Highlands - Inverness and north. I've not been to Edinburgh, and while it seems like a fairly safe city, I want to be secure while walking around.

Posted by
24 posts

I do have a neck pouch, but the one time I used it, it felt uncomfortable and it showed up under my tee shirt. I am taking it with me as an option.

Posted by
8009 posts

Kathi, I don't think anyone mentioned this but some wear the neck pouch cross-body so the bulk of the pouch is under your arm (or armpit as the case may be).

Posted by
704 posts

As you can tell from the above posts everyone has their own system that works for them, I used a money belt for 7 years of traveling in Europe and it never failed me but I found them uncomfortable so I found a different option. I use pants and shorts from Clothing Arts.com for the last 3 years and love them, they are designed with security features that keep your valuables from being pickpocketed. I'm leaving for the RS Greece trip in 2 weeks and I will take two pairs of the pants and 5 shirts ( all made from nylon) and plan on washing every 3td night, this system works very well for me. I have been through Rome, Barcelona and Paris, etc and have never had anything taken. Also, I differ from many on the Forum and take between 200-400 Euros with me so the first 2-3 days I don't have to worry about finding a ATM machine, especially when arriving at the airport at 8:00 am., tired and wanting to find my way to my hotel, I find it easier to get through immigration as soon as possible and get to my taxi or train. Just find a system that works for you and is secure so you can enjoy your time in Europe and not walk around paranoid all day. I'm not affiliated with clothing arts and anybody else, but I do like products that work.

Posted by
2661 posts

I follow along the lines of Pam and Rebecca. I like to have the money belt and my Bryant Baggallini bag on my person while on the plane, so I put it on after security in the lady's room. This plan gives me freedom. Until I'm thru security, they are in my underseat bag. I wear them on the plane so I do not have to worry about anyone looking thru my underseat bag for my valuables while I'm in the ladies room or walking around, forgetting or losing my bag. (My meds are also in my baggallini until I reach my destination.) I wear my money belt during transport internationally (I do not wear it in the US or Canada, although I bring one to Canada.) Whether I wear it during my stay depends on what I am doing. I wear it more when I'm traveling solo. I'm one of the few who wears a leg wallet, right under my knee. It is the most comfortable for me as I forget it is there. I don't travel in the heat of the summer (hate heat and crowds) and I don't wear skirts, shorts or capris so there are no issues. I wear straight leg or boot cut slacks/jeans. The few times I've forgotten it was on during transit, security has stopped me. Pre-911, I could wear it all the way through. I think the most important thing is to develop a system so you don't need to think. Just follow you system all the time and you know where all your most important items are located incase something stressful occurs, you won't need to think. I can get by without any of my luggage as the most important items are attached to me. When I don't use my money belt in location, then it is in my larger cross body purse, also attached to me in that case. I've even been known to put a list of what to do after security on my travel day page in my planner, so items end up where I want them to be...I am a planner. ;)

Posted by
490 posts

I keep my passport extra credit/debit card and large amount of cash in my under the clothes waist belt.

Then I use a palm sized coin purse, European style, for COINS, and a few small bills up to 20-30 Euros with metro tickets etc...
My credit card and daily cash go in my bra stash. I only use the style with longer straps, attach the strap securely on ONE side of my bra strap and tuck it into the bra on underneath my arm like a holster..it is so easy to reach in and take out my credit card and no one can grab it and run away...I never feel it...and it keeps me from worrying about any b.s. when I am traveling...

https://www.amazon.com/Womens-Design-Money-Sleeve-Travel/dp/B00WNFP2MG/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1494216141&sr=8-7&keywords=bra+stash+pocket

Posted by
490 posts

I keep my passport extra credit/debit card and large amount of cash in my under the clothes waist belt.

Then I use a palm sized coin purse, European style, for COINS, and a few small bills up to 20-30 Euros with metro tickets etc...
My credit card and daily cash go in my bra stash. I only use the style with longer straps, attach the strap securely on ONE side of my bra strap and tuck it into the bra on underneath my arm like a holster..it is so easy to reach in and take out my credit card and no one can grab it and run away...I never feel it...and it keeps me from worrying about any b.s. when I am traveling...

https://www.amazon.com/Womens-Design-Money-Sleeve-Travel/dp/B00WNFP2MG/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1494216141&sr=8-7&keywords=bra+stash+pocket

Posted by
1 posts

We just returned from Italy - Rome, Sorrento, Siena and Venice. Had no problems with pickpockets this trip or last one in Paris. I found 2 items that are far superior to money belts and all the other things you strap on. For women, they're panties with a zippered pouch in the front. Very comfortable, well made and very secure. I found them on Amazon. It held 2 passports and LOTS of euros. I also bought a bra that had deep side pockets where I stored 2 credit cards. I will never use anything else.

Posted by
12154 posts

I agree on using the neck pouch. It is much easier to access than the money belt I use the neck pouch. Of course, when I opt for a pat down instead of going through the peek a boo machine both the neck pouch and "hidden pocket" are not on me but in my jacket going through the scanner, after which when all this perfunctory business with the TSA is done, I put the neck pouch and hidden pocket on.

Posted by
11613 posts

Just a comment about thieves having to distract you: you are a tourist, you are already distracted! Cross body neck pouch works for me, when I wear one (which is seldom).

Posted by
362 posts

Bonus question for this thread:

If you're wearing a neck pouch, don't you worry that someone will see that under your clothes or around the neck of your shirt and simply make a cut and slip it off of you?

Posted by
12154 posts

Yes, that has concerned me too since wearing a light color shirt or a white shirt reveals the neck pouch. I have the strap covered by the collar of the shirt. "They" can see the neck pouch visible through the light color shirt but I have to be mugged first before they can take it off.

Posted by
4522 posts

If you're wearing a neck pouch, don't you worry that someone will see
that under your clothes or around the neck of your shirt and simply
make a cut and slip it off of you?

While cutting straps is not completely unheard of in Europe, it really isn't a serious issue and should filed filed under "way over thinking things" category. You don't need to carry around Fort Knox.

Posted by
208 posts

If you're wearing a neck pouch, don't you worry that someone will see that under your clothes or around the neck of your shirt and simply make a cut and slip it off of you?<<<<

Aquamarinesteph, I believe the point of their slashing the strap is so that the purse will fall off of you, freely, so they can grab it and run -- probably without you even noticing.

From what I heard, from a friend of mine, to whom this recently happened at the Trevi Fountain, is that her cross-body strap was slashed from behind her back, and she didn't notice until her purse started sliding downward in front of her. She caught it, and the theft was unsuccessful.

So, if your neck pouch is tucked inside your clothing, then cutting the neck strap wouldn't yield them anything, as the pouch would still be instide your clothing, inaccessible to them.

Also, I highly doubt they would risk cutting a strap that close to your neck -- they are not trying to hurt you, and there are lower-hanging fruit!

Nothing is completely full-proof. You're just reducing the odds of being an easy "mark", and allowing yourself to spend your energies just enjoying being a tourist, and not having to be hyper-vigilant to avoid being a victim.

Cheers,
Vivian

Posted by
5641 posts

you can also wear a neck pouch over one shoulder (pouch on one side) which makes the strap and the bulging pouch less visible.

Posted by
4766 posts

Kathi, it may make a difference if you don't check any luggage, and don't have a substantial personal-comfort carry-on like I do. But I keep an extra ziplock bag for just before USA security. That bag gets my watch, wedding ring (stanless-steel replica), pocket US change, facial tissue I always have for my nose, and anything like a belt pouch. Since they won't let you take your passport into the full-body scanner (the one where you raise your hands over your head) you don't need it on-you. And if this ziplock is zipped into your personal-comfort carry-on, it's pretty safe in the x-ray scanner.

I trust you know that the US TSA isn't involved with overseas airplane boarding, and you may find that there is no need to remove the belt-pouch, over there.

Your number 2 is a little worrisome. Pickpocketing is crime of opportunity. People are not stalking you throughout your trip. I would imagine that a crowded ladies room is just as "exposed", if not more so, than the concourse of the airport. While we do read stories (I mean real stories, not something that "happened to my best-friend's nanny's sister .... ) of bag slashings with motor scooters in cities, it just doesn't happen that thugs body-slam tourists in the airport and take cash out of their hands. Please relax andf enjoy your trip.

Posted by
12124 posts

I'm usually the one who advocates discussing as opposed to denying any problem exists, but I think this one is getting a tad overthought. Still, you should be comfortable when traveling so take a look at the products this company makes http://www.pacsafe.com/ I would could see myself putting all my cash in this before crossing the Charles Bridge in Prague
http://www.pacsafe.com/vibe-150-anti-theft-cross-body-pack/60161.html?dwvar_60161_color=100&cgid=bags-cross-body#start=1

I have used a money belt, and it works okay. The worst part is when you don't have restrooms around and you are in a city, and you need to pull money out, you have to obviously be reaching in your shirt. However, it is the safest way to have it against you. I personally don't like to use them as I found them inconvenient when I was in Peru for a month. I was really wanting to have a purse. I did some research and bought one of those security purses. I feel plenty safe using one of those. If you don't know what I am talking about, I did a youtube video discussing ways you can get pickpocketted, how you can prevent it, and then a little review on the security purse that I like the most for travel. Can't really post it here, but I'm happy to discuss it or provide information on where you can find the video.

Posted by
415 posts

For women, they're panties with a zippered pouch in the front. Very comfortable, well made and very secure. I found them on Amazon. It held 2 passports and LOTS of euros.

I wasn't sure if you were joking or not but I did find these on Amazon. But did you really carry your passport there and is it comfortable.

https://www.amazon.com/Barbras-Womens-Travel-Zipper-Panties/dp/B00K0WZ8UU/ref=cts_ap_1_vtp?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=2897711222&pf_rd_r=BWYN5RRSGWX8EJVDHA5F&pd_rd_wg=kUkmv&pf_rd_s=desktop-detail-softlines&pf_rd_t=40701&pd_rd_i=B00K0WZ8UU&pd_rd_w=Afhg1&pf_rd_i=desktop-detail-softlines&pd_rd_r=BWYN5RRSGWX8EJVDHA5F&_encoding=UTF8

Posted by
630 posts

I just read on a Facebook that Rick Steves was just a victim of pickpocketing - he admits he wasn't wearing his money belt.