The personal finance blog group, The Money Writers, came up with the idea of writing a post about the contents of a blogger’s wallet.  As it’s a regular occurrence for me to bare all (financially) on this blog, I agreed to play along as some of my readers may be curious as well.

What’s my philosophy on what I carry in my wallet?  I try to keep things as minimalistic as possible, but as a fan of rewards points, it can lead to more than a few cards in the wallet.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a picture I took last night of the contents of my wallet:

wallet

  • The Wallet – Starting at the very top, you’ll see my 12 year old wallet that has seen better days.  What else did you expect from a frugal guy?
  • Credit Cards – At the top left, you’ll see my main credit card – The MBNA Smart Cash credit card.  This is a no annual fee card and is my pick for the top cash back credit card in Canada.  This card will give you 2% cash back on gas and groceries, up to $400 in spending per month and 1% on everything else.  Next to that you’ll see the American Express SPG credit card.  You may be thinking, what is a fee based card doing there?  I signed up for this SPG card as I’m already committed to the program from collecting points via the canceled MBNA SPG Mastercard.  The first year annual fee was waived with the AMEX, so I figured it would extend my points by another year as points get lost after one year of inactivity.  I’ll likely cancel the card before they charge me for the next year.

Update April 2013 – We’ve cancelled our SPG AMEX and added the Capital One Aspire Cash World card to complement the Smart Cash Card.  We use the Smart Cash for gas/groceries up to the monthly 2% limit, then use the Capital One card for everything else (1.5% cash back).  Here is a thorough Capital One Aspire Cash World Review (now discontinued).

Update Sept 2013 – The Capital One Aspire Cash World has been discontinued.  You can see my picks for the next best cash back credit card here.

  • Rewards Programs – To the right of the AMEX, you’ll see my Esso Extra card.  I tend to stick with the same gas station which I’ve read is good for the car, and also good on the points.  I use the Esso points mostly for free car washes.  Other rewards programs that I follow are Airmiles and on occasion, we share a Subway sandwich if we are on the run.
  • Bank Cards – I used to carry two bank cards, but have reduced to only carrying my CIBC card as I rarely use the bank machine for my PC financial account.  I’ve been doing my banking with CIBC for years, thus the black convenience card.
  • Other Cards – In my “misc” cards pile, there’s my Costco Executive Membership, my drivers license, insurance,  and, of course, a library card.  Since we’ve been doing a lot of our shopping at Costco, the upgrade to the Executive membership made sense as it pays for itself with 2% cash back.  The library card also gets quite a bit of use as it’s a fun destination for the kids.
  • Cash –  Hard to believe but I didn’t know how much cash was in my wallet until I took everything out.  I like to have a few $20’s around in case cash is needed which is actually quite rare.  I tend to use a credit card for everything possible.

How do the contents of my wallet compare with yours?

Here are the wallet contents from some of the The Money Writers:

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Cash! and a few debit cards. I quit using credit cards been about 6 months.

I do have a Global Payment Mastercard which acts and uses the credit card system but is actually tied to a bank account.

I used to collect the points and rewards from the credit cards but I found its too easy to overspend, I never actually used the rewards and found out there is research that if you use cash instead of credit you actually tend to spend less ( around 15% )

Just my 2 cents

And you can use your MasterCard at Tim Hortons!!!

But if you like cash back cards, you’re a Costco member, and you like Amex then replace three cards with one by putting your Costco membership on the back of your Amex card and get cash back where-ever you use it!!!

– CIBC Aerogold
– TD Convenience Card
– TD Small Business Visa
– TD Small Business Convenience Card
– PC Financial Mastercard
– Air Miles Rewards
– Sobeys Rewards
– Shoppers Optimum Rewards
– Aeroplan Card

– MBNA SmartCash MasterCard (Groceries & gas)
– Ultramar MasterCard (absolutely everything else)
– Amex Airmiles Rewards Card (only at Costco)
– Costco Executive Membership
– Air Miles Rewards Card

SmartCash is good for 3% cashback on groceries & gas, Ultramar is a flat 1.25% cashback everywhere (also pay all utilities, phones, insurance, etc on it). I use the Airmiles Amex at Costco only because I don’t spend enough at Costco annually to make the tiered cashback Amex worth it.

No cash (usually), one credit card, one debit card (just in case, I don’t use it much), a library card and a drivers licence. I also have pictures of my family, a business card, a cheque and a bus ticket (again, in case). That’s it.Membership cards stay in the car.

Cash – that’s so 1985
Costco card – waste of money. If I absolutely need something there, I borrow the company’s card.

I have 4 cards in my wallet – license, library, MBNA Smart Cash, debit card.

Credit card – 1 Visa and 1 MC
ATM card
Library card
Government-issued IDs (various)
Coupons – for places that I usually frequent
Health care card from my insurance company
1-2 cheques
Cash – $20 or less, usually just small change

Funny enough my father-in-law always suggests me “a man” should carry more cash for “just in case” situations, to the tune of several hundred dollars. I always respond with a big “why”… *LOL*

TD First Class Visa – everything except groceries/gas/Canadian Tire
MBNA Smart Cash – groceries/gas
Canadian Tire Options – Canadian tire only (still have plenty of cdn tire $)
TD convienance card – (although could remove since TD Visa can do)
Second cup card – gotta have coffee – get free latte on load and pay with Visa so decent return.
CAA
License
Insurance
Health card (both provencial and company plan- for travel)
some cash – $40 or less

Like Robert, the points cards in the car (Airmiles, Aeroplan, Sobey’s, Shopper Optimum are the main ones).

Wow, you guys all have next to nothing… mine is quite a monster for no real reason…

Ontario Drivers License
California Drivers License
CIBC Debit Card
Wells Fargo Debit Card
An August Metropass….. what the hell
Canadian blood donor card
CIBC Classic visa
CIBC Dividend visa
CIBC Platinum Visa
Some business cards
Moores perfect fit card
Health Card
TD Debit Card (American TD branch)
Social Insurance Card
Standardlife Insurance Card
Social Security Card
Birth Certificate
Library Card (From brampton ontario which i haven’t used in 15 years… wow)
$50 American
$30 Canadian
Pictures of random family

Wow! I only really use my wells fargo debit card now that I’ve moved to the states semi-permanently since they won’t give me a credit card down here :)

Ha, here we go:

CIBC Aerogold Visa
AMEX Airmiles card
Manulife Bank World Points Mastercard
MBNA Platinum card – never use so will remove it
Sears Credit Card – rarely use so will remove it
Manulife Bank debit card
Membership cards:
Costco
Shoppers Optimum
Air Miles
Aeroplan
Laura priviledge
Eddie Bauer
Chapters
HBC
Library
Fabricville
Carleton Cards
Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids
hair salon points card
art gallery membership cards for myself and daughter

Drivers License
provincial health card for myself and daughter
health insurance cards for mine and husbands group health plans
hospital cards

business cards
business license card

some cash

I will be removing a few of the membership cards but I like to have them on hand as needed.

– License
– Metropass
– debit card
– master card
– about $16
– keycard for office
– eyeglass cleaning cloth
– empty slot that I look at and wish was filled with money

Citibank Drivers Edge Mastercard – $8 annual fee 2% on everything to a max of $1000 annually redeemable on any car purchase. I have been leasing for a while so this makes sense for me as I redeem for 3k every 3 years.
Costco Amex – I use it for 3% on restaurants and then 1% at costco
TD Rebate Rewards Visa – not great but just got for overflow when I max out my mastercard benefits.
Drivers License
TD Access Card
Shoppers Optimum
Manulife Health Card
Direct Buy Membership card
Starwood Preferred Guest Card
Work Access Card
Roughly $40 cash

I know I have too much, but …

1 – License
2 – MBNA Smart Cash CC
3 – AMEX CC – Air Miles (rarely use)
4 – Manulife Debit Card
5 – PC Bank Debit Card
6 – Air Miles card
7 – Safeway Club Card
8 – Firearms PAL card
9 – Library Card
10 – BCAA card
11 – Care Card – should this be carried in our wallets?
12 – mini Save-On-More card

also, a few receipts, some cash, some superstore gas bucks, some family pics and some business cards.

I should probably leave the AMEX card at home. I likely don’t need to carry around my firearms permit, Safeway and Air Miles cards could technically be left in the car, but I would likely regularly forget to take them into the store with me. Plus we have two vehicles, so it could be hard to remember to get them from one or the other every time one goes shopping. Same goes for the BCAA card and dilemma of which vehicle to store it in.

Should care card be carried?

Don’t forget that rather than carry around all your loyalty cards you can just write the numbers all down on a piece of paper, most places can enter the numbers manually if it isn’t already tied to your phone number. Only problem would be gas stations, as I tend to swipe mine at the pump.

Alternative to comment #12:

If you have an iPhone then get CardStar, an app that displays the bar code from any of your rewards cards, such that it can be scanned at the cash.

I hold

IDENTITY CARD
DRIVING LICENCE
STORE PRIVILEGED CARDS
DEBIT CARD
CREDIT CARD
CASH

I was developing sciatica from having too many rewards cards in my wallet. Rewards programs must really be aimed at females who have the luxury of being able to carry 52 cards in a purse. I’ve cut down to the following now:

– driver’s licence
– health card
– air miles mastercard
– gas discount mastercard
– air miles card
– amex card
– costco card
– CAA card
– Justice gift card
– $85 CAD
– $123 USD

The rest I now keep in my safe and get them when needed.

CIBC Visa Aerogold
6 Bank cards (3 personal, 3 business)
Gas card (business)
Driver’s License
Various rewards points cards
Misc receipts for business expenses
Business Cards
$265 cash (cuz you never know)

All nicely tucked away in a 15 year old wallet that is shaped perfectly to the inside of my pocket (no, my dear wifey, for the last time, I’m *not* getting a new one).

I do not carry a wallet, only a money clip.

In the clip is my driver’s license, bank card, and cash.

That is all.

an equally important question is where do you carry your wallet?

I am right rear pocket, though my father who is also right handed, keeps it in the left rear. I also have an Uncle and Grandfather who carried it in the front right pocket (fear of pickpockets?). My uncle’s used to be George Costanza thick too.

TD Visa Infinite – for the $100 sign up bonus
TD debit – for the $150 sign up bonus
MBNA MC Smart Cash
AMEX Airmiles + Airmiles card

Basically 1 debit + 1 of each major CC

Licence / mil ID / gym ID

Important: MEMORIZED SIN (and service number and blue cross number) Someone above carries their SIN card – bad idea

$100 CAD or currency for travel

I prefer cashback but I have various reward club #s conveniently saved on my iPhone.

CDN Mastercard with airmiles
USD Mastercard
Drivers License
Airmiles card for gas
Debit card for places that don’t take CC
Care Card
Business cards
recent receipts if I have made purchases over $100
$100-$400 CDN
0-$150 USD
Uncashed checks
2-3 Bus tickets if I ever need to take bus
Sin card I have memorized
Safeway card I have memorized

Apart from the standard credit card/ID/debit card/cash/library card I also have my health card, my card for getting into the office, pics of my husband and my dog, a phonecard in case I need to call Ireland, work-related receipts for expenses, a bunch of business cards, gym membership card, my TTC (transit) pass and spare hair ties. I carry a lot of crap around, but I’m a girl, I have a bag for my bulging wallet.

MBNA Smartcash MC
MBNA Optimum MC
Optimum points card
PC Debit card
PC MC
Scotia debit card
TD debit card
RBC westjet MC
$5 gift card
Health card
Driver’s licence
occupation licence
punch card
second cup .75 cents coffee punch card
office key
blockbuster card
business card
ttc token
like .3 cents, no cash (usually never any cash)

Frugal I just remembered that Esso has a speed pass thingy that you can attach your smartcash cc to and it tied to your points card. So you don’t have to carry that points card around. Just use your speed pass at esso. Kind of convenient too, you don’t have to swipe your card or go into the store to pay. This is how I do it as I rack up the free car washes too to use in the winter. (only use touchless if you care about your paint)

Anyway you can sign up on their website for the speed pass. It’s mailed to you and I think you even get a few hundred bonus points for signing up.

I’ve been following you for a year or so… and go figure, I have the exact same cards as you in my wallet. Right down to the same amount of cash, too.

@Ray
Maybe if you copy is wallet exactly, you can beat him to $1million ;)

Credit Cards:

– MBNA SmartCash MasterCard
– CIBC Dividend Visa
– Air Miles

Debit

– PC Financial

No cash

Capital One Aspire Mastercard
CIBC Dividend Visa (old, just kept as a no-fee backup)
PC Financial debit card
Costco gold membership card
HBC credit card (for those 10% off everything days)
Library card
Driver’s License
Paper with numbers for Air Miles, Aeroplan, Alberta Heath care, GWL health plan, and some airline club membership numbers.
1 cheque
$45 cash

This is what I typically carry, but sometimes there’s a gift card or Tim Horton’s cup rim (if I won a free coffee or donut).

All this fits in a nice leather wallet that I’ve had for 10 years and is still in really good shape. It measures 2cm thick (filled with the above), so I prefer not to keep it in my pants pocket (besides, I’m sure I’d always forget it when I put on new pants each day). Instead, I keep it in my jacket, in either a zippered outer chest pocket or an interior pocket. I usually keep my buspass with it, but not inside it.

@ Chuck: Sciatica can be a pain. Keep in mind that cutting down on cards is a great idea. Also consider reducing wallet thickness or putting it into your front pocket to sit on less.

For people looking to upgrade wallets: Rogue Wallets are designed to fit into front pockets, but are for the severe minimalist. BigSkinnys and AllEtts are designed to be super-thin while carrying a whole bunch of cards. Check them out on the websites.

Personally, I try to be as minimalist as possible:

TD Debit Card
MBNA SmartCash MC
CIBC VISA (want to switch to TD to get rid of debit in the wallet)
AirMiles
Driver’s License
School ID
A bit of cash/receipts

I use a leather Big Skinny wallet, and it’s nice and flat (compared to my old canvas one) but can fit double of what I carry. I’m thinking of converting to a money clip, but am not sure which one to go for.

On a side note, walletstock.com offers minimalist skinny wallets for us Canadians, without the need to pay huge money for shipping and customs.

Lee

You have a lot more in your wallet then me :)

I carry 2 credit cards
-MBNA Cash Back for grocery and gas (3%)
-Citi platinum drivers edge for everything else (2%)

A drivers license and medical card.

I was thinking about adding my teaching card for potential discounts.

My 4 cards fit in a paper thin wallet that you cant even see in my pocket! :)

Thanks for the posting idea, I think I will write one on this topic.

MBNA Travel Rewards Platinum Plus (Waived Annual Fee)
TD Visa (Just in case)
TD Debit
Scotiabank Debit
Driver’s Licence
Scene Rewards Card
Business Card to a jeweler with specifications to a ring my wife likes (5 years is only 3 years away)

Great and interesting post FT !!

-DL
-Cash, about $40 max
-PC M/C
-Bank Card
-Costco
-Air Miles
-Aeroplan
-Tims pay card
-Health Card
-Chapters iRewards card
-Subway points card

Don’t want to fit anything else in there :)

Change your CIBC regular IS card to an Advantage IS card.

Not to sound like a sales pitch.

You can use the Visa network to make purchases (on line, telephone banking, shopping in the US), and it debits your account. In Canada, it works as a debit.

Plus, CIBC is having a draw for a whole lot of Aeroplan points ( 1 Million Miles actually).

Since you are IS, talk to your advisor.

Look, I work there, but just the chance to win 1 Million miles….. And no, I can’t win since I am an employee.

How long do you have to be with CIBC for to get a black card?

It’s not a matter of time, it is if you want to work with an FA and you have the assets.

With more unique gift cards, we need carry each one everywhere we go. For gas, toysrus, tesco, fashion boutique, hair saloon, etc. Luckily I have a long purse that can hold all these cards with 5 more bank cards. Not including license, IC, photos, money, etc. Sometimes, it takes the whole day to clean up the purse. So, I would rather do it on weekend.

Credit cards are the way to go. Having said that I only have one. Points rock :)
RBC Avion Visa
RBC Debit Card
ESSO Extra Card
Aeroplan Card
Air Miles
Costco
Tim Hortons Card
Starbucks Card
Library Card
Driver’s License
Health Card

I recently bought a new lady-like and grown-up wallet. It has quite a few pockets so I’m carrying all manner of things with me.

Driver’s license
Library card
Bank card
My beloved Visa Debit card
Health membership card
Movie points card (kind of irrelevant since I work there)
University book shop life membership (a really great discount!)
Store reward points (jewelry, beauty, expensive department store)
Cash — no more than $40
Receipts, lists, coupons and a fitness timetable for the gym

It doesn’t bulge and everything fits nicely.

Some people should really just print or stick the barcodes of their bonus cards onto a cardboard one.

Or understand that there’s no need to carry around family photos and museum cards that are not needed for the moment.

Here is what i have in mine
SIN
BIRTH CERTIFICATE
OHIP CARD
AIR MILES CARD
TD BANK CARD
TD BUSINESS ACCESS CARD
TD BUSINESS VISA
CIBC AEROGOLD VISA
CANADIAN TIRE OPTIONS CARD(FOR CANADIAN TIRE MONEY)
CAPITAL ONE CREDIT CARD WITH 5.9% interest rate
I have $100 in bills and about $10-12 in change in my wallet.
I don’t drive and my husband has the costco card.

@marina: Get your SIN card and Birth Certificate out of your wallet! There’s no reason to carry those anywhere.

Regarding comment #20

Wallet goes in front right pocket. Easier access, and more comfortable when sitting. Cheers

Totally off topic but I love that it is Canadian content! Really helps a fellow canuck relate :) Excellent post

two credit card, two debt cards, blood donor card, cash would have liked more than i found, photos of wife and children, and that is it ,thanks for the post

The more people continue to use credit cards and not cash, the more we are headed to a cash-obsolete society. We are giving up our right to privacy and allowing the government (and other institutions) to trace every expenditure AND every move we make (when purchasing). Not the kind of world I care to live in.

CASH BABY!!

Driver’s License
Health Card
PC Debit Card
PC MC
CIBC Visa (only if places don’t accept MC, seems to be getting more frequent)
Air Miles (gas only – this will soon be gone as moving to another town where I can fuel up at PC-related gas station for instant cash-back for groceries)
Pizza Pizza card (occasional lunch at work)
$5 (I try to keep $20 in wallet at all times)