Chances are, if you’re looking to buy a wallet today, you will end up getting a minimalist wallet. I’ve had one for years now, and I’ve explored the topic in great depth, so I can definitely provide you with a useful answer to the question of what are minimalist wallets.
What Is A Minimalist Wallet?
A minimalist wallet is a wallet that is lighter in weight and smaller in size than most traditional wallets. It is often made from aluminum or carbon fiber, but it can also be made from leather. It often comes with some tactical features, most notably RFID blocking. Typically, it will encourage you to only carry your most important cards, just a few bills of cash, and nothing else, and that will be a decision that will simplify your life greatly.
Should I buy a minimalist wallet?
Most people today will definitely want to strongly consider a minimalist wallet, especially people that don’t necessarily have to carry a lot of cards nor a lot of cash on their person. The only exception would be people that, for some reason, still need to carry more than 15 cards and a lot of cash and coins.
In fact, most people today end up buying a minimalist wallet of sorts even if that hasn’t been their initial idea, since traditional, big, bulky wallets are not only going out of style, but they are also becoming very impractical, not to mention they are easier targets for pickpockets, and they can even cause back pain in some cases.
I’ve had a minimalist wallet for about 6 years now (or rather, two of them of the same brand), and I would definitely recommend one to literally everyone I know. In my opinion, there is literally no person today that should go with a big and heavy wallet over a minimalist one.
What you need to know about minimalist wallets
These are the most important answers, ideas, and concepts you need to be aware of if you’re considering getting a minimalist wallet.
How do minimalist wallets work?
Minimalist wallets work almost the same as regular wallets, with the added benefit that they encourage people to truly reevaluate what they are carrying everyday, remove the fluff and clutter from their wallets, and be more efficient and more practical in their day-to-day lives.
The typical minimalist wallet will only provide a limited space for your most important credit or ID cards, as well as a few other types of important cards such as keycards, transport cards, etc. Most wallets will have one compartment where you will keep the cards together, although some will have several different compartments where you can keep the cards separate.
Also, most minimalist wallets will provide you with a way to carry some cash (although not wads of it). Usually, this will be enabled by a feature such as an elastic cash band or a money clip.
However, most minimalist wallets will not provide a way for you to carry coins, and the few ones that do will only allow you to carry several coins at a time in a specialized coin holder.
As you can see, the typical minimalist wallet is geared towards the modern person, as cash is being almost universally replaced by cards worldwide, and coins are actually becoming an annoyance of the past.
How to use minimalist wallets?
When you get your first minimalist wallet, take a long and hard look at the contents of your old wallet. Chances are, you don’t need more than half of what you’ve been carrying, so make sure to leave any redundant cards, as well as business cards or other paper, at home. Also, make sure to only bring a few cash bills with you, and leave your coins at home.
Remember, paper especially is unnecessary, as your phone is a much better storage of information (simply take pictures of business cards you think are important). Also, most of the cards you carry around are probably not necessary to you as well, and neither are coins or a ton of cash.
Based on my experience with minimalist wallets, I believe that this decision alone will make your life a lot easier by providing you quicker access to only the essential cards, and eliminating clutter that is only getting in the way and wasting your time.
The specifics of how to use a minimalist wallet will vary based on the model you have, but typically, you will have quick access to your most important cards, and your cash will also be easily accessible on the outside of the wallet, held either by the cash band or the money clip.
See my complete guide on how to use a minimalist wallet for all of the little tips and tricks.
What do you need to carry in your wallet?
Most people will find that they only need to carry their most important financial cards, their ID or driver’s license (rarely both), and any keycards, access cards, or transportation cards they use daily. Chances are, you don’t even need to carry that much cash with you, let alone any coins. Also, you don’t need to carry any business cards or other paper in your wallet (take pictures of them with your phone if they contain important information).
How much do minimalist wallets weigh?
On average, minimalist wallets weigh around 2 oz / 57.21 g, with the median wallet weighing 1.97 oz / 56 g. Their weight can vary greatly from model to model, however, with the lightest wallet weighing just 0.17 oz / 5 g, and the heaviest one weighing 5 oz / 141 g.
How big are minimalist wallets?
Most minimalist wallets are just a little bit bigger than the standard American credit card, as they are usually made to fit a few of them and not much else. Their thickness is the dimension in which they differ from traditional wallets the most, and they are usually just 0.2 in to 0.6 in / 0.5 cm to 1.5 cm in depth.
What are minimalist wallets made of?
Typically, minimalist wallets have one main building material that is usually either some aluminum alloy, carbon fiber, or leather. Additionally, most wallets will have some steel parts, especially if they have some screws or other tactical features. They may also have some plastic parts as well. The cash band found in some minimalist wallets is made either from rubber or silicon.
If you want to check out the best models for each material, see the following guides:
How much do minimalist wallets cost?
Are minimalist wallets worth it?
Considering that a minimalist wallet will probably make your life a lot simpler, it will clean up the contents of your wallet, it will reduce the amount of stuff you drag around with you daily, it will provide you with quicker access to your most important cards, and it will probably provide you with some extra features such as RFID protection, we can easily say that minimalist wallets are definitely worth it.
How long do minimalist wallets last?
Most of the higher-quality minimalist wallets coming from the top brands will easily last for decades. They usually come with a lifetime warranty, and the vast majority of owners often praise their longevity and durability, with defect rates being very, very low.
Now, keep in mind that minimalist wallets have only been around for a few years, so we still don’t have empirical evidence about their lifespans. Still, based on initial reports, and their lightning-fast rise in popularity, we can safely assume that most of the premium higher-quality minimalist wallets will last for quite a long time, probably decades, and possibly a lifetime, as their warranties suggest.
See my complete guide on how long wallets last for some more detailed information and insights.
Are minimalist wallets safe?
Compared to traditional wallets, minimalist wallets are harder to notice by pickpockets because of their smaller size, and thus are much safer, especially if you’re often found in busy public areas. Also, unlike traditional wallets, most minimalist wallets are also RFID-blocking wallets, which will prevent malicious actors from reading or charging your cards, which further increases the safety of minimalist wallets.
Do minimalist wallets damage credit cards?
In general, minimalist wallets don’t damage credit cards. The only way that cards can get damaged is if you go against the recommendation of the wallet’s brand about the maximum number of cards the wallet can fit, and purposefully overstuff your wallet and cram a much larger number of cards inside of it.
Can minimalist wallets damage your clothing?
The vast majority of minimalist wallets are very small in dimension and have smooth edges, so they will not damage your clothing at all (in fact, large and bulky wallets will probably overstretch your pockets way sooner). However, there is a subset of minimalist wallets that are made from metal and also have a few edges that are not so smooth, and you should definitely be more careful when carrying those models in your pocket.
Types of minimalist wallets
There are several different types of minimalist wallets that you can choose from based on your own needs and preferences:
The standard minimalist wallet will only have one or more compartments for the cards, and a cash band or a money clip.
The bifold minimalist wallet will be foldable in half, and will typically have more compartments for cards. Additionally, some wallets fold at two places, and those are called trifold.
Some minimalist wallets will also have some tactical features, and some will have so many of those, that it will make more sense to call them tactical wallets rather than minimalist wallets.
Also, some minimalist wallets will be so simple in their design, that they will often be called card holders.
Features of minimalist wallets
A lot of minimalist wallets not only come with very small dimensions and light weight, but they can also provide some useful and interesting features, such as:
- RFID blocking
- pull tab / push notch
- cash band
- money clip
- tether / paracord
- adjustable depth
- bottle opener
- glass breaker
- sharp edges / cutting surfaces
- card hole
- attachment hole
- pry bar
- coin pocket
- key holder
- magnetic closure
Do minimalist wallets have RFID blocking?
Most minimalist wallets will have some form of RFID blocking. It will not work 100% in all of them, and in some of them, it will barely work, but it will still provide at least some form of protection. Only a small part of minimalist wallets come with no RFID blocking today.
How many cards do minimalist wallets fit?
On average, minimalist wallets will fit between 10 and 12 cards, with the median number being 12. The smallest card capacity in a minimalist wallet is 6, while the biggest one is 18.
Check out my guide on the best minimalist wallets for many cards if you want to see some great options with that feature.
How much cash do minimalist wallets fit?
Typically, most minimalist wallets will be able to fit around 5 cash bills. Only a handful of models will fit less than that, but there are quite a few models that may fit up to a dozen bills, especially if you don’t have a lot of cards in the wallet at the same time.
How many coins do minimalist wallets fit?
Most minimalist wallet models will provide no ability to carry any coins. Minimalist wallet owners typically carry coins in their pockets. Some models, however, will come with a coin holder or a dedicated coin compartment, but you will probably only be able to keep about half a dozen coins in there.
While most people barely use any coins at all in their day-to-day lives, if you happen to use coins a lot, see my list of the best minimalist wallets for coins.
It is common for minimalist wallets to come with some tactical features that may be very useful to owners in some everyday scenarios, but also in some unexpected situations.
Probably the most famous tactical feature found in a lot of minimalist wallets is RFID blocking. RFID (radio-frequency identification) readers are specialized instruments that thieves can use to read or charge cards while they are in your pocket, and the technology works pretty much in the same way that the card scanners in supermarkets work. When wallets have RFID blocking, they simply prevent the scanners from reading the card information, and thieves will not be able to charge your cards because of this.
One interesting tactical feature found in several minimalist wallets is the bottle opener. It will not be nearly as good as a dedicated tool for the job, but it will usually be enough to get the job done in a pinch.
Another very interesting feature, that may actually end up saving your life, is the glass breaker. This one is not so common, but you can probably imagine a situation where it would be critical to have a glass breaker handy.
Other tactical features found in some minimalist wallets include sharp edges, pry bars, etc.
Check out my guide on the best tactical wallets if you want to see which are the best models currently available.
Pros and cons of minimalist wallets
The main advantages of minimalist wallets include:
- carrying less stuff around
- faster access to your important cards
- carrying less weight
- occupying less space in your pocket or purse
- access to various tactical features
The main disadvantages of minimalist wallets are:
- not being able to carry a larger number of cards
- not being able to carry a lot of cash
- usually not being able to carry any coins at all
What are the best minimalist wallets?
Some of the best minimalist wallets available today are:
See my detailed guide on the best minimalist wallets for men and the best minimalist wallets for women, where all of the different use cases and occasions are covered in depth to help you find out the exact details of which specific minimalist wallet you should get.