Wallets are almost as old as, well, money itself! The first known form of currency, the Mesopotamian Shekel, emerged about 5,000 years ago. Once there was money circulating, it wasn’t long after until people realized they needed something to hold them in — and the nascent iteration of the modern wallet was born.
Once born it needed a name: the ancient greek work Kibisis, the sack carried by the mythological god Hermes, has been translated to described our modern types of wallets.
Fast forward a few millennia, and wallets have evolved to fit the modern money they carry; from the classic bi-fold wallet to the hands-free belt wallet, to the tech-savvy RFID wallet, and digital wallets that live on most of our smartphones.
There's a different type of wallet to fit every lifestyle, event, and budget. While there's no need to be carrying two wallets at once, it's worth owning more than one to fit different occasions. If you're searching for a breakdown of the best wallets to fit your evolving style and needs, you've come to the right list:
Bi-fold wallets have, you guessed it, two sections that can be folded in half. Slimmer than a tri-fold, it’s the classic solution that fits seamlessly into your pants, purse, or pocket. Typically, bi-fold wallets are rectangular and feature one long open pocket for money, and several slots, either vertical or horizontal, for credit cards, ID, and receipts. Yet if you have a lot to carry, a bi-fold might not be enough. In that case, we’d suggest:
50% bigger than a bi-fold wallet is a tri-fold, which is divided into three sections. It has two flaps that fold to the center, and one long open pocket for money and several slots, typically vertical, for cards, ID, and receipts. While it has more capacity than a bi-fold wallet, it’s bulkier and less likely to fit into slimmer pants and pockets. However, it can’t guarantee protection against RFID-scanning tools and theft. But there’s a wallet for that:
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to identify and track tags attached to objects. The special layer blocks those fields from reaching your cards with embedded chips.RFID blocking wallets can be embedded into bi-fold and tri-fold wallets, and the hidden protector doesn’t affect the style. While they protect against high-tech attacks, they won’t ensure a fast-handed thief won’t snatch a wallet out of your pocket. If you’re worried about theft, there’s a way to buckle down and prevent this:
A belt wallet is worn around the waist, either above or below clothes. It’s a staple for tourists and festival-goers who want to keep their hands free and stay immersed in their environments. Because the wallet is buckled to the owner, it’s harder to steal than a loose wallet or drops somewhere. But for an added layer of security, look no further:
Money Clip Wallet
While belt wallets are worn horizontally, money belts are worn diagonally across the chest, like a seatbelt, for an even safer, hands-free experience. While they might get a bad rap for being associated with dorky tourists with selfie sticks, they’re a convenient way to keep your valuables close to your chest – literally. However, with the added strap, it can look a little bulky. If you’re looking for something simpler, go minimalist:
This wallet is more about style than functional design. Wallets can be bright, busy, detailed, and filled with personality (and ideally, cash). It’s no secret that at The Ridge, we love minimalist backpacks and wallets, making this style our favorite. While RFID wallets convey tech-savviness, belt wallets give off fun tourist vibes, and money clips give off (somewhat paranoid) tourist vibes, aminimalist wallet looks effortlessly sleek and simplified. To take your minimalism to the next level, there’s a Card Case wallet:
Card Case Wallet
If a tri-fold has three sections, and a bi-fold two, there has to be a single-state-of-mind card out there for those unwilling to fold and conform, right? Meet theCard Case Wallet, the sleek, slim, and streamlined cardholder forces you to be minimalist, and forgo the urge to hoard paper receipts, punch-cards, and endless wads of cash. If you’re worried about the contents of your card case falling out, there’s a zipper with your name on it:
Zippered wallets resemble bi-fold but with a new modern twist (erm, zip). While we now know that currency, and early wallets, were invented over 5,000 years ago, the modest, ever-handy zipper was only introduced in the mid-19th century — a relatively modern invention. Ever since zippers have found their way into our wardrobes; jeans, jackets, tops, and bags — if you can wear it, you can zip it. Wallets are no exception, and zippered wallets ensure, more than any other, that your valuables stay in place. If you’re on the go, a zippered wallet may be your best friend. A travel wallet is a close second.
A travel wallet holds everything you’ll need to travel, like cards, currency, passports, and boarding documents. It has secure fastening and is often lined with RFID blocking to prevent electronic skimming of details from the chips on cards and passports. Traveling isexpensive, and certainly not a time to skimp on protecting your valuables, which is why travel wallets are more typically made of durable material, like leather. Travel wallets should fit visas, boarding passes, booking confirmation, and travel insurance, in addition to your credit cards, currency, license, and emergency contact details. For a slimmer ride, a taxi wallet is an alternative for when you need just the basics.
A newer wallet on the block, taxi wallets have a streamlined, efficient construction that lets you keep business cards and receipts in an external pocket, and bills and cards secured on the inside. The snap pouch is the ideal place for loose change, a spare key, or a good luck guitar pick (we all have one). The three-panel design is more modern than a tri-fold and offers the best balance of protection and accessibility. They’re too small for large travel documents like passports, but of course, there’s a wallet for everything:
Smaller than a travel wallet, this is the perfect way to streamline your travel experience with a stylish passport and document holder. It offers enhanced layers of organization, protection, security, and style. Even better, a wallet-sized key finder can help ensure your passport never goes missing. Then again, you can always keep it in tow, or rather, shoe:
These small pouches attach to your shoe with plastic clips, velcro, or laces right into your shoes. This helps you carry items including keys, ID, cash, and change on the go when you don’t want to carry a traditional wallet. A shoe wallet sits atop the laces and is a favorite option for runners, tourists, and athletes.
Popular Wallet Types FAQ
Q: What are the best types of digital wallets?
A: The best digital wallets are designed to fit different assets: passwords, boarding passes, cryptocurrency-specific wallets, and face-ID-enabled credit cards. Depending on what you want to put into your digital wallet, there is an app designed especially for it. In a digital-physical hybrid, there’s the ever-popularphone charging wallet.
Q: What are the most popular materials that wallets are made of?
A: There’s a wallet for every budget. On the high end are different grades of leathers that offer durability and style. There’s also canvas, velvet, plastic, denim, and metal wallets. In recent years, brands have gotten more creative and eco-friendly with newtypes of wallets, like elastic, duct tape, recycled billboards, old tires, and clothing fabric.
Q: What type of wallet is best for you?
A: There are so many differenttypes of wallets available, each driven by consumer demand. There’s a wallet for every need and need for every wallet. While a minimalist bi-fold is a classic and a great starter wallet, there’s no reason why you can’t have a collection of wallets to fit your different needs, adventures, and ever-changing style.
Q: What do I need to bring with me every day besides a wallet?
A: We’ve got you covered. Check out ourEveryday Carry Guide for a complete list of what you’ll need when out and about.
Evan Grimm is a practical writer, blogger, editor, and knowledgeable up-and-coming authority in the outdoor realm. His best-known content is published on Bowhunting.com, The Alaska Frontier, and Exodus Outdoor Gear. He and his family reside in central Alaska, where daily common sense and practicality are necessary. His commercial pilot and aircraft technician certifications make him focus on what is relevant and solidly provable. You will find him writing or proving more content. https://www.evangrimmwriter.com