Keeping Your Cards With You Electronically

As I go through the cards I carry with me all the time, I obviously have the normal credit card stash (VISA, American Express, HSA VISA, etc), but I also have a small collection of other ID and rewards cards (Subway, Café Rio, driver’s license, Costco, etc). I usually carry 10 or so in total. But that’s not all of them. I have a special drawer in my desk at home that has the rest of those cards, and there are about 20 or so. When I through that larger stack of cards, I realize that it’s impossible to have them all with me at all times. Or is it?

Apple introduced it’s Passbook technology a few months ago with iOS 6. Long-term, I believe this will be a huge benefit to consumers in terms of reducing the need to carry so many physical cards with us. Unfortunately, not all vendors will participate, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s taking longer than it should for certain vendors to adopt this technology (yes, I’m talking about you, Delta and Café Rio).

While we wait for everyone to jump on board the Passbook express, I want to offer a temporary solution for you. This is something that I’ve been doing for 3 or 4 years now, and it works really well. There are four simple steps you will need to go through for each card you want to carry with you:

Step 1) scan the front (and back, if necessary) of each card (I recommend a minimum of 300 DPI resolution)

Step 2) Name the files appropriately (for example: “Delta - Front”, “Health Insurance - Back”, etc)

Step 3) Create a folder in your Dropbox account called “Cards” (if you don’t have a free Dropbox account, click here to get one)

Step 4) Move the image files into this new folder (and make sure you have the Dropbox app for iPhone)

Now, all of your cards are accessible wherever you are from your iPhone. This, of course, wouldn’t apply to those cards that are stamped by the vendor. Permanent ink on an iPhone screen usually isn’t a great idea.

Note: If you choose to keep sensitive cards with you in this way like I do, I strongly recommend ensuring that you have the “Find my iPhone” feature turned on (which also allows you to remotely wipe your phone if it’s lost or stolen) AND a passcode that automatically kicks in after not using your phone for a few minutes. Basic security measures, people. :-)

Posted on December 4, 2012 .