Minimalist Wallets: Why, And What They Are!

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I am not a stranger to minimalist wallets, as my collection of units I have purchased, been gifted or reviewed grows regularly. This is my favorite wallet category and has completely changed how I think about daily carry gear.

A minimalist wallet is a wallet that aims to cut down on the bulk and amount of stuff that you keep on your person at any point in time. Thick leather, pockets for everything, and spots for photos are replaced with specific compartments for cards and cash. That’s it. These wallets aim to allow you only to carry those two items and keep even those to a minimum.

While this all sounds like a downside, the result is hugely freeing. You find yourself having quick access to your cards (less frustration) and the ability to keep your wallet in your front pocket (your back will thank you).

Quick Note: Brands like to gift me wallets from time to time to check out, and many of the wallets in this article were gifted by the brand. Specifically, the Ekster, Dango, Axwell and Bellroy were sent out to me, free of charge, but all opinions are my own (of course).

Why would you want a minimalist wallet?

1. Easy Access to Cards & Cash

Standard wallets struggle with one of the most important aspects of a wallet design; easy access to your cards and cash, about 99% of what most people use their wallets for. Minimalist wallets (of which these are the best ones here) do their best to put your cards and cash front and center, or at least extremely accessible. 

This can either be done by placing pockets facing outwards, in the case of something like the Herschel Charlie wallet (Paid Link), or it can even be a spring-loaded wallet that fans the cards out in front of you, like an Ekster Carbon Fiber wallet, which I was gifted by the brand a while back (Paid Link). Either way, these wallets do a much better job than the old-fashioned style wallets of the past.

2. Less bulk in your pockets

While easy access to cards is an essential aspect of a minimalist wallet, the minimalist name itself comes from the ability to cut down on unnecessary junk and keep things as slim as possible. A great example is the Ridge Wallet, which you can buy here (Paid Link), which is essentially the size of a debit card and can hold up to 12 cards at a time. This leaves little additional bulk, especially in comparison to a standard bifold or trifold wallet.

3. Additional Features other wallets don’t have

Regular wallets may do a great job storing tons of stuff, but they only offer a little functionality for things you do regularly. The best example of this comes down to keeping track of your wallet! Many wallets, such as this one (Paid Link), offer places to efficiently support an air tag (if you are an iPhone user), or you can always get something like this Tracker Card (Paid Link), which will work with any minimalist wallet.

4. Quickly move your wallet to your front pocket.

I hated having my wallet in my back pocket; not only did it wear my jeans out, but it also hurt my back. Once I switched to my original front-pocket wallet years ago, I never wanted to go back. Since then, wallets have improved, and now you can barely tell your wallet is even in the front pocket. Your back will thank you, and the ease of access to your wallet will be a fantastic upside to keeping your wallet upfront.

5. No longer carrying things you don’t need

How many times have you found yourself emptying your wallet of receipts from years ago, old loyalty cards from defunct stores, and random pocket lint from pants of the past? Minimalist wallets create an environment for you never to lug those things around anymore, as everything is right up front, easily noticeable, and nearly impossible to hold junk with.

Different types of minimalist wallets

1. Plate & Strap Design

The two plates and an elastic strap design are one of the most common styles of minimalist wallets. Ridge Wallet is the most popular and well-known brand with this design (see my 12-month review here).

Essentially this type of minimalist wallet sandwiches your cards between two plates of metal (generally aluminum) held together by an elastic band. 

You can then choose from a money clip or a cash strap to hold cash on the exterior. These types of wallets are about as simple and minimalist as it gets. However, the downside is that it can be a pain to get the cards sandwiched in the middle.

2. Card Ejector Wallets

I am never sure what to call these wallets; however, there are plenty of minimalist wallets where the cards are ejected out of the wallet via a button.

The most common and my favorite version of this wallet is the Ekster Cardholder (find my full review here); others can eject the cards from the side (rather than the top) and more.

These are my favorite style of minimalist wallets, as they do a great job of making the cards accessible, yet the wallet itself is minimal.

3. Minimalist leather wallets

These minimalist leather wallets try to bring the best of both worlds together. You can have the old-school leather design but keep cards easily accessible and the ability to store too much down. These wallets use thinner leather to minimize bulk. Generally, they will be a bi-fold or a front pocket wallet where the cards are stored on the exterior, with no folding capabilities.

4. Front-Pocket Wallets

Front-pocket wallets are a catch-all category for wallets that don’t fit the above. These are wallets like this Herschel Charlie wallet (Paid Link) I have owned for years. These cut down on the bulk of a standard wallet by having the cards on the exterior, with a single pocket on the top middle for cash and other items. These can bulk up quicker than the Ekster or Ridge but are still a fantastic choice.

Frequently Asked Questions


I hope this article helped you better understand what a minimalist wallet is and what it can do! While I prefer minimalist wallets for their easy access to the contents and for keeping the bulk down in my pockets, they also have some significant downsides.

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