Why You Should Place An Apple AirTag In Your Wallet
For travelers, we all know the quivering fear of misplacing our most prized possessions, whether it be a driver’s license, physical cash, social security card or even your COVID vaccine card. Losing any of these while while traveling overseas can cause an emotional rollercoaster, causing you to have to put a halt to your plans and begin figuring out ways to recover your lost belongings, all while finding easy replacements becomes a rocket science task.
For starters, Apple AirTags are amazing and may be one of the best investments for any seasoned traveler, simply because you’ll always have peace of mind knowing you’ll be able to track your most prized possessions.
Before I get into why it’s a good reason to have in your wallet, let me go into a quick summarization of how they work.
- Size: Apple AirTags are small puck devices that’s 1.26" inches in diameter, discreet and easy enough to be placed or inserted inside of nearly anything.
- Batteries: AirTags run off CR2032 batteries, which is on average 10–12 months of the lifespan of an AirTag on one battery. Batteries are replaceable.
- Connectivity: AirTags solely rely on Bluetooth connection. There is no built-in GPS chip nor Wi-Fi .
- Compatibility: AirTags work best with any iOS device that has a U1 Chip because they have the “Precision Finding” feature which makes it easy to track AirTags. They do work with iPhones that don’t have the U1 chip, but the accurate ‘Precision Finding’ feature isn’t available.
The U1 chip is a small radio transmitter that uses “Ultrawide Band” (UWB) radio waves to locate the exact position of devices. Unlike Bluetooth-based proximity detection, which tries to see what’s nearby by looking at the strength of the signal, the U1 chip can determine extremely precise location information by calculating the time it takes for radio waves to bounce from one device to another at the speed of light. In short, it’s like a radar chip that can signal and detect other chips of the same type, which goes better in-depth on the visualization below.
Which iOS devices have the U1 chip? (click here to find out)
- Tracking Range: Apple hasn’t officially released data on the distance range of an AirTag, but because they supposedly supports Bluetooth 5.0, it’s four times stronger than the original Bluetooth, meaning it can reach approximately 800 feet in range.*
*BUT 800 feet is NOT the limit! (This is where it gets interesting)
AirTags can actually post their location to your FindMy App through nearby iPhones (almost like how an encrypted mobile ad hoc network would work).
The AirTag sends out a Bluetooth signal that’s captured by a random person’s iOS device that happens to be within range, and then reported straight to you, all without strangers knowing it happened.
It’s entirely secure, encrypted and does not affect the security of that stranger’s iPhone. Their phone is not only safe, but their battery life or data isn’t affected either. So basically, the more Bluetooth devices within a given area, the better it is in tracking an AirTag.
For whatever reason if the location of your AirTag hasn’t been updated and you’re not able to track it — Don’t fret. Simply enable ‘Lost Mode’, and you’ll receive a notification once it has been located by someone’s nearby iOS device.
Lastly, if the AirTag isn’t within range of your device or any devices in the Find My network, you can view its last known location and timestamp.
Reasons to place an AirTag in your wallet:
- Pickpocketing still happens in many countries and you’d be surprised how good thieves are, to the point where elaborate groups work together to steal your belongings (and your wallet is commonly one of them). From someone who bumps into you while you’re so distracted in who did it, by the time you refocus, your wallet is gone. Thankfully, there may be a matter of seconds to minutes to where you can track your wallet or even more time. By placing your AirTag in the lowest crevice where your credit cards commonly go (and depending on the design of the wallet) some thieves are in a rush to find the obvious: anything shaped like a credit card or cash — before they toss or drop the wallet and go on their merry way. Not all is lost though. Some inexperienced thieves likely just hold on to your entire wallet, making it easier for you to track them.
Optional tip? Although I recommend a traditional wallet, you can buy wallets that are designed specifically for AirTags. I personally love the wallets that don’t contain the Apple logo on them because if a clever thief even knows there’s a tracking device in their wallet, he’s more likely to grab the cash or credit cards, toss the wallet and dispose of it and make like a fetus and “head out”.
2. Misplaced or lost wallet: I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a wallet on the ground at the airport. People are checking in and checking out so fast, the airport is the most common place to misplace or lose your wallet especially when you’re reaching for your driver’s license for the security check-in process. I’ve also seen some still in the bins at the security conveyor belt.
If you can’t find your stuff near you, you can easily see where your AirTag and your items are by following the indications on your iPhone 11, iPhone 12 or iPhone 13. What happens if someone found your wallet at the airport and wishes to return it? There’s an option for that! Apple added a feature that lets other people use their smartphones to identify your AirTag to find who it belongs to, whether if it’s an iPhone or an Android.
Android users simply tap their phone to the AirTag (as long as their phone is NFC-enabled), which’ll open a website link providing them your contact information.
If someone happens to find your AirTag, that name and number will show up when they scan the AirTag.
3. Did you forget to take your wallet out when you went swimming at the beach? This is the least (and very unlikely) situation, but I don’t leave stones unturned. Losing your wallet in the ocean or pool while swimming is still a possibility.
If your wallet was in your pocket and water got in contact with the AirTag, thankfully it’s water-resistant. They’ve been tested under controlled laboratory conditions with a rating of IP67 under IEC standard 60529 (maximum depth of 1 meter up to 30 minutes).
If you’re on the beach and paranoid of leaving your wallet by your beach towel, some people are prone to keeping their wallets in their swim trunks and of course, that leaves the possibility of your wallet drifting off into the ocean, or falling to the bottom of the pool. Whatever the case, it’s still trackable even in those conditions, but that all varies based on how used and aged the AirTag is.
It’s also dust resistant. If got submerged in sand, it would also be trackable.
4. What’s the best reason to have an Apple AirTag in your wallet? (the best reason?) — to prevent getting stranded in a foreign country of course!
This has happened to me before and it’s a long process that takes several hours.
Long story short, if you’re a US citizen and you lose all your money, documentation and credit cards and you become stranded, you’re last hope is heading to a US embassy. From there, you’ll have to go through the tedious process of checking in and being given what’s called a repatriation loan. That loan covers the cost of your flight back to the US. It may also include expenditures for some food and covering the cost of staying at a local hotel/hostel for the night, depending on when your flight takes place. That loan of course has to be paid back.
An Apple AirTag could have prevented this debacle, so I hope you’ll consider one now.
Beyond all of this I’ve mentioned, the reason I went more in-depth into wallets than luggage cases or keys, is because the wallet is the most common thing to get lost when traveling to a foreign country. It contains literally everything ranging from your driver’s license, credit cards, COVID-vaccination card, and more. Furthermore, it’s the hardest thing to recover when your traveling through multiple countries.