We tested more than a dozen of the most popular and interesting minimalist wallets on the market. Here's what we found.
Updated Dec. 1, 2023 6:00 a.m. PT
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission.
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James BricknellSenior Editor
James has been writing about technology for years but has loved it since the early 90s. While his main areas of expertise are maker tools -- 3D printers, vinyl cutters, paper printers, and laser cutters -- he also loves to play board games and tabletop RPGs.
Expertise3D printers, maker tools such as Cricut style vinyl cutters and laser cutters, traditional paper printersCredentials
6 years working professionally in the 3D printing space / 4 years testing consumer electronics for large websites.
Minimalist wallets are lightweight, svelte containers designed to accommodate your most essential everyday carry items: some money, an ID card and a few credit or debit cards. The best minimalist wallets combine a stylish appearance, durable construction and -- most importantly -- a design that forces you to be economical in your choices about what to carry around. With that in mind, we've put together this list to help you find the best minimalist wallet.
What's the best minimalist wallet?
For our money, the Airo Collective Stealth Wallet Razor is, despite that word salad of a name, the best minimalist wallet you can buy. It's minimal in all the right ways: minimal weight, minimal design and minimal intrusion into your pocket. The firm elastic cord and toughness of the material mean you won't lose your money accidentally either, so it's a win from every angle.
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, and there is a variety of fabrics and colors to choose from. Some are hybrids, which combine a wallet and money clip or elastic band. Most offer some 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.)
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.
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.
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 $7, for the Chelmon model, and other models generally cost between $13 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:
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.
Employing "more than 200 people in Tennessee," Groove Life has created a precision-made wallet with a balanced weight that feels great in your pocket. Designed for five cards to fan easily, I found it could fit four credit cards and two insurance cards nicely, with an ID in the front leather sleeve.
The mechanism for releasing the cards is really nice, too. The entire front of the wallet slides up to help fan the cards out with a spring-loaded action that is satisfyingly mechanical. Like all metal wallets, the Grove wallet is RFID-blocking, so you can have some peace of mind on that score. It's rugged too, so dropping it doesn't pop your cards out -- at least it hasn't yet.
The Ridge wallets are fantastic, and while the titanium series can be a little pricey, these NFL-branded ones feel well-priced for what you get. The solid aluminum constructed feels good in your hand and the powder-coated surface adds to that premium feel. If you love your football team and you want a way to show it in a stylish and rugged way, go for an NFL Ridge.
You also get a spare elastic and a money clip in the presentation box, making it the perfect gift for the football fan in your life. If I had one complaint it would be the lack of dynamic artwork, but if all you want is to show your team colors and logo, they work for that.
I always thought that having your wallet and phone together was risky. But honestly, I am far more likely to lose my wallet in a back pocket than I am to lose my phone in my hand. The Bluebonnet Magsafe wallet holds only one or two cards, but it sticks to the back of the iPhone 14 so well you would think it was part of the case. The leather is premium, and the blue band that acts as a money clip is tight enough to use as a phone grip too.
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.
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Other minimalist wallets we've tested
Not all of the minimalist wallets we've tested get to be called the best. Some of them are OK; some of them are really not OK. Here are some of the wallets that did OK at testing but didn't quite make the cut.
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.
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.
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.
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Factors to consider when buying a minimalist wallet
There are many factors to consider when buying the right minimalist wallet. I've tried to boil it down to a few key ones, but remember -- we are all different, so your mileage may vary. The top things to consider are:
How many cards do you really need?
Are you worried about RFID blocking?
Are you taking cash with you?
What material do you want it to be made of?
The most important factor in this list is the first one and will often dictate what your minimalist wallet looks like. Do you only need 2 to 5 cards? then a no-folding wallet, or possibly a mechanical opening wallet could be a good choice. If you need more than that then a bi-fold or even tri-fold wallet may be your only option.
Most minimalist wallets these days come with RFID blocking as standard, so it's more than likely you will have that. Double-check on the listing to make sure if it's important to you, but know most do come with it. That's also true for some kind of money clip or elastic strap to hold a small amount of cash. If you are looking to take a large amount of paper money with you, a minimalist wallet may not be for you.
The size of the wallet will also dictate the materials used. A mechanical wallet will be made of a metal of some kind, while other minimalist wallets will be made of leather or a vegan leather substitute. Deciding on the material and the number of cards you want to carry will likely give you the best indication of the type of wallet you'll want to buy.
How we test minimalist wallets
Testing wallets is, as you might imagine, a fairly subjective process. These wallets come in many sizes, shapes, and materials so it's important to test them on those merits. Trying to jam 10 cards into a wallet designed to hold 3 is pointless, and not a true test.
All wallets are subjected to a vigorous shake test where we try to dislodge the cards from inside, and if they have a money clip/strap on the outside, I try to get that to fall out too. Then it's time for my least favorite test; sitting on the wallet in my back pocket for an entire workday. Mostly, I am making sure the wallet doesn't bend, or otherwise damage the cards inside, but I am also checking how uncomfortable it is to sit on for 8 hours a day.
Any of the wallets that claim to be RFID blockers are subjected to a test using an Android Pixel phone and an RFID card that has my Twitter link on it. If the card can be read through the wallet and my Twitter Bio opens on the phone, then the wallet fails the test. Finally, I spend a week using the wallet as my main card holder in the real world. There are very few tests better than that to give you a clear idea whether it is worth your money or not.
Minimalist wallets FAQ
Do minimalist wallets damage cards?
If you use a minimalist wallet correctly, it will keep your cards safe and sound. If you overstock it, then you run the risk of damaging your credit cards. Remember, the whole point of a minimalist wallet is to only take the few cards you need for the trip you are on. Most can hold five to 10 cards so keep that in mind when you choose your wallet.
What pocket should you hold your wallet?
Despite the traditional notions of holding your wallet in your back pocket, it probably shouldn't be there. Not only does it make it much easier for pickpockets, it makes it harder for you to get to it when you need it. If you've ever tried to get your wallet while at a drive-through you'll know what I mean. Having your wallet in your back pocket can also damage the cards inside. It has the full pressure of your body as well as the other cards and metal parts of the wallet pressing down on them.