Have you wondered whether you’re able to carry your wallet through airport security areas when traveling? In my experience, at any airport, one can never be too careful. In fact, in most airports, you’ll frequently hear an announcer’s voice reminding you to keep a close eye on your belongings, not to take any bags or items from other individuals, and not to leave your luggage unattended.
What about going through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security screening area? Most of us aren’t entirely comfortable with leaving our personal items out of our sight as they go through the X-ray conveyor belt, but it’s one of those things we’ve just learned to live with.
When it actually comes to walking through the scanners at airport security, you have to take all items out of your pockets and place them in the bins that will go through security separately from you. This includes your wallet, keys, cell phone, boarding pass, chapstick, etc.
If you have flown recently you’ve probably become accustomed to emptying your pockets, taking electronics out of carry-on bags, removing belts, shoes, etc., and placing all these things in the bin to go through the screening process.
If you’re uncomfortable just tossing your wallet into a bin, there are things you can do to at least ease your mind somewhat. Read on to find out ways to avoid delays while traveling.
Does Airport Security Check Your Wallet?
“Can I carry my wallet through airport security?” As I previously mentioned, travelers are advised to take out ALL items from pockets, from one’s person, electronic devices from carry-ons, etc. This includes coins, phones, belts, shoes, and wallets, in order to allow them to be properly scanned.
Truth be told, though TSA agents have the authority to search through your wallet, it is none of their concern how much cash you are carrying with you. There are no legal restrictions for the amount of cash you can carry on your person while traveling domestically. Or internationally, for that matter, up to $10,000 USD. Travelers are required to declare to U.S. Customs if they’re carrying over $10,000, and they’ll likely ask you why.
Keep in mind that while you do have the right to carry large amounts of cash, such activities may arouse suspicion in TSA agents (i.e., suspicions of drug trafficking or money laundering, for example), and prompt them to continue asking you questions. They do not have any jurisdiction to arrest you, but they can refer you to law enforcement authorities if they feel they need to, even if you’re truly not doing anything illegal. Your best strategy is to be cooperative with them, as this can help you get through screenings more quickly and help you avoid travel delays.
Do You Have to Put Your Wallet in a Bin?
I’d always recommend placing your wallet inside your carry-on bag as you go through the security screening process. In fact, post-COVID TSA guidelines indicate a preference for travelers to not place all types of items into bins, as a safety precaution (since the bins are considered to be public “common use” items.
Simply place your items like keys, wallets, cell phones, lip balm, etc. into your carry-on bag as you put it on the conveyor belt. You may also consider packing certain such items in your checked luggage. If you do so with your wallet, be sure to have some loose cash or a credit card on hand for purchases, tips, etc. while you travel.
Can You Carry Cash in Your Pocket Through Airport Security?
Of course, you can. The TSA is authorized to concern itself with the physical security of the airport, other travelers, and the plane you’re traveling on – this is limited to your physical person, and any possible security threats you may be transporting. Remember, TSA agents can’t arrest you, but they can easily refer you to authorities who can, if they suspect any sort of possible legal issues afoot.
Does Airport Security Have the Right to Rifle Through My Wallet?
Sure, they can inspect your wallet or even your cash if there is a suspicion of something amiss, but you can carry as much cash as you want when traveling domestically, and you only have to declare to U.S. Customs cash you’re carrying in amounts of $10,000 USD or more. If your cash or wallet is being inspected, simply request to be physically present so you can observe.
Can You Carry A Wallet with a Chain On a Plane?
This is a bit of a grey area, as some TSA agents might consider a wallet chain to be an item that could potentially be used as a weapon, and other agents might not. Again, it is ultimately up to the TSA agent you’re interacting with whether or not certain items are allowable onto a flight or not.
If you do like wearing your wallet with a chain attached to your belt, you might want to consider packing your chain in your checked luggage, just to be on the safe side (and as always, to help you sidestep avoidable travel delays).
Things you didn’t know you CAN bring on a plane (TSA Guidelines)
The TSA’s “Liquids 3-1-1” Guidelines
Click the links just above to find a list of items you are allowed to board with, restricted items, and the TSA “Liquids 3-1-1” guidelines. Understand that any final decision about what you are allowed to transport is delegated to the TSA officer(s) screening you. When in doubt, always remember to be as accommodating and cooperative as possible in order to avoid avoidable travel delays.
If you’d like to transport an item not specifically mentioned on the TSA’s list, send your questions (and/or photos) to AskTSA on Facebook Messenger or Twitter. TSA is available to respond to your inquiries between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET M-F, and between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
I have also written dozens of articles about the nuances of where and how to pack certain items you may have questions about. Here are a few of them:
Can I Carry My Wallet Through Airport Security?
Not exactly. TSA asks travelers passing through the security checkpoint to remove just about everything from his or her person (including wallets, belts, shoes, etc.). There are a couple of exceptions: TSA agents will usually be OK with you keeping your boarding pass and/or passport in your hand as you are screened.
As always, remember to follow all general safety protocols and to cooperate with officials by following directions. You should be fine and be able to travel safely.