Unclutter your wallet by keeping a second wallet in your glove box

Almost every retail store or restaurant I frequent has some kind of loyalty program. The benefits are usually compelling enough to convince me to join, even if it means I’ll be stuck with yet another club card. In the past, I’ve tried consolidating bar codes on a single card. Unfortunately, I’ve found that over the last few years an increasing number of these loyalty program cards have magnetic stripes on them. As a result, I’m forced to carry the actual card with me in order to use it.

Instead of keeping all of these loyalty cards in the wallet I carry with me everywhere, I keep them in a second wallet that stays in the glove box of my car. I live in the suburbs, so it would be unusual for me to be at a store or restaurant where I might need one and not also be in close proximity to my car.

This approach keeps my primary wallet slim, as the only cards I keep in it are my drivers license, my credit card, and my health insurance card.

54 Comments for “Unclutter your wallet by keeping a second wallet in your glove box”

  1. posted by Adventure-Some Matthew on

    I gave this very advice to a friend just a couple of weeks ago.
    Fortunately, I only have 1 rewards card, and it fits easily on my keychain (along with my library card). If I had more, however, they’d be stashed in my glove box.

    Also in my glove box is the coupon envelope. I don’t use them all the time, so when I do need one, it helps to have them near-by. Even if I forget to grab it before I go into the store, I can easily run back out and get it from the car before I have to pay. (My wife goes shopping with me, so they don’t think that I’ve abandoned my cart.)

  2. posted by Brenda A. on

    I love this idea. I made a second keychain for loyalty cards that can go on a keyring, but wasn’t sure how to organize the other cards. Thank you!

  3. posted by Oracle on

    I loved the idea! I was only concerned about whether the wallet will hold up in the glove box in an extremely hot place like Arizona. Do you have any suggestions for this? Thank you!

  4. posted by Sandman on

    You can just scan in a picture of the barcode and keep it on your cellphone. This will work with about 90% of the gun type barcode readers.

  5. posted by Another Deb on

    @ Oracle, I keep my cards on a keychain and they do just fine in my car in Phoenix all summer. Even if you wanted to use the full size cards, you can punch a hole in the non-magnetic portion to add the card to a keychain.

  6. posted by Damsel on

    If you have an iPhone, get the cardstar app. It holds all my barcodes and now I don’t carry any of those cards. The merchant simply scans the barcode on my phone. Two caveats: you can’t use one of the mirrored screen protectors, and I always ask the cashier to use the hand-held scanner so that I don’t hand them my phone. I’ve never had a problem!

  7. posted by CM on

    I have a second wallet too (actually, it’s designed to be a business card case, not a wallet). I don’t always drive, so I just keep it in my purse, but it’s not as accessible as my main wallet. (I also have a mini-purse with just the main wallet, phone, keys, a pen, and lip balm that I can grab and take with me when I don’t want the big mom bag.)

  8. posted by beth on

    I keep all my ‘loyalty’ cards on a seperate keyring, so the one I carry regularly isn’t too heavy. The keyring is a small carbiner, so I can quickly snap and unsnap the ring of cards and latch it to my purse or totebag when I go in the store.

  9. posted by beth on

    or beltloop

  10. posted by kllycat on

    Another Deb- the idea of keeping all the cards on a keychain by punching holes in them is genius!

  11. posted by rrr on

    @oracle – I live in Dallas and have to park my car out in the sun all summer long and I haven’t had any problem with storing the cards in a business card case in my glove box.

  12. posted by David Engel on

    I’ve carrying a second wallet in the car for about two years. I wouldn’t go back – but it can be frustrating if the family is traveling in my wife’s car instead of mine.

  13. posted by Blake on

    I’ve been doing this for a while only I keep it in my bag.

  14. posted by Lesley on

    I agree with Damsel above. Forget the extra wallet. Use your phone. There’s an app called KeyRing for androids and iphones. You can take a picture of your cards, and it will convert the photo into a barcode. Much faster and easier, and less clutter!

  15. posted by Kay Chase on

    One could also keep the “grocery” loyalty cards attached to ones reusable grocery bags.

    (E.g., punch a hole and clip to a key ring, and fasten the key ring to the bag.)

  16. posted by April on

    I second the CardStar app – you have to turn up your screen brightness for scanning.

  17. posted by Erin Doland on

    As PJ explained in the post, the phone apps do not work for the loyalty cards that use magnetic stripes instead of bar codes.

  18. posted by Dawn F on

    My husband stores all of our loyalty cards on his Android phone (he loves that App) and I keep all of our actual cards on a simple round keyring in the bottom of my purse – that way both of us can use the loyalty programs whether we are together or shopping alone.

    We love the savings and our uncluttered method (storing on phone and simple keyring) makes it super easy!

  19. posted by Elaine on

    Most loyalty programs will furnish you with one or more wallet cards and one or more minis that you put on a keyring. My husband and I are the perfect couple for this: He much prefers wallet cards, which is fine but sort of irrelevant because he rarely shops anywhere. I like the keyring version.

    Keeping anything in the glove compartment isn’t something I’m too keen on. I’ve had plenty of things stolen from there, including my very best pair of … leather gloves!

  20. posted by Alex on

    I actually have two wallets for this very reason. One of those ‘ultra-slim’ wallets for the club cards and a regular wallet for credit cards, money and my license.

    If I know I won’t be going out to a place where I’ll need the club cards, I leave the mini wallet at home.

  21. posted by C Bennett on

    Most places I have a loyalty card will happily look up my card if I give them my phone number. I have asked cashiers, just to be considerate of their time, and they say it’s no more trouble for them to do the phone number. At the grocery store I just punch in my number before I swipe my credit card. I carry no cards and get all the benefits.

    Or, if you’re like my husband, you can memorize the serial numbers of all the cards. He’s a nerd. Though of course that wouldn’t work for magnetic-stripe ones.

  22. posted by Katie on

    No need to do even this.. Stores will offer the discount if you give the phone number associated with the card at checkout. Just toss those silly cards!

  23. posted by Anita on

    This is a good solution for your situation, PJ. And by that I mean living in a suburb, which makes driving to most places a requirement.

    My schedule tends to change throughout the day and I don’t drive (I live downtown and my city has a great transit system), so I keep everything in one wallet. The way I keep it uncluttered:

    1. Get the right wallet for your needs. For me, this means one with enough card slots for all the cards I carry with me, a space for bills (that bills actually FIT into — random pet peeve of mine), and a large change pocket (which also holds my bus tickets).

    2. Evaluate each membership/loyalty/rewards program before joining, and limit the number of cards you have to only stores/restaurants that you love enough and go to often enough for it to be worth the effort.

    3. Don’t carry cards for any stores where your file can be accessed by other means. Most places I’m a member of can get to my rewards account through a name or phone number query, so there’s really no point in carrying the card with me.

    4. Go through your wallet regularly to weed out any expired or unused cards, and re-evaluate the programs you’re part of to see if they still make sense for you. I try to do this every couple of months.

    I don’t have an ‘ultra slim’ wallet, but it’s also not huge or overstuffed, and it fits into even the smallest of my purses. Works for me.

  24. posted by KateNonymous on

    Like Katie, I use my phone number instead of carrying all of the cards. The only trick is that it’s not always easy to update your phone number in loyalty card records, which means I have to remember which phone number is associated with which card.

    By the way, sometimes there are reciprocal programs. This morning I saved 10 cents a gallon on gas because the station apparently has an arrangement with my grocery store’s loyalty program.

  25. posted by Francis on

    I’ve been using this “ogon” wallet for years now as my only wallet. (except coins)
    I just love it.
    I discovered and bought it at “Ile de Ré” in France in 2007.

  26. posted by chacha1 on

    This one kind of mystifies me. I think it makes sense to keep all the rewards cards in once place, but do they really need to be available at a moment’s notice?

    Instead of carrying around all the rewards cards, I plan where I am going and know which card(s) I might need on that given round of errands. The only ones I keep in my wallet are CVS (drugstore) and Ralphs (grocery) because those are the only two places I’m likely to stop on a weekday.

  27. posted by Jay on

    Good post.

    The second “wallet” does not even have to be a wallet. A small mesh bag or ZipLoc-type plastic bag might be sufficient.

  28. posted by JessieJack on

    Now this is a brilliant idea!

  29. posted by infmom on

    I have yet to find a loyalty card program that does not accept your phone number as an alternative to carrying around the actual card.

  30. posted by Ethiope on

    Most of the places I shop include a keychain version of the card with the full-sized card, so I just have a separate keychain with all of the shopping cards on them in addition to some infrequently used keys. My other key chain has my car, house and bike lock keys on it and that’s it. I’ve found that only about 2 or 3 cards have come without the keychain card, and I have ample room in my wallet for those.

  31. posted by Nancy on

    Rhoda of ’70s TV fame said that her car was a a purse on wheels. Keeping the seldom-used items in the car allows me to carry a small purse with credit card slots and a pocket for cash. It beats the heck out of lugging around a separate wallet and checkbook (remember those?)

  32. posted by Lee on

    This is a wonderful idea.

    I would probably keep mine in the car in the “emergency baggie” with the little packaged wipes (from the barbeque carryout restaurants) and bandaids.

    The other option would be in a small zipper bag that has some odd items that I sometimes need – tape measure, purse holder, etc). i usually put it in the glove compartment if we will be walking, as it does add weight to the bag. I hate having things in my car and needing them when I’m in my husband’s car.

    We use the phone # at CVS and PetsMart. After we moved, my husband asked someone at CVS to change the phone number, but after almost a year, it hasn’t been changed. At least we remember the old number.

  33. posted by Leonie on

    Given the fact that most if not all reward programs can identify you by the phone number provided, why not toss out the cards? one less thing to keep track of?

  34. posted by James on

    I’m surprised no-one’s mentioned the possibility of just not joining reward programs. The reason they’re so prolific has to be that they increase revenues for the supplier. Chucking out your reward cards means less to carry around, less defining yourself by the brands you buy, and less stuff consumed, which is surely the true spirit of uncluttered-ness! 🙂

  35. posted by Andrew on

    The only problem I can see is that you’re in a real pickle if someone decides to steal your car.

  36. posted by Laetitia in Australia on

    I too have a second ‘wallet’ that has my loyalty cards and other things like library card. I stays in a separate compartment of my bag that holds my wallet as my car is not always nearby. The cards I use most often / are more important in an emergency are in the regular wallet.

    Because this card holder is an item in its own right, it hasn’t made my purse any smaller (in fact, it’s made it larger). However, at least I don’t have to hunt through a dozen or more other cards trying to find the ones I use most often.

  37. posted by Jimmy Cracked Corn on

    This idea, as well as many of the suggestions, just takes too much time and effort. My somewhat-attempt-at-minimalism path has me valuing my time over all else, because the things that I own start to own me and I resent it. The time and thought that would be involved to buy a second wallet, make sure it’s in the car I’m driving, and then to make sure to remember it when I go into a store would just piss me off.

    My answer to store club/loyalty cards is to refuse them. I even go so far as to tell the manager that if they really aren’t going to give me the lower price without their card that I will not shop there again. Then, depending on their attitude, I will follow through with that promise. I’m sick of these stupid pieces of plastic and I want NOTHING to do with them.

  38. posted by JustGail on

    My view is unless it’s someplace you do a LOT of business with and it really saves a bundle, don’t join. I’m not really interested in handing over any more information about myself just to save a few dollars a year. I don’t know about others, but for me, those rewards cards just encourage me to buy more that I really don’t need, costing more not only in money, but space.

    Speaking of handing over information, does anyone know what’s on those cards? As in, if stolen, are you further opening the door for identity thieves? If they can steal information off credit and debit cards at ATMs with a scanner, they certainly could get information off the loyalty cards.

  39. posted by s on

    @Andrew, it’s not such a “pickle” if your car or cards are stolen. I don’t think you can generall pull the ID information from the barcode or mag stripes. I think you’d have to have access to the store’s database. In any case, I’ve moved a bunch of times. At this point, I have no idea which phone/address goes with which card. I carry them on a separate key chain and just appreciate the discounts (when I remember to use them).

    Also, I got a card with a mag stripe recently. It also had a barcode on the card. Rather than carry the large card, I cut around the barcode, with room to punch a hole, and just added it to my key ring. The store can read either the mag stripe or the barcode, so I’m set.

  40. posted by Sally on

    I tend not to join loyalty programs not only because of the card clutter, but because they put you on mailing lists and then you get more paper clutter! I wish I could save the money while also saving the trees, though!

  41. posted by gypsy packer on

    Use a disposable e-mail box to join loyalty cards programs. Then use either an app or a folder in your “photos” file to store scans of the barcodes on the cards. You can also use an app which encodes and stores photos to scan and store credit card numbers on front-and-back photos.
    Thieves notoriously break into glove boxes, looking for guns–or is that only a problem with pickup truck owners who have to replace glove box clasps constantly?

  42. posted by JustGail on

    I should have added – a separate wallet, envelope or baggie is a good alternative for those who don’t have smart phones. At least then you have the choice of leaving them out or taking them with you as needed.

  43. posted by Hakapes on

    I have implemented your idea.
    Works great!
    Many thanks!

  44. posted by LIz I. on

    I’ve been doing this for years–a very old, very small Fossil wallet in the dashboard storage of my car. In it are rewards cards, all my medical cards, other cards I rarely use but need from time to time, and a checkbook for those pesky places that only take cash or checks.

    For those who pooh-pooh the idea of rewards cards, I have three tax-exempt and discount cards I MUST provide to suppliers so having them accessible is essential.

    My working “wallet” is a Jimi: hangs around my neck and holds a cash card, my University ID/charge card, my drivers license, a check and a few bills.

  45. posted by Rose @Dozenroses13 on

    I think if people consider something the size of a credit card clutter- well I’d love to see their homes. I bet then sleep on the floor with a blanket and no pillow – because something as huge as a mattress would surely be considered clutter right??

    I keep my loyalty cards, library cards, etc. in a business card file that keeps 3 cards on a page. It fits easily in the bottom of my purse.

    As much as I like just giving my phone number to the cashier, I’ve run into the issue where in some stores they need a manager to override it which takes time.

    I also use the same file to keep punch cards for places that put holes in the cards with every purchase. These types you can’t use your phone number to look up.

  46. posted by Rose @Dozenroses13 on

    Oops – I bet they – not I bet then…. typo!!

  47. posted by brenda on

    Surely that requires taking an entire vehicle with you when going out? I’d rather take my satchel and jump on the next bus.

  48. posted by Jimmy Cracked Corn on

    @Rose: It definitely isn’t the SIZE of the rewards cards that clutter me, it’s their existence and the effect that that has on me mentally. I don’t want to feel like I need to remember them. I definitely don’t want to make them a special home, because then I’m allowing a tiny plastic rectangle to steal my time and cost me money (for the wallet, if nothing else). My house is VERY cluttered, but I’m attempting to be on a path to take back my time and sanity by ridding myself of unnecessary things that steal minutes from my life. If refusing a store card costs me 10% of a $20 purchase two or three times a year, I can live with that. At least I’ll know for sure that they aren’t tracking me and won’t send me junk mail or junk e-mail.

  49. posted by Leonie on

    @ rose

    it’s not the size of the credit card but how many you have. A friend had her purse stolen (she left it foolishly inside her car in plain sight). she has 18 credit cards (yes…wow!) – that’s when I learned that you can get credit cards from stores ie Sears, Victoria secret etc…so some “reward” programs are actually credit cards in disguise.

    It took her several hours to cancel her cards. As for her house – yes it was very cluttered.

    Basically her entire lifestyle was symptomatic of a person out of control and out of sync with reality.

    I have 2 credit cards that I use – I don’t carry much cash, and it tends to be the wrong currency – to track all my expenses which are then paid in full at the end of the month, an employee ID card, my insurance card, my driver’s license and my library card.

    At one point, I had over 14 reward cards! and after my friend’s experience, I emptied out my wallet and carried only the bare essentials. Now, whatever discount I want at the book store or grocery store, I use my phone number.

  50. posted by Sandy on

    Great idea! I use an iPhone, so I have the Key Ring app that allows me to have all the barcodes on my phone. I keep the cards themselves on a key chain hidden in my car. The cards have held up fine in the Texas summer heat, and I don’t have to carry the whole slew of them with me everywhere!

  51. posted by Zac on

    I gave up on reward cards if they require me to carry a card. The wallet clutter was too much and a second wallet just doesn’t seem like a great idea to me. If they don’t take a phone number, I’ll either take my business elsewhere or pay the “convenience fee”. Incidentally, I don’t use my current phone number for these things to protect my privacy. No need to announce your number in public every time you make a purchase.

    @Rose, I don’t think of a credit card by itself as clutter, but ten rewards cards (even the small ones) for the hardware store, pet shop, grocery store, vitamin shop, gym, etc etc starts to weigh down a wallet. As a guy, I elect not to carry a purse and I like to keep my wallet slim.

  52. posted by Marie on

    As far as giving up personal info and worrying about theft, I have always used my old college dorm as my address and my office fax machine as the phone number. I’m not hassling anyone with unneeded calls, and I don’t care who overhears me recite it to a clerk.

  53. posted by Manja on

    You keep your cards in your car, and you take your car to the centre of your city.

    Where I live (the Netherlands), taking a car to the centre of the city makes the car an expensive unitasker. Parking fees everywhere… Fortunately I can go by bike from my outskirts to the centre. Just one drawback: no glove box. On the bright side: having to bring your shopping home by bike definitely cuts down buying too much clutter. You just can’t take it home 😉

  54. posted by Wendy on

    I carry a bunch of key tags for loyalty, membership, etc. I got a TagWrap (www.tagwrap.com) to hold them all, and it works great. Now I always have them with me, but they’re not such a mess on my keychain. Plus I love the pink leather! Just my 2 cents!

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