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Men's Wallet Buying Guide: What Can You Get for Your Money?

The options when buying a wallet are overwhelming. But many are very similar, which is good news: Knowing just a few basics can help you get the right wallet at the right price.
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There are men's shoe snobs, and there are men's watch snobs. But as far as I can tell, there are no men's wallet snobs. This is good news for dealhunters, because there's not a complex landscape of features and quality to navigate.

Yes, there's an overwhelming number of options in terms of brand and models, but it turns out many of them are almost identical. You can save your time and money, and focus instead on finding the men's wallet that's right for your needs and budget.


Pulp Fiction

Leather Billfold: What We Talk About When We Talk About Men's Wallets

When you picture a men's wallet, you're probably thinking about a small billfold: a leather pouch that folds over once, fits in your back pocket, and is thick enough to hold a few bills and cards.

Leather billfolds are available in a range of prices, mostly reflecting the brand name, quality of leather, and quality of construction. But they will all hold your cash and credit about the same.

Higher quality leather will age better, developing a patina over time, while cheaper leather will crack and peel after a few years or less. More expensive wallets will certainly note that they're constructed with full-grain leather, which is the highest quality. If the product info just says "leather," you can bet it's lower quality corrected leather.

If you're handling the wallets before buying, remember that full-grain leather feels, well, leathery. It has more texture and shows visible imperfections and richer color. Corrected leather feels plasticky and overly smooth, and has flatter color.

Price could also relate to the quality of the stitching: Cheaper wallets will come apart at the seams sooner. And for those who aren't into leather, billfolds are available in canvas, nylon, polyester, and even metal.

What Kind of Brands and Quality Can You Get at Different Price Points?

Under $20
Amazon alone features numerous options in this price range from tons of recognizable clothing and accessories brands like Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger, Fossil, Steve Madden, Kenneth Cole, Timberland, Dockers, Joseph Abboud, Original Penguin, and Columbia. Quality and durability will not be great in this range, but that might not matter much for an item that is out of sight and being sat on most of the time.

$20 to $50
This is the price range where you'll find some brands that are specifically focused on wallets. If bulk is you main concern, consider Allett, which calls itself "the original thin wallet." At 3.75" x 5.25", Allett's signature billfold, the Classic Leather Original Wallet ($34.95) has enough space for two credit cards side-by-side, but might be a little bulky. Their Classic Leather Sport Wallet ($24.95) has more typical dimensions (3.25" x 3.75"), and all of the wallets are just a quarter inch thick.

If, on the other hand, your main concern is quality and value, it's hard to beat the Small Billfold Wallet from Saddleback Leathers (just squeaking into this price tier at $49). Saddleback offers a whopping 100-year warranty "against defects in materials and workmanship" on all of their leather goods, making this full-grain leather piece a true bargain.

$50 to $100
In this range, Bellroy is a popular option with high quality leather and super slim profiles. What's more, their products come in a number of bright natural dyes like blue, burnt orange, and grey, in addition to more traditional black and brown. Both their High Line and Low Down billfolds ($79.95 each) can fit flat bills and two to 10 cards. Their Slim Sleeve (also $79.95) is the smallest of these options, but requires folding up your bills. While they don't have Saddleback's 100-year warranty, they will cover you for 3 years.

More than $100
If you really want, you can blow up to $500 on an alligator or calfskin leather wallet from a fancy fashion house like Burberry or Salvatore Ferragamo. In addition to having a sleek, durable billfold, you'll have a lot less cash to bulk it up!


Money clip

Try a Money Clip and a Card Holder

If you really want to go minimal, consider a money clip. It's exactly what it sounds like: essentially a large metal clip (or sometimes a strip of leather with magnets at the end) that holds together a stack of cash, and maybe an ID and some cards.

For such small accessories, money clips really run the spectrum in price. J.Crew quickly sold out of their brass money clips from New York craft faves Owen & Fred, but a similar model is still available directly from Owen & Fred for $19. Or, you could buy a Tiffany 1837 clip in sterling silver for $185. (For what it's worth, it's well-reviewed.)

A card holder could be used in conjunction with a money clip; or for the true minimalist, it could be it's own very small wallet, holding just a few cards and folded up bills. Most companies that make wallets also make a card holder.


Banded wallets

Banded Wallets

For the ultra-minimalist, there's a growing category that is basically just an elastic band holding your things to a metal plate, or between two plates. Popular brands include HuMn, Omega Titanium, Ridge, and Elephant.

Or, remove the plate entirely. According to Lifehacker, a plain rubber band is the best wallet.

What's your top choice for a wallet? Let us know in the comments below.


Editor Emeritus

Ben has been researching the best deals and offering expert financial insight at DealNews since 2014. He's been featured on Good Morning America and Fox and Friends, and has been quoted by Reuters, Time, Money Magazine, and more. Follow him on Twitter @BenDealNews.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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2 comments
rldeskins2
Come on MAN! No mention of a tri-fold wallet? I have used the same one for 25 years.
Fatheadcarl
How you gonna show Jules Winfield's wallet and not link to it?

http://goo.gl/Ku8fo8