RFID, Travel, Wallet Cases, Wallets

How to Build a Homemade RFID Blocker

Travel Money Belt with RFID Blocking-640

Perhaps you just ordered an RFID-blocking wallet on the internet and want to build a homemade RFID blocker alternative to protect your credit cards while you wait for the product to ship. Or maybe you just want a do-it-yourself fix that does more or less the same thing as an RFID-blocking wallet. Either way, there are several things you can do to build yourself a homemade RFID blocker.

The basic idea here is to create a “shield” around your credit cards, to prevent RFID scanners from stealing your payment information remotely.

RFID technology is based on electromagnetic waves, so blocking those waves can prevent or inhibit a scanner from communicating with your cards.

The Do-it-Yourself Options

If you do decide to go the DIY route and build a homemade RFID blocker, you might enjoy knowing that there are a lot of different things you can do depending on your budget and how much effort you want to put into designing the blocker.

Altoids Tin

If you want the quickest fix possible, you can “build” your RFID blocker out of an Altoids tin or a cigarette tin. Metal containers are great for blocking electromagnetic radio waves, and you don’t have to do much at all to “build” them into RFID blockers. Just clean out the tin and place your credit cards inside of it. Voila! You have a perfectly adequate RFID blocker! This option is probably only ideal as a temporary fix since it isn’t exactly comfortable or fashionable to carry around an Altoids tin in your back pocket. Still, metal containers will get the job done with little effort or budget required.

Aluminum Foil

Probably the next easiest option is to make your RFID blocker out of aluminum foil. The core premise with this option is the same as using a metal container: metal inhibits or outright blocks radio waves, thereby making it difficult or impossible for an RFID scanner to extract your card information. Aluminum foil isn’t necessarily a foolproof method, as RFID scanners that are powerful enough or close enough can still detect an RFID microchip in a credit card. However, using an aluminum foil blocker will make it more difficult for those signals to reach your cards, requiring a thief to get closer to you (and risk being caught) in order to snag your information.

Unlike with the cigarette or Altoids tin solutions, there are a variety of different directions you can take when building an RFID blocker out of aluminum. The first and most simple idea is to cut out a piece of aluminum foil and use it to line your wallet. By placing the foil in the cash pocket and closing your wallet, you would essentially be wrapping a layer of foil around everything in your wallet. The issue with this option is that the foil can easily get in the way when it’s just inserted into your wallet like another dollar bill. You might try to pay for a transaction with a piece of foil, or the foil lining could get bent or crumpled when you are putting cashing into your wallet. Add the fact that simply lining your wallet with foil doesn’t provide a gapless barrier for any of your cards, and it’s probably only good as a stopgap protection.

A slightly more effective option is to wrap pieces of cardboard or old, used gift cards in foil. You can then insert these foil blockers into each slot of your wallet that has a credit card in it. The foil-wrapped card should be closest to the outside of the wallet while the credit card itself should face inward. Just like with the lining trick above, this method doesn’t create a gapless wall around your cards, but it does provide a barrier that will make it more difficult for RFID sensors to activate the microchip and RFID tag in your credit card.

Other DIY Options

Luckily for you, there are DIY tutorials all over the web for how to create better blockers with foil. This Instructables guide shows you how to build individual sleeves for your different credit and debit cards using duct tape and aluminum foil while this guide provides instructions for building a full-sized homemade wallet using the same materials. Both options are effective if your want to build an RFID blocker using materials you probably already have lying around the house. There are other guides around the web that will show you how to create RFID blockers using coffee bags or other foil-lined bags or boxes.

Staying Smart with Your Credit Cards

As you can see, there are a lot of different options at your disposal if you wish you build a homemade, do-it-yourself RFID blocker. All of these methods should help to impede or completely block any radio waves from accessing your cards and activating the RFID chips inside of them.

Still, remember that even aluminum foil is not an impregnable blocker against RFID scanners. Being smart with your credit cards and staying aware of your surroundings while in public is still as important as ever. If a stranger is a getting unusually close to you, there’s a chance he or she could be trying to scan your cards. If there is a suspicious charge on your account, contact your credit card company immediately—even if you took steps to protect yourself from RFID threats.

Ironically, given the swift evolution of technology we’ve experienced over the past two decades, we live in a time when credit cards are arguably less secure than ever before. From RFID scanners to hacked online accounts, all the way to compromised payment terminals at stores like Target, there are more ways than ever before for thieves to get a hold of your secure payment information. A homemade RFID blocker is just one defense against identity theft, so don’t assume it will keep you and your card safe from all threats.

If you’ve already been using a homemade RFID blocker and want to make the switch to a professionally designed and manufactured RFID wallet, start by checking out e-Holster’s Travel Money Belt with RFID Blocking!