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Mobile Wallet


What is a Mobile Wallet?

A mobile wallet is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a “wallet” that lives on your mobile device instead of in your back pocket.

So, why might you want one?

It provides a convenient way to pay for goods and services with your smartphone, smartwatch or another compatible device, like a tablet. It can manage all your credit cards, loyalty club memberships and reward cards, and it may help to reduce fraud, too, as mobile wallets are generally harder to steal or copy than physical cards and cash. You can access a mobile wallet through several smartphone apps. Many companies, like Apple and Android, offer versions of a mobile wallet. Most credit card issuers offer their own versions, too, making it easy to connect your cards and accounts. Before you download a mobile wallet to use, let’s take a closer look at how they work and why you might want to start using this payment method.

What are the benefits of switching to a Mobile Wallet?

  • Eliminates the need to carry around a wallet with multiple cards which could be a liability if your wallet or purse is stolen.
  • Allows you to pay for Point-of-Sale without pulling out your wallet in a retail location where you could potentially be targeted for theft.
  • Online payments are a breeze – when you are placing an order and don’t have your physical card or card number with you.  

How does it work?

This one’s simple: Start by downloading the mobile app of your choice onto your smartphone or another compatible device. Then, load the card information you want to store, from debit and credit cards to loyalty cards and even coupons. When you want to make a purchase with your mobile wallet, you can either:

  • Choose your app and select a card at the checkout screen when you’re shopping online with your smartphone.
  • Tap your phone to a digital payment-enabled terminal at participating merchants when checking out. “Mobile wallets use what is called a Near-Field Communication (NFC) chip,” Daniels explains. It’s the same technology that lets you use contactless payment to pay with a physical card

Where can you use your mobile wallet?

Many retailers offer updated payment-processing terminals that accept mobile wallets. Samsung Pay and Apple Pay, for example, are accepted at millions of stores in the U.S. By 2025, it is anticipated that 53% of eCommerce transactions will be completed with mobile wallets. Given how many merchants accept mobile wallet payments nowadays, when you add your Education First totalREWARDS VISA debit card or credit card, you can earn points for daily purchases and turn everyday expenses into big rewards, like cash back, travel, gift cards and more!* 

Popular Wallets:

PayPal -  Accepted widely online, but less frequently in physical retail stores.

Apple Pay - Transaction authentication via facial or fingerprint recognition make this a great option if you’re concerned about security.

Google Pay - Like Apple Pay, but for Android devices.

Samsung Pay - Available on some Samsung devices. 

Is a mobile wallet safe?

Information that you upload to a mobile wallet gets encrypted, making it potentially safer than carrying physical cards with you.

While a mobile wallet could pose potential security if your phone is lost or stolen, most mobile devices now offer two-factor authentication in the form of biometric identification which includes fingerprint identification or facial recognition.

Additionally, you can take extra steps to protect your data by enabling permissions that allow you to locate your phone if you lose it, or remotely wipe the data so a thief can’t access sensitive information or use your mobile wallet. Our Card Management feature also allows you to turn your debit card on or off, set geographic boundaries for use, and additional personalization options to add additional measures for you to ensure the security of your cards.

Many mobile wallets offer similar features and security measures. The right one for you depends more on personal preference and how you like to interact with your apps. It may also depend, of course, on which devices or credit cards you own. In terms of performance, there’s little difference between the leading mobile apps.

Bottom line

Mobile wallets may offer more convenience and security than traditional wallets. And they’re widely accepted at retailers around the country. Which mobile wallet you choose will depend largely on the kind of device you want to use it with. Don’t sweat the choice too much: Many of the popular options are similar in terms of performance and the level of security they offer, so you can choose the wallet that pairs best with your smartphone and use it with confidence.

For additional information, see our Mobile Wallet disclosure.

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