These days, you don't really need to have cash on hand. Just about every store you walk into accepts debit and credit cards, and even contactless payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Wallet are gaining traction. But even in our cash-free world, you'll still want something to hold your cards and maybe a note or two while you're out on the town. Which is where the best minimalist wallets come into play. Unlike a traditional wallet, these simple wallets are designed to only carry the essentials, and have a slim design that is thin enough to keep in your pocket without ruining your stylish look -- making them a great pick for weddings or any other event where you're wearing dress pants.
Minimalist wallets are a diverse breed of lightweight, svelte containers designed to accommodate only your most essential everyday carry items: some money, an ID card and a few credit or debit cards. The best minimalist slim wallets combine a stylish appearance, durable construction and -- most importantly -- a design that forces you to be ruthlessly economical in your choices about what to carry around every day. With that in mind, we've put together this list to help you find the best minimalist wallet.
The minimalist wallet category itself has, ironically, become jam-packed, with thousands of designs being sold online and in stores by well-known brands, high-end boutiques and Chinese up-and-comers. Most of these minimal wallet styles cost between $10 and $40. But there are plenty of wallets with a minimalist design that cost $100 or more -- often built from heavy-duty materials, like high-quality leather, or stocked with extra features, like a bottle opener or multitool. So if you're looking for a compact wallet with a slim profile design that does "more," you're not hurting for choices.
Though there are plenty of bifold and trifold thin wallet options, we're mostly focused on one-panel design wallets here. These usually hold between four and 10 credit and debit cards, though some do it more artfully than others. Many come in a variety of fabrics and colors, while some are hybrids, which combine wallet and money clip or elastic band. Most offer some type of RFID blocking technology, which is advertised as a protective measure against electronic pickpocketing, like scammers skimming data stored on your contactless credit cards. (That may be an overblown concern, however.)
We've put them through their paces, with an eye on quality, durability, style, functionality and price. Take a look at our minimalist wallet recommendations below, which we'll update as we test new products.
Best minimalist wallets, compared
||Best overall||Best value||Best warranty||Most extra features||Best rugged pick||Luxury pick|
|Model||Airo Collective Stealth||Hammer Anvil||Buffway||Dango||Ridge Titanium||Harber London|
|Buying info||See at Airo Collective||See at Amazon||See at Amazon||See at Amazon||See at Amazon||See at Harber London|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||3.8 x 3 x 0.25 inches||4.0 x 3.3 x 0.25 inches||4.4 x 3.1 x 0.25 inches||4.38 x 2.5 x 0.38 inches||3.4 x 2.1 x 0.44 inches||2.9 x 4 x 0.4 inches|
|Capacity||8 cards plus cash||6 cards plus cash||8-12 cards||12 cards||12 cards||6 cards plus cash|
After carrying a wide variety of minimalist wallets over the past several years, I have finally found one that I can recommend without reservation. The Airo Collective's Stealth is tasteful, thoughtfully designed and extraordinarily, singularly minimal, weighing a feathery 0.14 ounce. The billfold design features two pocket card slots, each holding up to four credit cards, and a thin elastic band -- Airo calls it a "ballistic bungee loop" -- that securely holds your cash in place.
The company says its material is 15 times stronger than steel, and the website features videos of musclebound dudes trying and failing to rip it apart. Also appealing: It's made in the US, comes with a two-year warranty and offers RFID protection, for whatever that's worth. After several months of use, I can report that it's broken in -- but still holding up well.
Five of the 12 wallets we tested had essentially the same basic design, and there are dozens -- if not hundreds -- of nearly identical models, all made in China, listed on Amazon. Prices start at just $10, for the Chelmon model, and other models generally cost between $15 and $20, though some colors, patterns and fabrics are more expensive than others. They're all about the size of a deck of playing cards, though they measure about 0.25 inch thick. The five we tested all have their brand names embossed on them:
- Hammer Anvil RFID Blocking Minimalist Front Pocket Wallet
- Kinzd Slim Wallet
- Zitahli Slim & Minimalist Front Pocket Bifold Wallet
- Buffway Slim Minimalist Front Pocket RFID Blocking Leather Wallet
- Chelmon Slim Wallet RFID Front Pocket Wallet
Each of these slimmer wallets had the same basic elements: two or three card holder pockets on each side; a transparent window that lets you flash your ID without removing it; an inner space that can be used as a cash pocket or to stow a few more cards; RFID blocking on its card sleeve to block electronic pickpocketing of your credit and debit cards; and, in the case of the slightly pricier Zitahli, a magnetically attached money clip. (That company claims this money clip wallet can safely hold up to 25 bills, but when I put in just 10 folded bills, the magnets failed to connect.) But my top choice overall is the shorter, wider Hammer Anvil; I don't mind that it lacks the ID window, which, for all of its practicality, I find tacky and not befitting of our top wallets list.
I also really like the Kinzd, which has a slightly broader design that separates it from the cookie-cutter field. It has a terrific inner pocket -- which is closed on one side only, allowing you to open it up wide -- that comes together firmly with a satisfying magnetic snap.
The Zitahli Slim & Minimalist Front Pocket Bifold Wallet, the Buffway Slim Minimalist Front Pocket RFID Blocking Leather Wallet and the Chelmon Slim Wallet RFID Front Pocket Wallet are more or less identical, and if you're looking for a cheap, nondescript slim minimalist wallet (with RFID blocking), honestly, any of them will do. But note that the Buffway minimalist leather wallet provides a generous 12-month no-questions-asked replacement policy, making it my top choice for the habitual loser of wallets.
There's something odd about a minimalist RFID wallet that includes a paracord tensioner. And yet, we have the T01, which covers the basics and then some. It's extremely durable, handcrafted with "aerospace-grade" aluminum -- for those of you looking for a metal wallet -- in the US, and can hold 12 cards (at least) plus a wad of bills in the included silicone band. And the T01 comes with not only a built-in bottle opener, but Dango's stainless-steel multitool accessory, which can be stowed in the wallet. (I can't recall even one moment during the past 25 years when I needed any of those tools while on the go.) The multitool pushes the wallet's total weight above 6 ounces, reduces the number of cards it can hold and won't be happily received when boarding an airplane. But still, it's a cool wallet for those who need tools on them at all times.
Dango backs the T01 with a limited lifetime warranty on manufacturing defects and one year for defects in materials and workmanship.
Of all of the rugged minimalist wallets I tested, I found the Ridge to be the most flexible -- ironic for a wallet made of titanium. But the sandwich design of the Ridge wallet securely accommodates one card as easily as it can 12, and the durable but pliable money clip holds one bill as tightly as a bigger wad. The cutout provides quick access to all of your cards, and the tough elastic strap that holds everything together inspires confidence.
This wallet is almost comically overdesigned, and you can use the included screwdriver (!) to disassemble the pieces, remove the money clip and bring the money strap to the exterior. Ridge makes this wallet in China, but backs it with a lifetime guarantee against manufacturing defects, which seems about right for the price. This burnt titanium Ridge wallet is probably my favorite color, though it's a little pricier than some of the other color variants, which start at $95. There are tons of different options to choose from over at the Ridge website if you want something a little subtler, or a lot more boisterous.
Handmade in Spain, this pricey leather card holder exudes sophistication. This cardholder-style leather minimalist wallet is available in a variety of attractive solid and two-tone color combinations, it weighs about half an ounce and holds six cards and a few bills. Tasteful, well-made with leather material and quite minimalist, this one would make an awesome wallet for a graduation or birthday gift.
Flowfold's design is supremely minimal: It's extremely thin and weighs a fraction of an ounce. The one pocket design can fit up to 12 cards -- or fewer, with some money -- and that's about it. Unlike most of the other wallets, however, it requires eight cards or a wad of money to work properly; it won't securely hold just one or two cards and still block RFID signals properly.
But it's exceptionally durable; the one I bought several years ago has held up exceedingly well. (Full disclosure: Flowfold is headquartered in southern Maine, where I live, and I am acquainted with folks who work there.)
Note that the Paperwallet Micro Wallet, profiled below, makes a great alternative to the Flowfold.
Other minimalist wallet options
If James Bond carried a minimalist wallet, it would be Ekster's distinctive but pricey Parliament. The main compartment securely holds one card to five cards, which fan out of the top when you push the nifty eject button. (It must be noted that there are a fair number of Amazon reviews complaining about problems with the button.) Concealed within the interior is an elastic band that holds money or additional cards. And the genuine leather cover flap -- yes, technically, this could be called a bifold -- has two more slots for additional storage. (There's yet another slot on the back, too.) If you pack too much into a pocket, however, you risk perverting the mission of the minimalist wallet. Note that Ekster also sells a solar-powered, voice-activated tracker card that can help you find a misplaced wallet.
Vaultskin's tasteful Notting Hill wallet manages to cram a lot into a small package. The defining feature here is the zipper. For some, it will be a deal-breaker -- for its bulk, or whatever it connotes, style-wise -- while others will find the security of a zippered compartment appealing for containing their credit and debit cards and money. If you're pro-zipper, there's much to like. The exterior features three slots that can accommodate cards or money. A fourth hidden slot can store two or three more cards, which you can eject out the top using the genuine leather pull tab. The inside has two pouches, one of which snaps down, and a strap that can stow several more cards. There's also a small key hook. Though it says "London" on the packaging, this wallet is made in China.
Trayvax's Armored Summit Wallet delivers an appealing combination of ruggedness and extra features at a reasonable price. It can hold up to seven cards and five bills, and like the Dango, it's built from sturdy materials -- steel and melonite, in this case -- in the US. Also like the Dango, it has an integrated bottle opener. Still, Trayvax's buckling strap is a deal killer for me. It's nylon, not elastic, and I found it quite difficult to adjust when I needed to remove a few cards or make more room for additional money.
Though technically a minimalist bifold wallet and not a sleeve, the Micro Wallet warrants inclusion here for its incredibly light weight. Made out of Tyvek -- the synthetic material used to wrap buildings during construction, which is also water-resistant -- this bifold wallet weighs a mere quarter of an ounce. You can park a few cards in each of its side pockets or slots, and the cash compartment will hold as many folded bills as you can cram in. Whether it's one dollar or a stack of 20s, however, this wallet will not stay closed when outside of your pocket.
You can get these wallets on Amazon. But the company sells an array of quirky, distinctive designs on its own website. Paperwallet guarantees the Micro Wallet for 30 days -- a shorter period than most other vendors. But I've been using mine for a couple of weeks and, so far, it's held up surprisingly well. I'm curious to see how it does over the long haul, and will update this roundup in the future.
Thread Wallets' Elastic resembles a fancy Ace bandage or compression sleeve. It's made of a stretchy material, and can easily hold 10 cards and some money. It also has a small key ring. Though it's billed as specifically "for women" -- and it was my 10-year-old daughter's favorite of the bunch -- that seems a bit reductive. This would be an excellent wallet for anyone. The only drawback to this simple, stylish wallet is that the excess material on the interior bunches up into a lump, a minor but considerable design blemish.