What exactly ARE the different types of wallets? Well, it’s not 1950 anymore and your choices aren’t limited at all. We’ll look at different wallet types across style, material and overall function. One thing you’ll notice is that wallets seem to be getting smaller and much more unique. We hope you enjoy this men’s wallet style guide.
Types of Wallets
- Card Case
- Money Clip
- Chain Wallet
- Checkbook Wallet
- Phone Wallet
- Zipper Wallet
- Suit Jacket Wallet (Tall)
- Leather Wallet
- Metal Wallet
- Carbon Fiber Wallet
- Wooden Wallet
- Velcro Wallet
- Tyvek Wallet
- Vegan Wallet
- Duct Tape Wallet
- Minimalist Wallet
- Tactical Wallet
- Travel Wallet (Passport)
- Hidden Wallet
- Shoe Wallet
- Armband Wallet
- Fanny Pack Wallet
- “Costanza” Wallet (Honorary Mention)
Basic Wallet Styles
The card case is a great choice for guys looking for something suitable for a few cards (usually less than 4-5), but not much more. It can handle a few bills, but you’re going to have to fold them in half twice, which really starts to increase the bulk of the wallet. The card case is also great if you wear slacks a lot because it’s so lightweight, but we’ll get more into that later.
While the money clip is also small and lightweight (like the card case), it’s almost the exact opposite in terms of function. These are great for heavy bill carriers with only one or two cards. Another common take on the money clip is to integrate it with a card case or bifold…the best of both worlds.
The bifold is definitely traditional, but we’ve seen some really cool takes on it lately. Bellroy has some really cool bifold options, such as the Slim Sleeve and Note Sleeve. You can still go the traditional route with a bifold that will handle cash, cards and receipts, but we recommend really slimming it out and thinking about what you need.
Ah, the good ol’ trifold wallet. Everybody had one growing up, or at least your dad did. They’re great for heavy cash, heavy card and pretty much anything else you can think of. That said, therein lies the problem. The trifold is notorious for turning into the Costanza wallet. Guys just keep cramming stuff in there until you can’t find anything and start developing sciatic nerve problems because of the pressure it puts on your back. Just go a different direction! There are PLENTY of wallet options, trust us.
Wallets that include chains give the wearer an edge, as well as keep their wallet secure. They’re actually really practical if you ride a motorcycle. Think about it, who wants to be riding down the road on a bike and wondering if your wallet is still in your pocket. Our favorite chain wallets can be seen here.
It may be 2019, but we still use checks. In fact, there are times when a check is really the only viable option. How many times have you needed a check, but just didn’t have them with you
Wallet Material Types
Leather is obviously the most traditional material when it comes to wallets. Why you might ask? It’s malleable yet durable. It’s relatively lightweight and ages gracefully if you know what quality leather looks like. If you don’t, read this this helpful leather guide.
Metal wallets started becoming popular around 2012/2013. If you would’ve told us this 15 years ago we might have laughed. At first glance, metal doesn’t seem like a great material to construct a wallet mainly because it’s rigid. Well, that’s actually what makes it great. You see, around this same time, folks starting to minimize their wallets and carry them in their front pockets. Metal allowed these makers to create a strong wallet that will carry cards, keep them secure…all while minimizing the footprint. Materials such as aluminum, titanium and steel have all become extremely popular.
Much like the metal that we mentioned above, Carbon Fiber is a surprisingly great choice for a wallet. It’s also super strong, but crazy lightweight. We have a great review featuring our favorite carbon fiber wallets, but a few of the brands to watch out for are Ridge, Elephant & Fidelo.
Say what? Yes, there are makers out there that are currently constructing wallets out of wood. We’ll be the first to admit that it’s not exactly “practical”. That said, they’re really cool. It’s also an option for our vegan friends out there.
Most velcro wallets are known for being lightweight and secure. They’re typically made primarily of various types of canvas or nylon. Although they’re great for kids and teenagers, they’re also really practical if you carry a lot of change.
Tyvek is actually the envelope packaging material that shipping companies use so that people can’t rip into their shipments. Well, the same security that it provides for them, it will provide for your wallet. These types of wallets are desirable because they are a combination of lightweight, ultra slim and virtually tear proof.
Vegans used to not have any options when it came to wallets. Leather was the name of the same 15-20 years ago. Now, things like metal, Tyvek, and wood are all vegan friendly and great alternatives to leather.
Duct Tape Wallets
We almost included these above, they are vegan friendly after all. That said, the duct tape wallet typically has a different type customer. They’re really suited for guys who like something different and have a DIY type personality. We’ve seen some crazy different takes on this wallet. The best part? If you mess up you can roll out some more and start over.
Wallet Functionality by Type
How well does your wallet suit you? Do you carry a lot of cash? Mainly cards? Do you like to keep every receipt? Or just your ID and a card or two? These are all questions you have to ask yourself when selecting the perfect wallet for yourself. Often times, there isn’t one answer…or wallet…that is an ideal fit for every situation.
As men (and women), we have more than one pair of shoes, belt, etc – mostly determined by what we’re doing that day. Why not more than one wallet? More and more of our readers are electing to own multiple wallets. We started asking ourselves why? Well, we’ve come to the conclusion that guys and gals have different needs for their wallet…at different times. So why not get a wallet for each situation?
We’ve narrowed it down to three main areas of consideration when selecting the functionality of your wallet.
- What kind of clothes do you normally wear?
- What items do you need to have in your wallet?
- Daily carry wallet…secondary wallet?
What’s your dress code?
- the business man. If suits and slacks are a staple for you, we suggest getting something slim and lightweight. With wool or cotton pants, too many things in your pocket can really weigh them down. Most of the guys we’ve talked to like this say they prefer a slim card case, money clip or lightweight front pocket wallet. You may have to ease up on the amount of cash you carry, but overall your suit or slacks will look and feel much better without that bulky wallet weighing them down.
- the casual friday. If denim is a main part of your wardrobe diet, then you have some flexibility here. Although we ALWAYS encourage everyone to slim your wallet as much as you can, jeans allow you to carry your wallet front or back pocket – with plenty of support. So, you need to ask yourself what do you really need in your wallet? If the thought of carrying more than 2-3 cards make you cringe, then one of our Card Sleeves by Bellroy is an excellent option for you. If you absolutely have to keep plenty of cash and 4 out of 5 receipts, then you might consider the Hide & Seek wallet by Bellroy. From one end of the spectrum to the other, these wallets are both slim and completely functional.
- the beach bum. If shorts and and flip flops are a daily occurrence, then we’d first like to say congrats. But seriously, you have some things to consider. If you mainly wear shorts without pockets – board shorts or workout shorts – then it might be a good idea to get something smaller and lightweight. Of course these wallets aren’t going to have quite as many features, but it’s “less wallet” for you to lug around.
What do you need in your wallet?
- the minimalist. We feel there are different levels to this category, but we’re mainly talking about the Card Case guy or gal here. You’ve thought about it, and all you really need is your ID, Debit Card…and that’s it. You’ll never have to worry about that wallet weighing your clothes or taking up all the room in your pocket.
- i need some cash. We get it, sometimes you just need to some cash in your pocket. Whether it’s for leaving a tip, getting a coke or just for comfort – you like to have actual bills in your pocket. Money Clips or Slim Front Pocket Wallets are both options for you, without weighing you down. You’ll need to fold your cash (and not carry a bunch of singles), but you can carry bills and still have a slim wallet.
- my wallet is my personal safe. You have several credit cards, health insurance, ID, loyalty cards and business cards. You also have to carry cash and you like to keep receipts. If this is you, you need top get into a full feature, standard bifold wallet. We never recommend a trifold – in our opinion, the trifold is the very essence of the “Costanza Wallet”. It can lead to bulky pockets, back problems and an unorganized mess. There are plenty of bifolds that will meet your needs, but not weigh you down.
- i like to actually use my wallet in a pinch. This is a situation for a nice tactical wallet. There are some really cool options that come with paracord, an integrated multi-tool and even a bottle opener. If you want your wallet to do more than just carry cash then these are definitely for you.
- the card case. At The Wallet Shoppe we recommend that everyone has one. It doesn’t even have to be your primary, but it will come in handy in a ton of situations. Going to the gym, vacation, ballgame, amusement park for the day? It’s nice to have a smaller wallet. It has everything you need for the day/week and nothing you don’t. Consider it.
- the travel wallet. If you’ve ever used a passport before, or traveled through multiple airports, you know how important it is to keep track of everything. Most standard wallets aren’t equipped to handle your passport, tickets, receipts, extra documents, etc.. We suggest consolidating the contents of your current wallet with travel documents in a nice Travel Wallet or Passport Sleeve. Check out our favorites for 2019.
Here are the 7 most commonly used wallets in the world:
01. The Money Clip
The money clip can trace its origins back to ancient Mesopotamia circa 323 BCE. Yes, we were shocked to find this out too. The clips were used by traders to keep all of their papers in place when they traded or sold their product(s). Similar applications have been found in early Japanese history as well.
The “modern” money clip didn’t really see adoption in the US until the early 20th century. Paper money was in wide circulation at this point and the money clip was a great way to keep all of those bills organized. The clips were typically fashioned out of fine metals, such as gold or silver. As such, the money clip turned into a status symbol for the men carrying them. They had enough disposable income to spend money on their money carrier.
Nowadays, the money clip is often overlooked. It’s simple, yet refined. Durable, yet classy. Material wise, money clips are still made from the finer metals, such as gold and silver, but a lot more are made out of things like steel, aluminum or titanium. We’ve even seen some really cool money clips made from carbon fiber. The things that all of the materials above have in common – strength, weight and aesthetics.
The money clip is the best choice if you…
- Carry a lot of cash
- Travel often and need to tip frequently
- Are nostalgic and like the finer things in life
02. The Card Case Wallet
The card case is one of the first takes on a slim or minimalist wallet. We see them as early as the 1980s, although not yet common. The concept is simple. It’s roughly the size of your credit or debit card, and has card pockets sewn in to both sides (usually). It can accommodate cash, but it’s definitely not the money clip. Bill can be folded in half twice and tucked neatly inside the middle pocket.
It’s a great concept for a wallet and paved the way for many of the innovative wallets we see today.
The card case is the best choice if you…
- Rarely carry cash or bills
- Wear slacks to work (lightweight)
- Only use about 3-5 cards
03. The Bifold Wallet
The concept was adopted to make wallets a bit slimmer, thus fitting easier into the back or front pocket. Most wallets at the time were tri-fold wallets, which we’ll discuss further below. By eliminating the extra fold, the wallet could still hold the same amount of cards and cash, but it wouldn’t create the same bulk in your pockets.
These wallets are about as diverse as they come. There are some that can hold 15-20 cards, plus cash. Others, however have a much smaller footprint and are better suited for 8-10 cards, plus bills. Some bifolds are tall, while others have a shorter height profile.
The bifold is the best choice if you…
- Like a traditional wallet, but want a slimmer option
- Carry a good mixture of cash and cards
- Are looking for ton of options to choose from
04. The Combo Wallet (Money Clip)
A popular option that made it’s way into mainstream is the combo wallet. Now, what exactly are we talking about here? This type of wallet is one that combines two of the styles above to meet the needs of the gent who needs a bit more out of his wallet. We typically see the money clip combined with either the card case or the bifold.
When the money clip is combined with the card case, the result is a slim profile wallet that can handle cash if needed. If you carry cash (even occasionally) the card case might be off limits for you. If you add in a nice money clip on one side, you now have the option to carry 5-10 bills comfortably.
The same can be said when carrying a bifold. Although a bifold is much more accommodating to cash, it’s still not as “easy access” as a money clip. The solution? Attached a money clip to the wallet like they did at Fossil.
The combo wallet is the best choice if you…
- Want flexibility
- Don’t always carry cash, but do often enough
- Still desire a slim wallet
05. The Trifold Wallet
A classic wallet to be certain, the trifold wallet has been around since the late 1970s. Credit cards were in full swing at that point and people starting to carry more and more of them. The appeal of the tri-fold is that it allows you to carry cash (full length), but when folded over twice, the wallet has a narrower profile (in theory).
The problem? You’re folding leather twice and no matter what way you look at it, you’re going to increase the bulk. Tri-folds lend them themselves to people stuffing their wallets. Although there’s a wallet for everyone, we usually recommend guys stay away from a trifold option simply because it’s too bulky.
The trifold wallet is the best choice if you…
- Have to carry a lot of cards, cash and receipts
- Don’t mind having a bulky wallet
- Wish that your last name was Costanza
06. The Travel Wallet
This is really a “secondary” wallet. That said, more and more people are carrying them, so we wanted to include them on this list. Travel wallets are just what they sound like…wallets for travel. Typically, this will involve some sort of international travel that requires a passport.
Our standard wallets are designed to incorporate a passport because they’d be too big. Some travelers opt for a passport case and while those are fine, you still end up needing to carry two wallets. This is where the travel wallet comes in to play. It basically allows you to carry your passport alongside you’re credit cards, ID, etc.. It’s a true “multi-function” wallet. We definitely recommend one if you’re doing to be doing any sort of travel that requires a passport. It’s not something that you need every day, but when you do…they’re really nice to have.
The travel wallet is the best choice if you…
- Travel internationally at least once a year
- Are tired of carrying two wallets when you travel
07. The Minimalist Wallet
Around 2012 (the year we started this site) wallets started to change a bit. Companies like Bellroy and Ridge started making wallets that were “different” than their predecessors. In the case of Bellroy, their whole company is founded on the notion that slimming your wallet is not only something that makes sense, but it’s absolutely necessary. They started things off by paving the way for slim wallets with products like the Note Sleeve and Slim Sleeve.
Ridge came along shortly thereafter with their take on a slim, metal card case. It was the first aluminum modular wallet in production and was well received. They continued to innovate and brought along new materials such as carbon fiber and titanium, as well as a ton of new colors.
The point is this, makers have started to rethink the way that we carry. Wallets are now looked at as a fashion statement, or cool gadget/accessory. You’ll definitely see elements of all wallets mentioned above in the minimalist style, but they’ve incorporated them in a way to make them unique and overall “fun” to carry.
The minimalist wallet is the best choice if you…
- Carry a few cards, but not much cash
- Like to try new things
- Enjoy quality products
- Have embraced carrying less
- Have an interest in style
So, there you have it. The seven wallets above are the different types of men’s wallets that we see most frequently used around the world. There’s not a right or wrong choice for anyone, but as we show you above, you need to understand the benefits and limitations of each wallet style. As makers continue to innovate, we’re confident you’ll find the right wallet for your personal carry.
*If you’d like to explore further, please take a look at our guide that features our favorite wallets ranked by style. Hope you enjoy.