Every experienced traveler has been in this situation before: about to pay for a meal in the airport and suddenly at a loss. Where could your credit card be? Whether it’s sitting safely at home or it’s in the hands of an industrious pickpocket, it’s certainly not of any help to you. Industry insiders hope they have an answer to this dilemma: the mobile wallet. Rather than carrying around your credit cards, you’ll upload and verify your credit card information to an application on your smart phone and simply scan your phone at checkout. This is great for travelers because you’ll always have access to the credit card with the best miles for your needs.

To pay with a true “mobile wallet,” both the register and phone will need to be equipped with an NFC chip. Only about 3% of the smart phones used in America are currently NFC-equipped. Many stores already have payment options that allow you to scan a barcode to trigger an online payment, or use your phone to make an online payment to the register. As more and more people begin to pay with some version of a mobile wallet, the technology will become more common. Because most of the population of the US has access to stable banking, they have little incentive to choose new payment methods, but the sheer convenience factor makes mobile wallets a great pick.

The truth is that there is an incentive to move towards mobile payment: it could be a fantastic security measure for those traveling with several cards. While some have safety concerns about the cyber-security aspect of handling all transactions online, experts say that it should be easy enough to secure the process against hackers.

The Google Wallet application is the most popular of these types of applications so far, precisely because it’s so secure. Should you lose your phone, you can remotely disable the application to ensure that pickpockets won’t be rewarded with your credit card information, and unlike travelling with physical credit cards, you won’t have to cancel everything amid a stressful attempt to prevent identity theft. Surveys have found that around 48% of people are excited about moving to a wireless form of payment, and travelers should be eager to get behind this technology as well. Start looking for stores that will let you pay with your phone, and you’ll be in for a smooth ride.

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Image: The Verge