Minimalist wallets are quite literally the way of the future. In a world where electronic transactions have become the norm, where every cash register is replaced with a POS terminal, there’s less and less need for traditional bulky wallets.
Long gone are the days when you needed to carry a thick wad of cash in your wallet. Nowadays, a credit or two can take care of all payments you need to do during the day. This begs the question, what is the most efficient type of wallet for this modern lifestyle?
Well, minimalist wallets certainly make a strong case for that title. These types of wallets are defined by a few traits: they are paper thin, sleek and stylish, barely weigh anything, and help you stay organized in a true minimalist fashion. They are one of the best everyday-carry items for the modern day and age and can very well be the next best investment in your future self.
But how do you actually use a minimalist wallet? Are they that much different than an old traditional wallet? And what exactly can you put in such a wallet? This guide explains it all.
How to use a minimalist wallet?
These are the steps to using a minimalist wallet:
- use as little cash as possible
- shop mostly with your cards
- remove unnecessary clutter, such as coupons, old receipts, and business cards
- only carry the most essential cards and contents you need during the day
- keep important info, such as business cards or paper slips digitalized on your phone
- only buy a wallet with features that you are actually going to use
What step should you take before buying a minimalist wallet?
Like any other transition in life, no matter how simple it may be, it’s always good to start with a few small preparations. Switching from a classic old wallet to a minimalist one also requires a couple of steps that you need to take before making your final choice.
Define what you want from your new wallet
As simple as it may sound, defining the precise purpose of the wallet you buy is crucial. First and foremost, this means settling down on the few essential credit cards, your ID, and other entry cards, if you use any.
Next, you need to decide what type of wallet would you like and need personally. For example, do you need a simple cardholder with only a couple of pockets, or a more spacious one that can hold dozens of cards and banknotes?
You need to decide on the wallet’s materials too, as well as what features do you want in your wallet. There are hundreds of minimalist wallets made from many different materials such as leather, aluminum, steel, plastic, and carbon fiber, each with its own unique set of pros and cons.
When it comes to features, the market is filled with tactical wallets that come with a built-in bottle opener, carabiner, key ring, quick-access mechanisms, and whatnot, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
Trimming down the contents of your wallet is an absolute priority. As hard as it is to ditch some of the stuff you carry in it (and believe me, I know the struggle), you can’t go all minimalist if you still keep tons of unnecessary cards, receipts, and business cards in your wallet.
A handy trick I always recommend is to simply take a picture of the cards and information that you need the most and keep them digitalized on your phone, instead of letting them clutter your wallet. Today, we have many ways to keep our data safe and in hand’s reach on our smartphones, so there’s literally no need to keep all this stuff in your pocket.
If you want the complete guide on how to declutter your wallet with all of the secret tips and tricks and hacks, check out my article on how to slim down your wallet.
Choose your style
It goes without saying that you must match your wallet with your clothing style. A person who dresses ultra casually every day will have very different style preferences from a person who spends their days in professional dresses or suit-and-tie attires.
Pick your ideal wallet design
Once you’ve done the first three steps, you will next need to choose your ideal wallet design.
Minimalist wallets come in several different shapes and forms. There are straightforward one-fold wallets, made of a single fabric with a couple of pockets stitched all around it. Then there are the classic bifold wallets, very much similar to the traditional ones, as well as the trifold models which put a little twist on this folding design. You can choose between wallets with inner or outer pockets, a cash band, or a money clip.
Choosing the right wallet design is important because it will have an effect on how much storage you get, what features it will have, and how handy will the wallet be.
Choose your price range
The final unskippable and probably most obvious step is to decide how much money can you actually spend on your next wallet.
Minimalist wallets can cost anywhere from $10 up to $300, so deciding on a price range prior to buying will help you narrow the choices down to the ones you can afford. Here is a quick rundown of what can you expect from wallets in each price range.
|Price type||Price range||What can you expect?|
|Affordable||$10 – $39||mostly leather one-fold and plastic, lower-quality materials, lower durability, |
great options as spare wallets with a modest capacity
|Medium priced||$40 – $79||the largest portion of minimalist wallets belong here; lots of great options from reliable brands, wallets in this range are made of all kinds of materials and come with various feature packages|
|High-end||$80 – $149||premium materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, and carbon fiber, featureful tactical models, and highly durable wallets with a lifetime warranty|
|Premium||$150+||only a few high-end models, made from materials with utmost quality such as titanium,|
high-grade aluminum, woven carbon fiber, diamond-infused leather, etc.
How to use different types of minimalist wallets?
The surface-level answer is that using a minimalist wallet is not that different from using a classic one. It’s the same item with the same purpose, just thinner and somewhat more restrictive.
However, every type of minimalist wallet has its own unique characteristics and there are a couple of tricks to using each and every one of them. Here is how to use some of the most popular types of minimalist wallets.
How to use a one-fold wallet?
One-fold wallets are the most basic type of wallets out there. They are typically made of leather or metal and come as a single-piece frame with pockets stacked on top of it.
Thanks to this rather simple design, you can mostly use these types of wallets only as cardholders. Some models have a separate pocket for cash bills as well, but that’s a rare occurrence. The upside here is that you always have quick access to all your cards, as there aren’t any closing mechanisms or unique features found here.
I recommend always storing only one card in each pocket to protect them from damaging.
How to use a bifold wallet?
Everyone has owned a bifold wallet at some point in their life. Most people, probably even you, own one right at this moment. The only difference between a classic and a minimalist bifold wallet is in the capacity.
In order to make it thinner, minimalist wallet designers cut down on miscellaneous pockets, such as multiple transparent pockets and ID windows, and wide cash compartments. What you end up with is an ultra-thin wallet with a capacity of around 5-12 cards and a couple of bills.
Most of the best bifold wallets allow you to store multiple cards in each pocket as they are a bit sturdier than their one-fold counterparts. If you are completely new to the minimalist wallet world, I recommend starting with a bifold model as they are the closest thing you can get to your old wallet.
How to use a trifold wallet?
Trifold wallets are not much different than bifold ones. All you get is an extra folding section at the expense of making each section narrower.
These wallets often come with a closing mechanism, usually a snap button, and have their card slots placed vertically instead of horizontally like in the classic models. Additionally, trifold wallets almost always have an extra flat section for bills, so they are a great option for people who use cash regularly.
How to use a tactical wallet?
Tactical wallets are where things get a bit tricky.
Having small tactical gear tools in your pocket is not a new concept. After all, swiss army knives have been around for more than 100 years. But combining these tools with your wallet to get a single multifunctional EDC item is a fairly new trend.
Since the rise in popularity of tactical wallets, few brands, such as Dango and Ridge, have taken the throne and established themselves as the best in the industry. These wallets come in many different versions, with features ranging from a simple attaching point, and bottle openers, all the way to steel multitools and practical camping gear.
The best way you can utilize a tactical wallet is, obviously, by going camping or on any other adventures in the wild. You will hardly find any use for a rope tightener in the urban city areas. Cyclers, rock climbers, and all other adventurists will find the best use of tactical minimalist wallets.
You can use these types of wallets to have a bottle opener nearby at all times, to attach them to your bike or backpack and ride with ease, or even get yourself a wallet with a built-in comb and always have your hair neatly groomed.
How to use wallets with money clips?
The money clip is probably one of the trickiest features minimalist wallet owners have struggled with.
They are undoubtedly an efficient way to keep a couple of bills in your wallet without reserving a separate pocket for them. But as handy as they are, new users have often struggled to strap their bills safely inside the metal clip.
The right way to use a money clip is to fold the bills once and strap them with the folded end of the wad facing the curve of the clip. This way, the bills will stay intact even if you shake or drop your wallet.
You can find many different types of money clips on minimalist wallets, but I would recommend the ones with steel clips attached on the inside as the best ones. Also, make sure to check out my guide on the best money wallets if you want a more complete picture of this product’s landscape.
How to use wallets with elastic money bands?
Another alternative for carrying bills on a minimalist wallet is to strap them on an elastic band. If your favorite wallet doesn’t have a separate pocket for cash, and you don’t like the idea of a clip, then you can always get wallets with bands tied around them, or even attach one yourself.
This feature is much simpler as you can strap your bills on a band however you like and they will stay in place no matter what. You can even tie the band around the wallet, on the outer walls, and it will still be a safe way to keep your cash.
What can you carry in a minimalist wallet?
Most minimalist wallets can only hold your credit cards, your ID, a metro card, gym membership, or any other cards you need to use daily. Some models have an additional pocket for cash too, but even that is becoming rarer with each new series.
If you want to be extra safe from thieves or are afraid of losing your wallet, you can also attach a tracking chip that will show the location of your wallet at all times. But aside from your few essential cards and a couple of useful features, there is nothing else you can or need to carry in a minimalist wallet.
Is it safe to place credit cards in one pocket?
Leather wallets are always safe and won’t damage your cards at all. However, many thin wallets often come with one-card slots, meaning you can’t stuff more than one card in each pocket. Putting two or more cards will widen the pockets too much, and probably even tear them up.
When it comes to wallets made of hard materials like plastic or metal, things can be a little different. While you will be able to stuff as many cards as you can in their pockets, there’s a high chance that the harsh walls will damage your credit cards if you overstuff them.
There have been some cases where lower-quality steel wallets have scratched the credit cards, and in some cases, even the chips, damaging them beyond repair. But it’s important to note that this only happens with cheaper wallets with terrible material quality, and only after you put too many cards in one pocket.
Also, keep in mind that you might demagnetize your cards if their magnetic strips touch against each other. This is a rare occurrence, but it is still possible and something that you might want to watch out for.
Still, if you’re too worried about damaging your cards, I recommend getting a leather wallet or a hard-shell one coated with soft materials on the inside. There are minimalist wallets out there that are made of plastic on the outside but have soft leather or wool inside and around the pockets.
Where should you keep your minimalist wallet?
The best thing about minimalist wallets is that they are very small and compact. You can keep them anywhere you like. You can fit one in your front pocket, in a coat pocket, in a small pouch, or you can even hang your wallet on a belt or backpack if it has any attachment points.
Is it safe to keep a wallet in your front pocket?
You can, and absolutely should prefer to keep your wallet in your pocket whenever you can. In fact, this is one of my biggest reasons for switching to a minimalist wallet. Because they are much thinner and narrower than classic wallets, most minimalist models make the perfect front pocket wallets.
In the past, I used to carry my wallet in my back pocket. It was the only way, really. Even if you tried very hard, it was nearly impossible to fit it upfront. And this has led to two major problems.
One, I couldn’t sit right with a bulky brick in my pocket, so I had to take it out whenever I sat in a cafe, a restaurant, in my car, or when I hoped on a bike. The second, much bigger issue, was that wallets in a back pocket are much more attractive targets to pickpockets. Whenever I found myself in a large crowd, I tapped my pocket every minute to see if everything is still in there.
But when your wallet is roughly as big as a credit card and no thicker than your phone, it’s much easier to just put it in your front pocket and resolve both issues at once.
Is it safe to sit on your wallet?
Keeping your wallet in your back pocket is a bit more delicate. Whether you can sit on your wallet or not will mostly depend on one thing – its materials.
Sitting on metal, or even a plastic wallet is pretty troublesome. No matter how small or thin the product, these rough materials will make you feel pressure, and probably even make your posture worse.
Leather wallets, on the other hand, are more comfortable to sit on but posses a bigger risk to damage your cards, or even the wallet’s surface. This largely comes down to the quality of the leather, so if you plan on going for a cheaper wallet I would also advise you to keep it in the front pockets.
In conclusion – try to avoid sitting on your wallet whenever you can, especially if it’s made from metal, plastic, or low-quality leather.
Best minimalist wallets
Some of the best minimalist wallets today are:
- Dango A10 Adapt Titanium Bifold
- Trayvax Original 2.0
- Secrid Twinwallet
- Dango D02 Dapper
- Harber London Leather Bifold
- Bellroy Travel
- Ridge Premium
- Bellroy Zip
- Secrid Cardprotector
- Dango T02 Tactical Titanium Pen
Make sure to check out my complete guide on the best minimalist wallets for men as well as the best minimalist wallets for women to get a better idea of what are the best models.