WalletCards on my iPhone


Recently I read a post on slimming down your wallet (via Lifehacker). As many of you I had my wallet filed with membership and other reward cards from the local hardware store the grocery shop and the rest of it. Some cards used regularly some used only once a year.

As mentioned in the post from the unclutterer most of the companies only need the number from the card. The magnetic strips are hardly used and the barcode is just a store for the number. So instead of writing down the numbers I scanned in the cards -front and back side- and stored them as images on my iPhone.

To test it out I went to the local hardware store and asked the girl behind the counter if she could scan the barcode from my phone. The first look I got was pure amazement. To her the physical card was transformed into a picture on a shiny device. On top of that the barcode was scanned successfully. The result; a slightly confused girl and a happy me.

The cards are stored as images in an iPhoto album that is synced with my iPhone through iTunes. Newly scanned cards are stored in the album and are automatically synced. When asked for the card I pull out my phone and open the “card” in full screen mode.


For iPhone Touch the same routine should work and it probably also works for an iPod with photo capabilities.

In my case I used my Mac to sync but this should also work on a Windows situation.  

Now my wallet only contains three cards, credit card, debit card and the donor registration.

15 thoughts on “WalletCards on my iPhone”

  1. Hee Albert, I did the same trick on my Ipaq HP4700. I stored the scanned cards as jpg’s and with my photo album reader I can display cq show them. So its 1-1 again in the everlasting Apple-WinSoft contest, hahaha.

    Greetings, Ruud

  2. Ruud, they say that plagiarism is the best compliment, so thanks 😉

    But anyhow I’m glad it works in your setup. The idea is just to good not to be shared. I showed it to several people now and even my mother-in-law became enthusiastic about the idea not having to cary around her cards anymore.

  3. @Mohammed – The credit card companies will say we were negligent in our responsibilities. Best to read the terms and conditions as put forth by the card companies. It would be VERY easy to compromise such a system and wind up with THOUSANDS of dollars of fraudulent charges the consumer has no way of backing out of being responsible for.

  4. The credit card is not scanned and stored on my phone. My debit card uses the magnetic strip and a PIN code so it is not replaceable by an image. It’s only the membership and reward cards that are stored.
    If they would fall into the wrong hands well they would get a discount for a product they bought so not a big issue. The amount of cards went down from 14 to just 3 for me this works out fine and I don’t see a security risk.

  5. I’m not aware of a single rewards card that is not connected the card holder’s phone number. I don’t carry any rewards cards with me. When they ask me for my card I have them enter my phone number in.

    This is a cool idea and it’s neat that the barcodes can be scanned from the iPhone – but all of this seems unnecessary.

  6. @Ed

    Just playing devils advocate here, but not all stores have the capabilities to lookup your card by phone number. Also as a cashier, I have to say that it can really annoy you when 1. someone has you go to more work that its worth, and 2. they want you to.

    Haha, anyway it is a great idea and I really want to try it myself!

  7. I’ve though about doing this before – back on my monochrome Palm Pilot actually. It’s a great idea in theory, but it really depends on the kind of cards you have in your wallet. I just went through mine and the only cards I’ve got that don’t require swiping are my REI card and gym card. The gym card is given to someone at the front desk when I check in, and retrieved when I leave, so that’s not going to work, and it’s not really worth doing for just my REI card.

    Everything else is magnetic strip (credit cards, Safeway card), RFID (Zipcar), or punch 🙁

  8. Dumb Idea. I bet 75% of the store wont accept this so called "image". And like someone mentioned, you give the phone number they will look you up. But nice way to get some hits and comments. What next, scan a dollar bill?

  9. Great idea. I’m gonna give this a try. I just bought a new wallet, and it doesn’t seem to have as much space as the old one, so I had to pull a lot of stuff out of it. But I always have my iPhone with me, so this is a great idea, if it works.

  10. Albert,
    Is there a trick to this? I’ve not had a single positive result. None of the scanners have been able to recognize the barcode. What dpi/resolution did you scan at?

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