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RFID Blocking for Wallets Explained

Credit Card
I introduced the RFID blocking option to our entire collection based on many requests for this functionality. Lots of customers choose this option, but others have noticed it and wondered what RFID is and whether they need a wallet to block it. I’m not going to try to convince you to get it, just explain what it is as best I can so you can decide. 
Here's a brief explanation and answers to the most common questions...

 

What Does RFID Stand For?

RF stands for Radio Frequency and ID is Identification. It’s basically a way of transmitting information over the air between objects. There are a wide variety of applications for the technology, but the main ones are paymentsidentification, and building access badges.
If you have a credit card with PayPass or something similar, then it has the capability to transmit its information if placed near one of these readers. The concern is that it’s easy to get small readers which can be used by someone to get close to you and “skim”(rfid skimming) the information from your card, without ever taking your wallet out of your pocket. In fact, many mobile devices can read this info.

 

RFID Protection: What You Need it For

More recently, personal information has also begun to be embedded into RFID-enabled IDs. Cards from Washington, Michigan, New York, Vermont, and Canada all contain RFID chips with personal information. I don’t know whether the information can be actually stolen this way (they should have encryption, etc.) but many people who have these cards would prefer to prevent the information from being able to be transferred.
Probably the most common use for RFID cards is for building access. It’s convenient and fairly secure to have employees badge in to buildings, elevators, and rooms. I’ve worked in places where you need to swipe your badge to go through every almost door! So it certainly is convenient to be able to badge through these doors without taking your badge out of your wallet… or even your wallet out of your pocket if it’s at the right height.

 

RFID Blocking Wallets & Card Sleeves: Do They Work?

The blocking in SlimFold RFID wallets blocks the frequencies typically found in paymentidentification, and transit cards (13.56 MHz and above). It only blocks the building access cards if they also works on these same frequencies. Most people seem to want to block their payment cards through their wallets while still using building access cards- and that’s usually the case.
And if your building access cards are blocked, the RFID inserts in the MICRO can actually be removed and put back in. That lets you add RFID protection if you go on a trip or something. (The RFID blocking material in the Original models are sewn in, however.) 
Your other alternative is to get a non-RFID blocking wallet and then use the RFID card sleeves to protect just the cards that have chips.
So do you need RFID? The actual risk is probably not that high… and it of course depends on a lot of things like the risk factors of where you live and the cards you have. But I hope this helps clear up what the blocking feature is to help you decide. Feel free to reach out with any questions!

FAQ

Does it make the wallet thicker or heaver?
Nope! Unlike some wallets that include bulky or heavy material, I use a patented alloy/Tyvek laminate. This results in the Tyvek models being the thinnest RFID blocking wallets in the world.
Will my building access badge work through it?
Probably but it depends on the frequency it uses. I’ve been finding that it tends to attenuate the signal of building access cards, making you need to get a bit closer to use them, but that it still works. Meanwhile, it will block payment, ID, and transit cards. If that’s a deal breaker, you can order both versions and then send back one of them.
Is the protection removable?
For the MICRO, yes. For the Original, no.
Will my train/bus pass work through it?
Probably not. Some folks have experimented with the placement of the card by putting it between the RFID blocking material and the outer layer of the wallet, but I haven’t heard definitive results about that yet. If you try it, please let me know how it works for you!
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New Tyvek RFID Version

Last October I introduced the world’s first RFID blocking Tyvek wallet. I partnered with a producer of a proprietary RFID blocking Tyvek to design an entire wallet out of it rather than just card sleeves. They were very well received and the print run completely sold out before the end of the year.

Recently, I introduced the RFID Soft Shell which is produced by inserting this same material into the wallet during production. That method worked so well that I’ve decided to carry it over to the Tyvek line:

  • Now the world’s thinnest RFID blocking wallet is even thinner.
  • The Original size Tyvek RFID wallets now double-fold more easily.

In addition to the previous black models, Gray/Orange MICRO RFID and Gray/Orange Original RFID is available for pre-order and will ship the first week of February.

RFID Blocking

The wallets block cards which operate at 13.56 MHz and above including:

  • ID Cards (Canada, Washington, Michigan, New York, and Vermont)
  • Credit cards (PayPass, Blink, sQuid)
  • Military cards (CAC Common Access Cards)
  • Building access cards* (HID iClass, HID MIFARE, HID FlexSmart, DESFire)
  • Transit cards (Boston Charlie, DC Metro)
  • Government cards (e.g., TWIC-Transportation Worker Identification Credential)

*Some building access cards are NOT shielded including HID 125 KHz.

I hope you enjoy this new line of RFID Tyvek wallets and I look forward to hearing what you think...

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Production Updates...

I wanted to give you a bit of visibility into the production process at the moment beyond just seeing all the “sold out” signs on the items. I wrote this post awhile back about all the steps that go into getting a product produced… and that was written thinking about the Tyvek product for which design was already complete. I’m currently in the midst of production for a the Soft Shell, a new product which was just funded on Kickstarter. My first priority is to produce and ship those wallets to the backers, as they have already paid for them and been gracious enough to invest in the product when it was still in the prototype phase.
Here’s an overview of the product lines and where their production stands:

Black RFID Tyvek wallets

All of the ones which were printed have been sewn. Now that packaging has been printed too, some have made it into the warehouse. Those are about to run out, but then the rest will have finished being packaged.
Timeframe: Available now, but will probably sell out sometime in November.

Soft Shell Wallets

Production is going full-tilt on these. It’s taking a little longer to produce each one than we anticipated, but the sewing house seems like they’re about to start hitting their stride with this new product and material. Quality is top priority and the ones they’ve made so far are coming out fantastic. 
Timeframe: Dec/Jan

Non-RFID and color Tyvek

A print run was just completed for these and they will then make their way through the cutting, sewing, and packaging process. It’s hard to say right now when each color will be ready but they will probably slide in around production of the Soft Shells during November. (Not each step in the Soft Shell production process takes the same amount of time so if someone in the crew has time, they can shift over and make some Tyvek ones.)
Timeframe: Dec/Jan
So what should you do if you want one of these wallets? Right now, I’m maintaining an email list which I will alert if there is a major inventory update or a new product becomes available for sale. Click here to sign up:
I’m also considering offering pre-orders. Christmas delivery wouldn't be guaranteed, but the sooner the order was placed the higher the likelihood of getting there would be. What would you guys think of that?
Thanks again for your support!
Dave