What Type Of Wallet Is Best? [For Every Scenario]

A wallet is often the main piece of accessory in a person’s attire. And although it seems minuscule, a bad wallet choice never goes unnoticed. You have to choose one that blends into your look and complements your poise.

Choosing the perfect wallet mainly depends on two things – your budget, and your lifestyle. Defining the affordable price range, the contents in your wallet, your way of life and daily needs, and the preferred materials will help you narrow the choices down.

What types of wallets are there?

types of wallets

In order to find the perfect wallet, you first need to learn about all types of wallets that are available.

Wallets are mainly classed by their design and the material they are made of. There are hundreds of different combinations available today. To make things easier, in this article, we are going to stick to these two characteristics – wallet designs, and materials used.

Wallet designs

These are the most common wallet designs:

  • one-fold wallets
  • bifold wallets
  • trifold wallets
  • hard-case wallets
  • open frame wallets
  • two-plate wallets

One-fold wallets

buffway slim wallet in car

One-fold is your typical leather-made cardholder with a few thin pockets stacked around a piece of fabric. You can either love or hate this type of wallet, there is no in-between.

This will probably be your best choice if you only need to carry a few cards. It’s thin, takes less space than half a mobile phone, and weighs less than a pair of keys.

One-fold wallets are perfect for those who only carry a couple of cards and no cash on them. They should be the go-to choice for people who don’t carry much and want to save as much space in their pockets as possible.

Bifold wallets

Bellroy Hide & Seek Wallet Bi-fold

Bifold wallets are the most popular type of wallet to date. They are one of the first wallet designs that emerged on the market centuries ago and have stayed on the top ever since.

You know this type of wallet. You probably even have one or have had one in the past, and you can be pretty sure it’s the sometimes bland but usually perfectly safe choice.

A bifold wallet is a great choice for people who want to stick to the classics. If you are looking for something new, yet familiar, this is what you should be going for.

Trifold wallets

unfolded Levi's red trifold wallet

Trifold wallets are a bit rarer, but a nice choice if you need a bigger capacity while still keeping your wallet small and compact. I would recommend checking this type out if you are looking for a folding wallet, but want even more space and capacity.

These models are most suitable for people who value capacity over anything else. Trifold wallets may not seem like the most stylish type of wallets out there, as they are much thicker in size than all other models, but they do provide much more space so you can carry everything you want in one single folding item.

Hard-case wallets

Secrid Cardslide design

Hard-case wallets are, as the name suggests, wallets consisting of a hard encasing that holds your cards and cash bills inside a shell-like structure. These wallets are typically made of strong materials such as metal or reinforced plastic and are great for people who are looking for some extra safety.

I would highly recommend hard-case wallets to people who prioritize security over every other aspect of a wallet. These models are designed to keep your cards undamaged no matter what happens. So, if you see yourself as an adventurist who often risks dropping or damaging your wallet, a hard-case model would let you sleep a bit better knowing that your possessions are as safe as they can be.

Open frame wallets

Trayvax Armored Summit empty

Wallets with an open frame have become quite popular lately. Almost all minimalist and tactical wallets use this design, which allows them to support tons of interesting features to make the wallet much more functional than a simple cash carrier. You can find all kinds of tactical features in these types of wallets: bottle openers, rope cutters, attachment rings, carabiners, tethers, and even multi-tools with dozens of features placed on one metal frame.

Wallets with an open frame are a very specific fit. They are great for tactical geeks and adventurists, as they often come with various interesting features, but can only be used by those who are comfortable flashing their wallet’s contents.

Two-plate wallets

Ridge wallet plates

Two-plate wallets are the most recent trend in the industry. They are small cardholders, typically the width of a credit card, and consist of just two hard plates held together by an elastic strap.

At first glance, they look very similar to the open-frame wallets, but with a few tweaks in the design. An expandable pocket forms between the plates where you can store all of your cards. These wallets are popular thanks to their simplicity, their very small size which makes them fit in any pocket, and often the ability to customize them any way you like.

As you can imagine, these models will only act as cardholders, and rarely hold any bills on them. They are great for people with busy lifestyles who pick and use multiple cards a day and would love to have quick access to their wallet’s contents.

Wallet materials

Today, you can find a wallet made of just about any material that pops into your head.

Most wallets today are mainly made of leather, metal, and polymer. Let’s dive a bit deeper into these three.

Leather

There are many types of leather found in today’s wallets. There’s the standard processed top-grain leather and the non-processed superior full-grain leather. Genuine leather is also featured quite often, albeit mostly in the low-tier budget wallets. Premium leathers include exotic skins from various animals, often lizard skin or cowhide.

Each of these varies from one another in its quality and its price. Usually, the more expensive the leather, the better its quality. This is quite easily noticeable as most budget-priced leather wallets will only last for a couple of years before they start to deteriorate. Their premium counterparts, on the other hand, will surely serve you for decades, if not your whole life.

I recommend full grain or cowhide skin leather as the best middle-priced options with great quality, but the rule stands – the more your spend, the better the product.

As the most preferred type of wallet material, leather will suit anybody great. You should always look to match the type and color of the leather with the rest of your outfits and look, and wear your wallet not only as an essential item but as a fashion accessory as well. This is the most stylish type of material anyway, so you should try and use it to its max potential.

Metal

Metal wallets got popular in the early 2010s and have continued to rise in popularity ever since. Although they still have a lot of catching up to do before becoming a real competitor to leather wallets, their benefits are clear. A metal wallet is much safer, more durable, and can even be customized, usually much easier than a leather one.

When it comes to these types of wallets, most brands stick to a few metals: steel, aluminum, and titanium. Aluminum seems like the most popular material as it’s relatively cheap, light, and can be modeled more efficiently than steel. Titanium is typically reserved for the most premium luxury wallets.

The biggest benefit of metal wallets is their security. The hard walls of these wallets will keep your contents intact no matter what happens, while also providing some of the strongest RFID blocking systems in the world.

Polymers

Polymers are a broad category consisting of hundreds of different materials. However, only a few are used in the wallet industry. You will most usually find wallets made of plastic, carbon fiber, silicone, and rubber.

Plastic and silicone are the cheaper options, generally coming with lower durability and shorter lifespan, while wallets made of carbon fiber are on the higher price end and with much better designs. Rubber is mostly used for features and additions, such as rubber bands around the wallet, although you might find an occasional minimalist wallet made entirely out of rubber too.

Depending on what type of polymer you prefer, they can either be a cheap gateway to the hard-case models or an expensive accessory to complement your highly professional attire.

The best type of wallet for your style

Once you define your style and needs, it’s only a matter of matching it with a fitting wallet. If you scroll through some of the wallets present on the popular web stores, you see there are a lot of different models out there, and only a few match your desires.

Below I’ve outlined some of the best choices in all price ranges, categorized by personal styles.

The best wallets for casual outfits

Casual outfits can be combined with any kind of accessories. If you don’t strive for a strict, professional look, the freedom of choice is probably something that will work to your benefit.

In the budget category, I suggest going for a classic bifold or one-fold leather wallet with enough pockets for all your cards and cash, plus a little extra space.

However, I would avoid the cheapest options made of faux or top-grain leather, even though they might seem the most appealing. Elegant dark and carbon designs are also a no-go here, as they won’t fit the casual shirt, jeans, or those slim summer t-shirts you plan on wearing.

As for the premium options, I suggest looking at modern minimalist or tactical wallets that use a mix of leather and steel/aluminum in their designs. These wallets usually come with great and stylish aesthetics but are often used with everyday clothes rather than formal ones. Wallets with cool quick-access features, such as a push button or a spinning wheel, are just one of the ideas you should check out.

The best wallets for formal outfits

person in a suit holding an airo collective stealth leather wallet

If you want a wallet that can match the class of elegant office attire, your options are a bit more limited.

First, you would probably have to spend more than $100 to get a great classy wallet. Then, there are only two types of wallets that can really suit formal clothing: slim, elegant, leather folding wallets, or compact metal wallets with a simple design and without too many features cluttering their looks.

There are some decent options in the lower-budget areas as well, but the disparity in the quality of your wallet and the rest of your outfit will be evident.

The best wallets for sporty people and adventurists

A perfect wallet suitable for sporty outdoor people should have three main characteristics: a secure design, an excellent material that can endure the pressures of this lifestyle, and a small size with effective use of features so it can fit into tight sporty outfits.

Enclosed wallets should be the first on this list, followed by slim semi-open case wallets. These types will make sure that your cards don’t fall out and stay intact no matter how hard you shake the wallet or drop it out of your pockets.

You can also go for a wallet with an attachment point, like a ring or a tether. With it, you can attach the wallet to a backpack, or whatever you tend to bring along on your adventures, making your pockets more relaxed during a run or a hike.

The best wallets for minimalists

It’s not too far-fetched to say that almost all wallets will be “minimalistic” in the next decade. People rarely use cash bills anymore, and almost always shop with their credit cards or order things online. In fact, more than half of the payments done during the past two years were digital, a trend that is projected to spike upwards.

One thing we can definitely conclude from this is that banknotes will very soon become a thing of the past. All you’ll need to carry in your wallet (even right now) would be one or two credit cards, an ID, and a few entrance or membership cards if you use any. A minimalist wallet would be any slim wallet that is able to fit exactly that – 5 or 6 cards, and a few bills or none at all.

So, if you consider yourself a minimalist or strive to become one, there is no better time than now to switch to these types of wallets. I suggest starting off with a simple bifold model with two or three pockets on each folding side, and then working your way from there until you find out what works for you best.

The best wallets for travelers

A high-quality wallet is a traveler’s second best friend, right after a durable backpack. A great travel wallet should:

  • have space for your travel documents (bonus points if it has a separate pocket for your passport)
  • have big wide pockets for cash bills
  • be made of premium long-lasting materials

For all the avid travelers out there who are looking for a new wallet, I recommend following these points which, in combination with your favorite material and style, should lead you to the best model for you.

The best wallets for men

While the majority of wallets today can be considered unisex to some extent, there still are some types that are exclusively made for either men or women.

On the male side, I would recommend dark brown leather wallets and tactical metal minimalist wallets with built-in multi-tools as the frontrunners. Rugged-style wallets are the next favorite type amongst men, followed by slim cardholders which are the perfect suit-pocket wallets.

The best wallets for women

Wide pouches with zippers are the uncontested best-selling choice when it comes to wallets for women. They are well organized, have a huge capacity, and are some of the safest types of wallets out there.

Two-plate designs with switchable plates are my other big recommendation here. This is mainly due to the customizable nature of these wallets, which allows you to get multiple different designs and switch them based on the outfit you’re rocking today.

Wallet trends you should know about

Prior to purchasing any kind of item, it may be important to be aware of the recent market trends so that you can make a better choice.

The wallet market has been quite fluctuating in recent years, thanks to the hundreds of brands releasing new innovative models each month. In this endless sea of options, it’s hard to know what are some of the best types of wallets available at the moment, what is a reasonable price for one, and what are some of the bad decisions you can make, especially when shopping online.

What are some of the best-selling types of wallets?

Although minimalist wallets have seen a huge rise in the past decade, classic bifold leather wallets are still the top sellers. They are closely followed by slim one-fold wallets, usually those with an inverted design.

Two-plate models are one of the best up-and-coming types of wallets. You can find an instance of this design by almost any prominent wallet brand. As the world is slowly getting rid of cash notes, I expect these simple cardholders to become one of the top-selling types of wallets sometime in the next few years.

As for features, quick-access buttons and similar mechanisms for easier card access are huge right now and are arguably one of the most useful functions you can see on a wallet.

What is a good price for a wallet?

It’s impossible to answer this question in a straightforward manner. Wallets’ prices vary from $10, up to $300, and there are around a thousand different products in each price range. And as it usually goes, the deeper your pocket, the better a product you’ll get.

However, I would say paying between $40 and $100 is the most reasonable price for a great wallet. You should only justify spending more than $100 if your budget can allow that, and if you’re getting an exquisite premium wallet in return.

Things to avoid when shopping for a new wallet

damaged wallet

One of the biggest mistakes people make when looking for a new wallet is buying a low-quality cheap leather wallet. There are a lot of slim wallets you can find for less than $20 online, and even though they may seem like a good deal at first, they will end up costing you more in the long run.

In fact, a branded wallet of $60 will last a decade, if not more, while a cheap $20 wallet will start falling apart after only a couple of years. So you are not only paying the same price over the course of 10 years, but you will also be using a below-average wallet in the meantime.

On the other hand, paying a huge amount of money for a wallet is also rarely justified, if ever. Yes, there are many wallets of great quality, made of exclusive materials you don’t see in other models that may justify the $150 or $200 price tag. But unless you are determined on getting something special, I suggest spending your money elsewhere.

You should also try to avoid cheap knock-offs whenever possible. The big online web stores are filled with subpar imitations of popular wallets which are guaranteed to disappoint in every way possible. I suggest reading the reviews on this website as well as customer reviews on the store to know which wallets you should avoid.

How to choose the right type of wallet?

Now that you are aware of all types of wallets that exist out there, it’s time to find the one that fits you the best. So how do you go about that?

First of all, you’ll need to set up a proper price range that you can afford. You must also make a complete list of all the specific things you are going to need from your wallet. These needs include:

  • How much capacity would you need?
  • How big do you want your wallet to be?
  • What designs and colors do you prefer?
  • What is your style of clothing and what type of wallet will suit it best?
  • What materials should the wallet be made of?

Answering these questions plays a crucial part in choosing the perfect wallet. It would help you better define your lifestyle and your needs, and thus narrow the choices between a couple of strong contenders.


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Matt standing next to his Xiaomi M365 Pro electric scooter and holding an electric scooter helmet
I love all things tech, so I decided to make a blog about technology, electronics, gadgets, accessories, and all the various items we use every day that make our lives easier. I like doing a lot of research on various models and brands, looking for great value and performance, both through data and experience.