How Digital Wallet Security Can Help Protect You

Ready to swap your physical wallet for a simple and more secure way to pay?


Devices like smartphones, smartwatches, laptops and tablets have become a critical part of modern life. With just a few clicks or taps, you can take care of countless everyday tasks—and make purchases without needing your physical credit card. How? Through the ease and added security of a digital wallet!

Find out what digital wallets are, how they work and how they can help you keep your information safer.

What Is a Digital Wallet?

Digital wallets are exactly what they sound like. They’re electronic versions of your physical wallet. They can store things like credit card information, loyalty cards and even tickets you’ve purchased. 

You can access that personal data from devices like your smartphone, smartwatch, computer or tablet. This can help get rid of the need to carry all this information around with you physically. 

You also might hear the term “mobile wallet.” This is essentially the same thing. A mobile wallet is a type of digital wallet on a mobile device, like your smartphone or smartwatch.

Are There Different Types of Digital Wallets?

There are many different types of digital wallets, and most can hold several cards at once. Plus, many devices have built-in digital wallets that support some of your favorite digital payment platforms

How Secure Are Digital Wallets?

Credit cards stored in digital wallets can actually be more secure than traditional cards.

When you check out with a digital wallet, a unique 16-digit number, or token, is assigned to your card. But unlike your credit card number, a token is more secure because your card number isn’t seen by the merchant. And that token can only be used with a unique cryptogram that gets applied to each individual transaction.

So when you shop with a digital wallet, you can check out knowing your full financial information is hidden from the merchant.

How Do Digital Wallets Work?

Most digital wallets come with an app you can add to your computer, phone, watch or other smart device. 

When you’re out shopping, you can pay with most wallets by holding your device near a terminal that has the contactless symbol (four curved lines). Sometimes, you might be required to provide a passcode or fingerprint authentication to complete the transaction. From there, you can use the app to make purchases, pay someone directly or even use tickets for things like concerts or travel.

For non-mobile digital wallets (think online shopping from a laptop), you might be prompted to log in or provide a password. Which can be much faster and easier than finding your physical card and then typing in several rows of information.

Where and When Can You Use Your Digital Wallet?

Digital wallets give you the freedom of quick transactions, which can come in handy—especially when you’re out and about and realize you left your physical wallet at home! And thanks to the increase in contactless cards, many retailers now have updated payment terminals that are compatible with most mobile wallets.

If you’re an avid online shopper, entering your card information every time you make a payment can get a bit tedious. But digital wallets can eliminate that process by automatically filling in your information for you, so checking out is just a few clicks away. 

What If You Sell, Recycle or Lose Your Device?

Before you sell or recycle your device, it’s a good idea to back up your data and then delete your personal information.

If something unexpected happens to one of your devices—phone, laptop or otherwise—be sure to contact your credit card issuer immediately. The company can put a freeze on any accounts you might have added to a digital wallet.

As a Capital One cardholder, there are simple steps you can take if your physical credit card is lost or stolen. With Capital One Card Lock, you can instantly lock your card to temporarily prevent it from being used for purchases. And if you find it, you can unlock it just as easily to use your card again.

But what if your phone is lost or stolen? Thankfully, there are apps available that allow you to remotely lock or erase data from your phone. Using these apps and setting up additional security, like fingerprint recognition and password protection, can help make your phone more secure.

Ready to start using digital wallets? Now that you know a bit more about how they work and the security behind them, you can find the way to pay that works best for you.


We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

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