Money clips aren’t something new and revolutionary. They have been used ever since the first wallet was put to market centuries ago. But they have seen a huge rise in popularity over the last decade, as every corner of the fashion industry is slowly turning towards minimalism.
Facing the traditional folding wallet as their biggest competitor, money clips never really saw the light of day. They were never the preferred method of keeping cash in your pockets, even though they are, in many ways, much handier.
So, if you recently thought of switching your old wallet for a clip, it’s understandable to have some questions and concerns about their use, benefits, and drawbacks. In this article, we will compare wallets and money clips in detail, and outline all of the pros and cons each one provides. This will hopefully clarify a lot of concerns in your head and help you in finding the perfect money carrier you can use for years to come.
What is the difference between a wallet and a money clip?
Looking at it in a literal sense, every item meant to hold your money can be a wallet. A pouch, a pin, a small bag, or even a money clip is technically a wallet as its sole purpose is to keep your bills in place.
But throughout this article, we will distinctly talk about wallets in their traditional sense, as sizeable folding items made of fabric, versus money clips as a minimalist form of a modern wallet.
Having that in mind, we can safely say that a wallet, in this case, is a traditional leather-made (or, lately, metal) item that usually comes in a bifold or a trifold design. It has many pockets and compartments, with space for all kinds of contents: cash bills, credit cards, business cards, receipts, papers, and whatnot.
A money clip, on the other hand, is a thin elongated object, typically made of steel or other sturdy material, mainly designed to hold bills and sometimes a card or two on top of them. Its use is such that it clamps the bills in the middle, holding them intact, but within a hand’s reach. Check out my full guide on how to use a money clip to get a better understanding of the way these items work.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of wallets vs money clips?
When you compare the two items to each other, traditional wallets and money clips come off as completely different types of belongings, even though their purpose is roughly the same. They are both intended to keep your money in place, but thanks to the different approaches in design, each has some advantages and disadvantages of its own.
Some people will always prefer to have a classic wallet in their pockets, while others are more inclined to go for slimmer wallets. Lets us quickly go over the most notable pros and cons of the two items, so you can better decide which one fits you best.
Pros of a wallet
The biggest upside of a wallet over a money clip is, obviously, its capacity. A wallet can hold all kinds of contents inside, not only bills. And even the compartments intended for the banknotes are much larger and with more storage than the biggest money clip out there.
This is especially important as the whole world is slowly shifting towards cashless payment. Every store today accepts credit cards or online payments, and the need for cash is going down each year. In such a world, it would simply be unwise to invest in an item that will become obsolete in the near future.
Another big upside of classic wallets is the fact they hold the money tucked inside and not out in the open like they are on a money clip. There is no fear that the bills might fall off when you take the wallet out, or while it’s in your pocket.
You can take a look at my complete guide on the pros and cons of minimalist wallets if you’re curious to find out more.
Cons of a wallet
The one big downside of having a traditional wallet is that it’s just so much bulkier than, well, any other item you might use for your cash. And this brings many other smaller issues along.
It is uncomfortable to keep it in your pockets, especially if you wear slim pants.
It can diminish the aesthetic and elegance of your outfit.
And it can just be so unnecessarily heavy and filled with junk you don’t really need.
On a similar note, it’s kind of pointless to have a bulky wallet if you only use a couple of cards and a few cash bills throughout the day. In fact, most people really need just their credit card, ID, their driver’s license, and some cash bills just in case. And you can very well fit all of that in a small minimalist holder like a clip instead (although minimalist wallets can also fulfill that need in some cases).
And, in the end, let’s not underplay just how cheaper money clips are compared to wallets. A great, high-quality wallet can cost you up to $100, while a simple hard-metal clip comes at 1/5th or even 1/10th of that cost.
Pros of a money clip
Money clips are truly ultra-thin items. They are so slim and compact, you can literally keep them anywhere you want, and are a great choice if you’re looking to slim down your wallet. Whatever type of clip you get will easily fit into any pocket, front or back, but you can also attach them to other personal items like a belt, phone case, or even another wallet.
Their unique size and design make money clips a very universal thing that can be pulled off in various ways.
Additionally, they come in very cheap, so you can always get one, try it out, and then toss it away if it didn’t quite work for you. They cost so little that there is literally no downside in getting one and just trying it out for a few weeks.
Besides their multifunctionality, money clips are a great way to gradually remove clutter from your wallet and pockets. Since they have a very strict capacity, you will be forced to learn how to live with only a few bare essentials in your daily life.
Even though clips may not seem as safe as a folding wallet at first, you would be surprised to learn that they are a much harder target for pickpocketers than classic wallets. This is because it’s nearly impossible to steal a slim money clip from someone’s pocket without the person noticing. The clip will be so placed tight and deep inside your pocket, and theft will be very difficult.
Cons of a money clip
Arguably the biggest setback with money clips is their fully open design. If you own one, you have to be prepared to flash all your cash to those around whenever you pay for things at the register. This can not only be very uncomfortable for some but can also make you a bigger target for thieves if you keep some big bills in there.
Thanks to their design, money clips also have a very strict capacity which can sometimes be a big burden. A typical money clip can only hold around 5 bills on it, which often may not be enough.
And finally, having a steel object in your pocket is not always the most comfortable feeling, no matter how thin it is. It can sometimes make it unbearable to sit, and may even damage or rip apart the insides of your pockets.
At the end of the day, the decision between a wallet or a money clip is quite simple. If you still use cash and can live with just a couple of cards throughout the day, a money clip will serve you great. Otherwise, I would strongly advise just going for something bigger and more spacious.
Money clips are a great way to go full minimal, but if you aren’t used to having so few items in your “wallet”, then they really are of no use.
There is, however, a silver lining with money clips – they are attachable. You can always get one and use both as a standalone cash carrier, or attach it to your wallet and use both items simultaneously. That way you will enlarge your wallet’s capacity, but you will always be able to remove the clip and use it separately if you don’t want to bother with the bulky wallet for the whole night.