A person holds their smartphone on the payment reader carried by a store employee.

Can you replace your physical credit cards with your smartphone?

Image source: Getty Images

We’ve come a long way since the ’90s when cell phones first became a popular accessory. With every technological advancement, our smartphones are becoming less of a luxury and more and more an essential part of our lives.

Recently, digital wallets and P2P Payment Apps It has gained popularity, in part due to the pandemic and an increased need for contactless payments. A study conducted by Visa in 2021 showed that 74% of small business owners surveyed expected consumers to continue to prefer contactless payments after the widespread release of the COVID-19 vaccine. A recent Chase survey echoed similar sentiments, with 73% of respondents agreeing that contactless payments are more convenient than other payment methods.

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But can your phone replace the plastic (or metal) credit cards in your wallet or purse? Probably.

Smartphone payment technology

It seems like every week or month, there’s a new way to access or spend money using your smartphone. Here’s a look at some of the technologies that have become more popular options for contactless transactions among consumers over the past couple of years.

digital wallets

A digital wallet, or mobile wallet, allows you to add payment card information to your mobile devices to pay in stores and online without the need for your physical credit or debit card. It essentially turns a smartphone into a wallet, so that people don’t have to carry cards with their person.

To use the digital wallet, simply add your information to the wallet of your choice on your mobile device and then open it when it’s time to pay. The process varies depending on the digital wallet you are using. You may need to swipe and scan a QR code or tap your phone into a contactless payment processing device during checkout. digital wallets Create contactless payment opportunities instead of having to swipe or enter a physical payment card.

Digital wallets include:

  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Samsung Pay
  • Fitbit Payment
  • Garmin Pay

Peer-to-peer payment apps and other digital payment options

Peer-to-peer (P2P) payment applications have become a mainstay in our daily lives, making it easy to send and receive money between friends, family and businesses. These apps allow you to transfer money with other people almost instantly through linked bank accounts and credit cards. P2P payment applications include:

Restaurants like Starbucks and Chick-fil-A have also entered the digital payment space with the ability to add payment cards directly within their mobile apps. Instead of withdrawing your credit card to indulge your account Pumpkin coffee latteyou can just open the Starbucks app and scan your prepaid gift card or gift card.

Some credit card issuers now offer Virtual card numbers So that consumers can shop online without revealing their credit card numbers. While you are making purchases, the card company creates an alternate card number to protect your information as an additional level of protection.

Buy Now Pay Later’ services have also become an alternative to using a credit card for online purchases. These installment loans allow you to make purchases online, pay part during checkout, and split the balance into several equal payments.

Can you exchange your physical credit cards for a smartphone?

While some individuals may still prefer using “real” cards or cash to pay for purchases, it is relatively easy to set up your smartphone, depending on the device, to handle most financial transactions in your life. You can apparently exchange credit and debit cards with digital wallets, P2P payment apps, automatic transfers, and virtual card numbers.

Pros and cons of using your cell phone to pay

As much as we love technology, there are advantages and disadvantages to using your mobile phone for financial transactions.


  • comfort: Using your cell phone is more convenient than withdrawing your wallet and encourages contactless transactions.
  • protection: Digital Payments uses data encryption and other security measures to protect your information.
  • multiple options: There are many digital wallets available now, so there is likely to be one that fits your needs.


  • Options can be limited: Many digital wallets and other payment services are available, but it may depend on your mobile device operating system and manufacturer.
  • Overspending: Removing the physical act of withdrawing your credit card from the store may cause some consumers to do so Spend more impulsively.
  • expenses: Some digital wallets may charge fees for utilizing payment services.

Should you give up your credit cards?

Don’t throw it or tear it credit cards, even if you switch to using your phone for all payments. You never know when you might need it, especially if your phone is lost, stolen or damaged, or you temporarily lose the ability to withdraw your wallet. Technology isn’t perfect, so having a physical card on hand might be a good idea.

You don’t necessarily have to carry it with you all the time. You can take it away somewhere in your house for safekeeping. And be sure to protect yourself and the information stored on your phone to make sure your payment information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

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