Aluma Wallet: Not as indestructible as they claim

Gregory D. Cook, Photographer

We are over a decade into the 21st century, and what was the science fiction of yesterday is quickly becoming the commonplace of today. While science seems to have fallen behind on its promise of flying cars, the Telebrands company of Fairfield, N. J. claims that the new Aluma Wallet is the 21st century upgrade for the good old-fashioned wallets and billfolds that our grandparents used to use.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend throwing away that old leather wallet in your purse, or that billfold you made out of Duct Tape at camp yet, because while the Aluma Wallet is long on promises, it comes up woefully short when put to the test.

In its late-night television commercials, the Aluma Wallet boasts that it is the solution for bulky, disorganized, and out-dated wallets. Its packaging proclaims it the “indestructible aluminum wallet,” and among its many qualities, it claims to be water resistant and able to protect you from identity theft, by preventing thieves from reading credit card data from your pocket or purse; lofty goals for what basically amounts to an aluminum-covered plastic box.

But being a person that embraces new technology, I carried the uncomfortable hunk of metal around in my back pocket for a week just to get a taste of what the future of wallets has in store for us.

Problem number one for the Aluma Wallet is that it is impossible to look cool pulling money out of a little aluminum box. It just can’t be done, and while this alone should be enough to condemn the product, there other reasons to pass on this one.

One of the immediate downsides of the wallet is its size. The designers of the Aluma Wallet have managed to find the perfect size to make it both too small to hold enough stuff, and yet just big enough to feel like a brick in your pocket.

The inside is divided into eight individual pockets that separate your stuff. This would be a nice feature if they held cards and such securely like the pockets of a normal wallet or billfold, but these pockets merely serve as separators, forcing you to be careful every time you open the thing.

The Aluma Wallet’s size also makes keeping cash in it very inconvenient. Bills have to be folded up to make them small enough to fit into the wallet. And while this might be considered a plus because if you put big bill on the outside it can make even the poor college student look like they have a fat wad of cash, digging through your pimp roll for two dollars to pay for soda while trying not to spill the rest of your stuff out of the wallet gets old fast.

The other big claim made by the Aluma Wallet is that it can protect you from identity theft. Many banks are incorporating radio-frequency identification technology into their credit cards these days, and there is a growing fear that these cards may be read from a distance without the owner’s knowledge.

The Aluma Wallet claims to block unwanted scans due to the fact that it encases your cards in aluminum; yes, just like wearing a foil hat keeps the government out of your head.

There is some actual science behind this, but in order for it to work, your cards must be completely surrounded, the Aluma Wallet has plastic edges, and the whole thing would have to be electronically grounded, and the Aluma Wallet is not. Its protective abilities are doubtful at best.

And finally, just how “indestructible!” can a plastic box covered with a thin sheet of aluminum be? Well within a few hours, my butt had already managed to put a noticeable dent in the side of the Aluma Wallet.

But to be fair, a dent isn’t destruction. In the commercial, a truck runs over the wallet and it comes away looking brand new. To my surprise, the Aluma Wallet survived being run over several times by my truck but then so would a regular wallet.

Wallets in general are flat to begin with, and immune to the threat of further flattening. In the end, my Aluma Wallet succumbed to a drop on its side from about waist level that broke its plastic hinge.

While ladies might find some use for this holding cards and such in their purses, the Aluma Wallet is in no way a suitable replacement for my trusty old scratched and battered tri-fold billfold. I guess the future of wallets will have to wait a little longer.