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:


  • 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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  1. Brian on October 27, 2010 at 10:17 am

    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

  2. schultzter on October 27, 2010 at 10:57 am

    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!!!

  3. Cruiser on October 27, 2010 at 11:54 am

    – 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

  4. Jordan on October 27, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    – 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.

  5. Robert on October 27, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    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.

  6. Geo on October 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    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.

  7. Calvin on October 27, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    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*

  8. Greg on October 27, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    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.
    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).

  9. DividendMan on October 27, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    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 :)

  10. LindaL on October 27, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    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:
    Shoppers Optimum
    Air Miles
    Laura priviledge
    Eddie Bauer
    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.

  11. Evan on October 27, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    – 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

  12. Rob on October 27, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    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

  13. Rodney on October 27, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    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?

  14. Alex C on October 27, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    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.

  15. saveddijon on October 27, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    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.

  16. Credit Cards on October 27, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    I hold


  17. Chuck on October 27, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    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.

  18. Sarlock on October 27, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    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).

  19. MTNG on October 27, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    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.

  20. chuckles on October 27, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    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.

  21. mode3sour on October 27, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    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.

  22. Future Money-Bags on October 27, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    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

  23. guinness416 on October 27, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    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.

  24. Jungle on October 28, 2010 at 12:05 am

    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)

  25. Jungle on October 28, 2010 at 1:14 am

    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.

    • FrugalTrader on October 28, 2010 at 6:44 am

      @Jungle, thanks for the tip! The issue is that my keychain already looks like a set that a school janitor carry’s around while working! Maybe I’ll write a separate post on the what’s on my keychain. :)

  26. Ray on October 28, 2010 at 4:11 am

    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.

  27. Future Money-Bags on October 28, 2010 at 5:01 am

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

  28. FrugalTrader on October 28, 2010 at 6:46 am

    @chuckles, i used to carry my wallet in my back pocket, then I read that it’s not so great for the back, so I either put it in my jacket pocket or front pocket.

    @Ray, that is a coincidence! I’m not surprised that a lot of MDJ readers use the smart cash card as it’s likely the top cash back CC in Canada.

  29. Jason on October 28, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Credit Cards:

    – MBNA SmartCash MasterCard
    – CIBC Dividend Visa
    – Air Miles


    – PC Financial

    No cash

  30. Elbyron on October 28, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    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.

  31. Lee on October 28, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    @ 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)
    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, offers minimalist skinny wallets for us Canadians, without the need to pay huge money for shipping and customs.


  32. Dd on October 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    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.

  33. Play the odds on October 28, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    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)

  34. Financial Cents on October 28, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Great and interesting post FT !!

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

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

  35. JFG on October 29, 2010 at 2:37 am

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

  36. FrugalTrader on October 29, 2010 at 9:23 am

    JFG, what are the benefits of the “advantage” card?

  37. JFG on October 29, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    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.

  38. Richard on October 30, 2010 at 12:46 am

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

  39. JFG on October 30, 2010 at 2:14 am

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

  40. Atniz on November 3, 2010 at 8:54 am

    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.

  41. Mo2 on November 10, 2010 at 3:10 am

    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
    Tim Hortons Card
    Starbucks Card
    Library Card
    Driver’s License
    Health Card

  42. Louise M on December 4, 2010 at 5:41 am

    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.

  43. Gnaagah on January 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    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.

  44. marina on January 9, 2011 at 2:54 am

    Here is what i have in mine
    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.

  45. Jeff on February 16, 2011 at 4:32 pm

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

  46. SittingStraight on April 7, 2011 at 12:57 am

    Regarding comment #20

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

  47. CheapoPhilipo on July 15, 2011 at 11:37 am

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

  48. martin on September 24, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    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

  49. badboy on August 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    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.


  50. KC on November 21, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    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)

  51. Peter on November 24, 2015 at 2:51 am

    Costco Capital One Mastercard
    Debit card
    Driver’s License

    these are really the only 3 I use with any regularity. The rest really should go into a 2nd wallet storage type so the primary wallet does not get too big (similar to George Castanza in Sienfeld)

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