Clark Howard

Clark Howard’s Digital Wallet Strategy for 2024

Are you using a digital wallet in 2024?

Whether it’s Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Amazon Pay, PayPal, Venmo or something else altogether, consumers have never had more options for conducting financial transactions via “tap-and-go” with their cell phones.

Money expert Clark Howard has been a proponent of using a digital wallet for a few years now. What started as a COVID-era precaution has since become a habit in his daily life.

But can you fully commit to leaving your physical wallet behind and solely relying on your phone?

During a recent episode of The Clark Howard Podcast, Clark shared his strategy for balancing the convenience of digital wallets with the persistent need for physical items. In this article, we'll sort through his thoughts to develop an optimal strategy for 2024.

Balancing Act: Clark Says a Hybrid Approach Is Best Use of Digital Wallets

With push-start vehicles and keypad locks available on homes, Americans are trying their best to reduce the amount of “pocket space” taken up by the items required for their day-to-day lives.

Throw in digital wallets to handle payments, and some may feel like they can get away with simply carrying their phone everywhere they go.

But even the most technologically advanced among us still likely need to carry a few things on their person to feel secure that they can handle day-to-day transactions.

For example, Clark recalled recently watching a patron walk out of a restaurant without their pickup order because they were only able to pay the tab with Apple Pay. Unfortunately, that was a payment method the restaurant could not accept.

Clark says his solution is to load up his digital wallet with things like membership cards and various payment options, but also to carry a small wallet with the essentials.

“More and more things are available in digital form,” Clark says. “[For example], several different things I’m a member of and things like that: I have them all digitally on my phone and no longer carry a card. At the same time, I still carry a number of pieces of plastic. So, I need a small wallet. Because you don’t know when is the payment system going to be down to pay digitally.”

Using this “hybrid” method of carrying most things in a digital wallet and a few physical items will allow you to enjoy the convenience of the technology without the fear of being caught in an awkward situation.

An ideal setup for the small wallet could be as simple as your driver’s license or government ID, a credit card or two, and some petty cash. That way you’re covered for most financial transactions that could arise.

“The idea is you can digitize a lot of stuff, but don’t fully depend on it,” Clark says. “Because it may or may not work right, you want to have an alternate way to pay for things.”

What Are Some Items That Make Sense for a Digital Wallet?

Are you struggling to decide which items you’d like to carry in your Apple Pay or Google Wallet account?

Last time we checked in with Clark on his digital wallet habits, he told us he was carrying the following in his Google Wallet account:

  • Some of the credit cards that he also keeps in his actual wallet
  • Airline frequent flyer rewards accounts
  • Membership cards
  • Restaurant and store loyalty cards

Those still hold true, but there's a relatively new and important addition: His driver's license.

“We’re getting close to not having to carry a physical driver’s license anymore,” Clark says. “In my state, you can have a driver’s license that’s digital. I have a digital license on my phone that I can just pull it up.”

Clark lives in Georgia, which is one of the states that has begun allowing residents to carry a digital driver’s license.

But this is a situation where Clark’s “hybrid” method for digital wallets kicks in. There are still too many roadblocks for acceptance for that to be the only form of identification he carries.

“I still carry a [physical] driver’s license because so many places are like ‘What’s that?'” Clark says about his digital driver’s license. “And then there’s airport security. You have to go to a special line where you can present a digital driver’s license. It is not worth it yet.”

Do you use a digital wallet? Which one? And what do you choose to “carry” digitally these days? We’d love to hear how you’re balancing digital and physical personal items in the community.

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