The 10 Best Money Belts
This wiki has been updated 33 times since it was first published in March of 2016. You don't have to be going far afield to see the benefits of these money belts. They can hold all your cash, passports, travel documents, and credit cards securely and discreetly, while keeping everything close at hand, safe from pickpockets and, in many cases, secure from identity thieves, thanks to RFID protection. We've included a range of styles to suit a variety of tastes. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
February 29, 2020:
Even though the design is certainly clever, we've opted to remove the Shacke Hidden at this time. Unfortunately, it's a little awkward to use, and the strap tends to tear with moderately rough treatment, to boot. The SevenBlu Hip has become hard to find, so we've removed it, as well. For a relatively similar choice, we like the Stashbandz Unisex. You should note, though, that only one of its four pockets actually zips, so you'll want to be sure to place your most valuable items in this secure compartment. For options with plenty of zippered stash spots, we still like the Alpha Keeper. It has all the bells and whistles, from interior mesh pockets to a port for those who still haven't switched to wireless headphones. We've added the Raytix Hidden Wallet, as well; it's packaged with nifty extras, including a mini travel pen.
As for options that are a little different, there's the Volar Bags Security Belt. You'll have to fold up your money to get it inside, but if you're really worried about someone seeing the silhouette of a standard money belt, it should put your mind at ease. And, finally, there's the Blue Sky Basics. Although it's submersible, the manufacturer recommends testing it for leaks, as it's essentially made of plastic and can rip or tear. After all, if you're going to trust it with your devices, whether that's a budget tablet or cutting-edge smartphone, you won't want to take any risks.
Psylo Travel Belt You can lean into the money belt aesthetic with the Psylo Travel Belt, which was designed to be worn over your clothing, rather than hidden away. But don't worry about keeping your cash secure, since there's a nifty secret pocket, as well as an amply sized main pocket with both a zippered and flap closure. psylofashion.com
Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarf Okay, you've got us. The Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarf isn't actually a money belt, but it's an excellent and stylish alternative for those times when you need to maintain a slim profile. There are many available styles, from floral to geometric and beyond, making this a great choice for the fashion-forward traveler. speakeasytravelsupply.com
Tom Bihn Travel Money Belt The simple, webbed Tom Bihn Travel Money Belt has just enough room for some cash and perhaps a photocopy of your passport, making it a good tool for helping you out of a jam. And because there are five sizes to select from, you most likely won't be stuck with something that's either too big or too small. tombihn.com
Safe And Sound: Choosing A Money Belt
The best way to preserve comfort and freedom of movement is to use a small money belt and to pack it as lightly as possible.
A money belt is a savvy way to keep your cash safe. Most money belts are designed to be worn close to the body, concealed under your clothes and tucked away such that a thief's hands could never hope to access your belongings if they even knew you had goods worth stealing in the first place. In short, a money belt is designed to help you keep your money. In truth, to call these purpose built garments money belt alone is almost to sell them short: after all, a good money belt can safely house everything from currency to a passport to tickets to a smartphone, keys, and more. And most can be had for between ten and twenty dollars, an easy price to pay to protect your valuables.
When you are in the market for a money belt, you first have to think through all of the items which you absolutely must keep secure. If all you need to secure is cash and perhaps a credit card and ID, then by all means opt for the smallest money belt you can find. Even the most flexible such unit is still adding a layer to your clothing and can make both moving and sitting a bit less comfortable. The best way to preserve comfort and freedom of movement is to use a small money belt and to pack it as lightly as possible.
If you need to carry around a fair amount of cash, cards, and other sundries, then a larger money belt is fine. Look for an option with several different pockets and compartments, because then you can arrange the various items you need to have on hand to maximize your comfort. (Or to minimize your discomfort, to describe it more accurately.)
Next you have to consider the type of activities in which you will be engaging while wearing your money belt. Secure cash and documents are all fine and good, but a garment that chafes and irritates you during a hike or walking tour will be as much of an annoyance as it will a welcome guardian against robbery. Select a money belt than can be easily adjusted for a tighter or looser fit as needed and consider one that has a padded or mesh rear surface that won't cause excess friction during long and/or active use.
If you know you are traveling to an area where a robbery is highly probable, or if you anticipate extortion from corrupt officials or police, then also consider a money belt with a built in hidden compartment. These can be a saving grace for a journalist trying to protect his or her press credentials, for example, or for any traveler who wants to keep the bulk of their cash safe after surrendering a decoy amount from the main pockets of the money belt.
Other Accessories For Staying Safe As You Travel
Many money belts have built in RFID blocking technology that can help prevent your credit card or other information from being stolen by a criminal with an RFID scanner. (RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification, is a method of accessing data that is stored on a microchip paired with a diminutive antenna. Chances are good that many of the credit and debit cards in your wallet right now are so equipped.) If your money belt does not offer this feature, then consider getting an RFID blocking wallet as well. Many such wallets are compact enough to be tucked right into your money belt comfortably.
These locks can help attach a laptop or tablet to any fixed or heavy object, such as a fence out a table.
For those items too large to cancel on your person, instead secure them another way. Consider getting a laptop lock that can help you secure that most valuable laptop computer or tablet. When you are traveling, you may not have a dedicated place to store your computer, so go ahead and secure it instead. These locks can help attach a laptop or tablet to any fixed or heavy object, such as a fence out a table.
Also consider a luggage tracker with a built in microchip that can help you keep track of your bags. This is handy not only for seeing if your things are making their way through the airport and onto your flight, but they can be priceless for tracking down lost or stolen baggage. You can choose a smart luggage tag that clips right onto your bag and may help deter a theft in the first place, or you can opt for a more surreptitious approach and tuck a tracker into the bag where it will remain unseen.
What To Watch For In Pickpocket Territory
Experienced pickpockets know how to spot an easy "mark" and can usually commit their act of theft without the victim knowing they were robbed until it is far too late to do much about it. But just as the experienced thief can spot a soft target, the trained, watchful eye can identify a pickpocket.
One of the more common techniques of thieves is to work in tandem, with one person distracting the target while the other completes the actual pickpocketing.
Pickpockets generally grab a wallet, phone, camera, or cash after facilitating seemingly innocuous physical contact. So if someone brushes against you or seems to stumble into you, immediately check to make sure you have not been robbed. You have mere seconds to do so. Also affect an immediate sense of heightened vigilance if someone begins to engage you in an unexpected conversation. One of the more common techniques of thieves is to work in tandem, with one person distracting the target while the other completes the actual pickpocketing.
Watch out for anyone watching you, especially after you exit a bank or before you exit a store or shopping mall. Thieves know when you are likely to have the most cash on your person and will exploit the opportunity.
One reliable way to avoid becoming an actual victim of pickpocketing is to carry a decoy wallet that you are prepared to lose. Place a cheap wallet containing a dollar or two and some random receipts and such in easy reach, such as protruding from a back pocket, and you can almost rest assured your actual valuable will remain untouched (even if you don't have them secured in a money belt).