How to Travel Without a Wallet
You can worry a little less about getting your wallet stolen while on the road—but keep a close eye on your smartphone.
Android Pay is rolling out this week, and it is just one of the many services and apps that are making it easier to pay for travel with a mobile device. Everything from dinner to a cab can be yours for a click or a swipe.
Uber was one of the first companies to eliminate the need for fumbling for cash or signing a receipt—book a ride through the app, and the credit card on your account is charged automatically after drop-off. Now others are following on its wheels—er, heels. Arro launched this summer as way to hail and pay for New York City taxis directly through a smartphone.
Like OpenTable, Reserve is an app that allows users to browse restaurants and request reservations. But it goes one step farther by allowing diners to pay or split the bill on their smartphones. The app is free, though it does charge a $5 fee to every bill.
Apple Pay is probably the best-known way to go wallet-less. To pay for something, you hold your iPhone or Apple Watch up to a special terminal while holding your finger on the TouchID fingerprint sensor; a vibration and beep confirms you’ve paid. More than 1.5 million businesses across the U.S. accept it—many of which are drugstore and fast-food chains.
Apple Pay can also be used in a number of travel apps, including booking platform Priceline, last-minute hotel booking app HotelTonight, ride-share service RelayRides, ticketing marketplace StubHub, home rental site Airbnb and rental aggregator Dwellable. Instead of entering your credit card number in every app, you can select Apple Pay and confirm payment through the TouchID.
Android Pay is another wallet-less solution being rolled out to Android owners this week with more than 1 million retail locations around the U.S. As with Apple Pay, users tap their phones on a terminal, but you don’t need a fingerprint confirmation.
Despite all these advances, there’s a card you need to carry: I.D.is still required to get a cocktail.