Travel‌ ‌money‌ ‌belt:‌ ‌do‌ ‌you‌ ‌need‌ ‌it?‌

Gabriela Peratello

The travel money belt was once an essential — whether you were setting off on a budget backpacking adventure, or a round the world cruise. Stuffing that money belt with travelers checks, wads of foreign currency and your emergency phone numbers was a rite of passage.

But these days, the way we travel, and the way we access money on the go, have changed. With ATMs available across most of the world, more reliable card and mobile payment networks, and constant connectivity thanks to our smartphones and mobile devices, the idea of a travel money belt may feel a bit antiquated.

So — is a travel money belt a globetrotter’s best friend, or a throwback from a bygone age? Let’s take a look. We’ll run through some pros and cons of travel money belts, some smart options if you decide you can’t leave home without one, and some alternatives if you’d rather be unencumbered.

📑 Table of Contents

We’ll also introduce modern travel money solutions like the Wise international account and card which allow you to save money — and travel light — on your trip.

Learn more about Wise

Travel money belt basics

Let’s start with some basics about travel money belts. They are designed to improve your security when you travel, by letting you keep all your cash and valuables — as well as essentials like contact numbers and documents — close. Like, really close. Stuff all your necessities into your travel belt, strap it round your midriff and you’re good to go.

Theoretically, your money is now safe. Pickpockets can’t get to you, and it can’t accidentally drop out of your pockets or get left behind while you’re running for your train.

However, there are some downsides. Access to a travel money belt is — by design — tricky. But that means it’s also hard, and time consuming for you to get out the cash or change you need to pay for things. And while you’re fishing around in your money belt you’re advertising the exact location of your money to any interested criminals. Travel money belts can also be pretty hot, constricting and uncomfortable.

Somehow though, all of these downsides aren’t really the biggest issue with travel money belts. Perhaps the more fundamental issue is that we don’t typically pay for our travels solely with cash and travelers checks any more. It’s pretty unusual, therefore, to be carrying a month’s worth of travel money on departure. If you’re planning on paying for your trip with a mix of small amounts of cash, debit or credit cards and mobile payments, you probably don’t need an entire belt to get by.

All that said — there are some good reasons why a travel money belt might be a handy travel item, even today. If you’re erring on the side of carrying one, we’ll take a look at how to choose, and some good options to pick from, next.

Things to consider when getting a travel money belt

So, travel money belts may not be a necessity for every traveler — but there are still some who won’t leave home without one. If that’s you, then here are some things to consider when you buy.

Your destination

Where you’re headed and what you’ll be doing may influence the belt that works for you. Specialist travel belts designed for running may be better for active holidays — and if you’re headed somewhere hot you’ll probably want to look for a design which won’t get too sweaty. Similarly if you’re headed somewhere that heavy rain is likely, pick a waterproof design or take steps to make sure your valuables aren’t soaked.

Features: material, color, waistband

When selecting a travel money belt you’ll want to consider the material it’s made from, looking at both comfort and functionality. Choosing a neutral or dark colour is probably best if you’ll be keeping it under your clothing. And it’s also worth checking that the waistband and fastenings will be comfortable if you’ll be up close and personal with your belt all day.

Convenience and comfort

Depending on how you expect to use your travel money belt, you may need to prioritize convenient access, and comfort. If you’ll be wearing your belt all day, comfort may be your number one consideration. However, if you’ll likely need to dip in and out of the belt to access things during the day, you’ll probably want to look more at a belt which has convenient ways to discreetly get your stuff.

Security measures: RFID

Many travel money belts and wallets offer RFID blocking technology. This is designed to stop thieves skimming your bank cards or passport using an RFID device. While it is technically possible that someone will sneak up behind you and try to compromise your personal data, the reality is that they’re unlikely to get anything useful to them.

Even if they scan your bank card they don’t have the CVV code for an online transaction, for example — making this a pretty small risk. If you’re worried do take a look at the specialist RFID products out there — but can come at a higher price point, so research the benefits thoroughly before you buy.

What is RFID?

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID technology is used in lots of helpful ways — but where you’ll likely hear about RFID and wallets is usually to do with RFID skimming. This is where thieves use an RFID scanner to read information from a distance, such as your credit card number. Not good — and obviously not legal. However, RFID skimming doesn’t necessarily pose much of a real-world threat these days. The information thieves can theoretically get is unlikely to be enough on its own to push through a transaction, making it pretty useless.

All that said, if you’re worried about RFID skimming you’ll be able to find a broad range of RFID wallets and travel money belts which have built in blocks which stop thieves compromising your data.

Price ranges

Finally, expect to find a broad range of prices when you look at travel money belts. From a basic design which will cost only a few dollars, to fancy specialist products with extra features, hand tooled leather belts made by craftsmen, and big travel brands where you’ll pay a premium for the quality associated with the name — it’s all out there.

Travel money belt reviews

There’s a huge range of travel money belts available, so doing some research before you buy will be essential. Here are a few travel money belt options to start you off:

MoKo Secure Travel Money Belt¹

If you’re looking for a simple, cheap travel money belt that does the job, take a look at MoKo. At the time of writing the Moko travel money belt — which is RFID blocking — has a 4.6 star rating on Amazon from hundreds of reviews, and retails at under 12 dollars. It’s breathable, water resistant and adjustable, with 3 pockets. Basically everything you need in a travel belt. You can’t really go wrong.

Active Roots Security Belt²

This travel belt is designed to look like — well, a belt. If you just want a place to stash some emergency money you don’t need a lot of space, so this is a neat way to hide your cash in a clothing item you’d already be wearing. There’s a simple but effective inner pocket on the belt itself to keep your money or emergency contact details safe — and at the time of writing it’ll set you back under 11 dollars.

Samsonite RFID Waist Belt³

If your priority is buying a brand you know and trust, this may be a good choice. The design is pretty basic, and available in 2 colours. It’s lightweight for convenience and to make it easier to hide under clothing — and has RFID blocking technology built in.

Peak Gear RFID Money Belt⁴

This premium quality money belt is in a traditional style, with RFID blocking, waterproof material. Best of all though, it comes with theft insurance and ReturnMe decals which can be stuck on items like passports. If you lose the item and it’s found, ReturnMe will help get it back to you, no matter where it was lost.


The Flipbelt was designed for runners, but is also a good travel belt option, especially if you’re planning on being active. The belt is moisture wicking and quick drying, can be thrown in the washing machine easily, and has separate pockets for organisation. Step into the belt like a pair of pants, and it’s stretchy enough to forget about it. Buy a dark option if you want it to be discreet — but you can also wear it over clothing if you prefer, and choose a brighter color — it doesn’t look like a travel belt, so it won’t mark you out as a tourist even if it’s on show.

Advantages and disadvantages of the money belt

The debate is still well and truly on about whether a travel money belt is worth using. Before you make up your mind, check out these pros and cons to help you figure out if it’s time to ditch the belt for your next trip:

✅ Pros❎ Cons
  • Travel money belts may offer a sense of security
  • You could use a money belt to keep day to day cash separate from emergency money or cards
  • A money belt can be a handy place to store documents you can’t afford to lose
  • Your money belt could be used like a second wallet, and hidden in a secure place rather than worn most of the time
  • Money belts are built for carrying large amounts of cash — which isn’t common or necessary any more
  • Most travel belts are uncomfortable and sweaty to wear
  • Getting cash out of your money belt can leave you vulnerable to thieves
  • Keeping all your valuables in one place isn’t necessarily a smart plan

Alternatives to travel money belts

So if not a travel money belt, what’s the alternative? Let’s take a look.


One of the main reasons travel money belts were designed is to protect you when you're carrying around high volumes of cash. One simple way to remove the need for a travel money belt is to find different ways to pay while you’re abroad — like the Wise international account and card.

Getting an international debit card which offers the mid-market exchange rate means you can pay by card, and make ATM withdrawals as you go. There’s no need to carry around lots of cash — which means you’re less of a target for thieves. And because the Wise card can be managed from your smartphone, you’ll always be able to freeze it when it’s not in use, making it useless to thieves — and then unfreeze it when you’re ready.

🚀 Travel smart with Wise

Pants or scarves with zippered pockets

In most cases, travelers are still going to have a small number of valuables they need to protect. So even if you’re not a travel money belt fan, buying pickpocket proof clothing makes a lot of sense. This might be as simple as looking for pants which have zips or even velcro to secure pockets — or you might prefer to choose specially designed travel pants or accessories from a specialist, like Clothing Arts⁶.

Fanny packs

A fanny pack is another practical alternative for keeping your valuables close when you’re out and about. It’s not likely to be as secure as a money belt, and you’ll need to keep an eye on your essentials as the pack will be on view. Don’t risk spinning it round to your back, and be wary of pickpockets who may slash a bag they believe is packed with goodies to get easy access.

If you want to check out smart travel fanny pack options, specialists like PacSafe⁷ make anti-theft fanny packs which come with some handy features.

Common questions about the money belt

Still in two minds about getting a travel money belt? Here are the answers to some common questions you may have:

What do you put in a money belt?

Your money belt is intended to keep your valuables and essentials safe. You can use it for pretty much anything small and portable enough to fit, but items usually stored include:

  • Larger cash bills
  • Travelers checks
  • Spare or emergency bank cards
  • Passport
  • Essential travel documents like vaccine details
  • Your itinerary and emergency contact information

It’s worth finding a way to keep everything inside your belt clean and dry — if the pockets aren’t waterproof use a small plastic bag. And while your travel belt is intended to be theft proof, it’s worth considering what you’d do if it was stolen.

Keep a second copy of essential information or documents elsewhere, and make sure you have access to your card issuer’s emergency numbers and a source of emergency cash — just in case.

Are money belts easy to wear?

While the design of your preferred money belt will make a difference, travel money belts are designed to sit close to the skin, under clothing — and as a result need to be fastened tightly. This can be constricting — and hot if you’re somewhere tropical, too.

Some people prefer to spin their belt round so the bulk of the material sits against their back instead of over the stomach — this may be more comfortable. Just make sure the belt is invisible or it won’t serve its purpose.

If you really want to use a money belt, but the traditional design doesn’t work for you, you can also look at neck pouch type wallets, travel wallets that fit on your belt loop, or which fasten around your leg.

How do you clean a money belt?

Check the instructions on your chosen money belt to see how best to clean it. Basic designs can be washed along with clothing easily.

Can you wear a money belt through airport security?

You’ll most likely need to take off your money belt if you’re passing through airport security gates. While belts which do not contain metal may not set off the gate alarms, the security officers are likely to ask you to remove it for scanning, or have it checked by hand.

Travel belts are a thing of the past. Meet Wise

Traveling with a large amount of cash can be risky — and you’ll not necessarily get the best deal available on currency exchange, either. Instead, choose the Wise international account and card.

The Wise Multi-currency Account lets you hold 50+ currencies, and switch between them with the real mid-market exchange rate — offering a much better, more transparent deal than you’ll find in an airport or city currency exchange.

Open your Wise account online for free, top up in dollars and switch to the currencies you need online or in the Wise app. Then use your Wise card to spend and make ATM withdrawals as you travel, so you know you’re getting the best rate for currency exchange, and you don’t need to carry stacks of cash.

You can even use your phone to make mobile payments through Apple Pay or Google Pay, if you’d prefer to leave home with only the essentials.

  • Withdraw local currency using the real exchange rate as you go — so you don’t need to carry lots of cash at any time
  • Manage your card in the Wise app and get instant transaction notifications
  • Freeze your card when you’re not using it — unfreeze in the app when you want to
  • Authorise payments with 3-D Secure authentication, and have the support of the Wise anti-fraud team 24/7

Keep your money safe with Wise

Travel money belts may still be useful at times — and they can help you stay organised and feel more confident your valuables are safe. Whether or not you need a travel money belt will vary depending on your personal preferences, and the type of trip you’re taking. But wherever you’re headed, it’s good to know you can save money risk-free, with the Wise international account and card. Whatever you decide on the travel money belt debate, check out Wise today.


  1. Amazon - MoKo
  2. Active Roots - Security belt
  3. Samsonite - Waist belt
  4. Get Peak Gear - RFID block money belt
  5. Flip Belt - Flip belt for travel
  6. Clothing Arts
  7. Pacsafe - Waist packs

Sources checked on 10.26.2021

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money without borders

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location