Minimalist Wallets Review

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Last Updated: Apr 18, 2019

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I prefer to travel light, even if that means a trip to the local grocery store. When I leave the house, I usually have with me my car keys, iPhone, and a wallet. In this article, I will review minimalist wallets from Burkley and ÖGON, and compare how they stack up against the Smooth Wallet+ from Joli Originals that I have been using for the past few years.

Shop mentioned products

  • Smooth Wallet+ by Joli Originals (online store)
  • Slim Credit Card Caddy by Burkley (Amazon*)
  • 3C: Carbon Card Clip by Ögon Designs (online store)
  • Ultimate Snap-on Stand Case by Burkley (Amazon*)

Cash vs. Plastic

When I grew up in Austria, cash was the primary form of payment. Stores in Austria didn’t widely accept credit cards, but you could pay with an ATM card here and there. Today, credit card acceptance in Austria is still nowhere near to what it is in the United States. As a result, most people still carry cash, and, therefore, have wallets that can accommodate bills and coins.

Review of minimalist wallets from Burkley, Joli, and ÖGON
The 3C vs. My old wallet

When I moved to the U.S., I brought a good-quality leather wallet with me, and I used it for over half a decade. Unfortunately, having a thick wallet in your back pocket has many disadvantages when you sit on it: It is uncomfortable, it may damage your credit cards, and it negatively impacts your posture, thus potentially causing health issues in the long run.

In the past few years, I slowly moved away from using cash, towards responsibly using credit cards. That move made it easier for me to track my spending, as I could simply download the credit card transactions each week, instead of having to keep a written log. As a result, I didn’t need a wallet anymore that could hold coins, and bank notes and I started looking into minimalist wallets.

Smooth Wallet+ by Joli Originals

When I got the iPhone 6, I also bought a sleeve to protect it. While shopping for a sleeve, I discovered Joli Originals, an independent design studio from Holland that makes high-quality leather accessories for Apple products. I ended up ordering leather sleeves for my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook and discovered that they make a minimalist wallet.

My brother and his wife noticed my interest in Joli’s Smooth Wallet+ and gave it to me for my birthday a few years ago.

The Smooth Wallet+ is handmade from smooth premium Italian leather. This is a luxury full grain waxed leather which shows marks as you use it. The uneven texture of the natural hide makes every wallet unique. It feels alive and it ages beautifully.

Smooth Wallet+ highlights

  • Made from premium Italian full grain waxed leather.
  • Holds up to six cards or some folded bills.
  • Has a smart divider for easy-accessible paper money.
  • The inside is made from fine Dutch wool felt.
  • Allows RFID communication, which is a convenience but it could also be a privacy concern.
  • Handmade in Amsterdam.
  • Weighs only 5 ounces.

I have truly enjoyed using the Smooth Wallet+ because Joli applies excellent craftsmanship and uses only top-quality leather for their products. The wallet is slim and easily fits in my pocket without feeling bulky. The smart divider, as Joli calls it, makes room for some emergency cash while the main compartment holds up to six plastic cards.

One disadvantage of Joli’s minimalist wallet is related to card access. There is a cut-out on the bottom of the wallet that allows you to push out the cards. Unfortunately, that only provides easy access to the top and bottom card. Any cards that are between the top and bottom card are not easy to pull out. As a result, I often had to take out all the cards to grab the one I needed. Additionally, Joli’s leather wallet is RFID compatible and thus does not block RFID signals.

What is Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID)?

RFID is a technology to store and wirelessly transmit information between so-called RFID tags and compatible scanners. Automotive manufacturers use the technology to track car parts during the manufacturing process. Payment card issuers use it to enable contactless payment methods.

Review of minimalist wallets from Burkley, Joli, and ÖGON
RFID for contactless payments

Next time you pay with your credit card by just tapping it on the payment terminal, instead of swiping it or using the chip, you will experience RFID or some other form of Near Field Communication (NFC) at work.

Privacy concerns

RFID is a convenient payment feature because it means that you may not even have to take your credit card out of your wallet when paying for something at the store. But there are privacy and data protection concerns associated with that technology. For example, anyone with a RFID reader could potentially walk by you on the street and wirelessly transfer your credit card information.

There are standards for data encryption and over-the-air authentication between RFID tags and readers, and I can only assume most card issuers have implemented them, or are at least working on it. But to be honest, I never confirmed that because none of my cards support contactless payment.

There are standards for data encryption and over-the-air authentication between RFID tags and readers, and I can only assume most card issuers have implemented them, or are at least working on it. But to be honest, I never confirmed that because none of my cards support contactless payment.

However, my permanent resident card (green card) does have a RFID tag that contains my personal information. That is why the U.S. Government ships all resident cards in RFID-blocking sleeves and recommends keeping them in there. That’s crucial because as a permanent resident you are supposed to have that card on you at all times.

Of course, when you travel a lot internationally, it’s a pain in the butt to get that card in and out of its sleeve. Plus, the sleeve makes the card thicker, which reduces the number of cards that fit in my wallet. So I prefer using wallets that block RFID instead of supporting it.

Slim Credit Card Caddy by Burkley

To be perfectly honest, Kathy, my wife took ownership of the Burkley wallet as soon as she saw me taking it out of the box when the shipment arrived. As a result, I got very little one-on-one time with the Slim Credit Card Caddy. But Kathy loves the Burkley wallet and has turned it into her new and permanent wallet.

Burkley’s interpretation of a minimalist wallet features a shell of handmade, genuine cow leather and a slot for five credit cards. Additionally, it offers a visible ID pocket and some room for a folded bill. Besides protection from RFID transmissions, Burkley added a unique card access mechanism.

A lever on the bottom of the wallet makes it easy to take out individual credit cards, without opening the wallet. In comparison to the Joli wallet, the Burkley wallet makes the cards fan out, allowing easy access to any of the inserted cards when you eject them from the case.

Solution for bulky, uncomfortable wallets from leather accessory expert Burkley Case. Affordable Luxury at its best with unique design. Burkley’s new Credit Card Caddy is the sleek way to simplify your life. So no more to bulky, uncomfortable wallets; made from high quality genuine leather, this rustic but minimalist wallet boasts a beautifully handcrafted construction with 5 credit card and 1 ID slot for easy access.

Slim Credit Card Caddy highlights

  • Handmade genuine leather card case made from full grain cow leather.
  • Features a unique apparatus for quickly taking out the credit cards without opening the wallet.
  • Holds five credit cards, a folded bill, and your ID or driver license.
  • Visible ID pocket lets you show your driver license or other ID without having to take it out.
  • Blocks RFID and NFC wireless communications.
  • Designed in New York and handmade by professional artisans in Istanbul.

When I saw the lever that ejects the credit cards from the wallet for easy access, I was afraid it could be a problem with tight pant pockets. Unfortunately, I couldn’t test if that was the case because my wife only carries the wallet in her purse. According to Kathy, the Slim Credit Card Caddy looks great, allows easy access to her cards and she can quickly transfer it from purse to purse.

The downside of her newly found admiration for minimalist wallets is that she doesn’t use the much bulkier Michael Kors* wallet anymore, I gave her for her birthday a few years ago. I guess I should have given her the Burkley wallet in the first place.

3C: Carbon Card Clip by Ögon Designs

Ögon Designs is an innovative wallet manufacturer that was founded in Paris, France in 2004. They started out creating wallets made of aluminum, but they have since added other modern and distinctive materials.

The 3C is a futuristic and high-tech wallet made of a single piece of carbon fiber. It only weighs 5 ounces and holds up to seven credit cards and bank notes. The inside of the wallet is lined with a layer of microfiber that prevents damage to your cards.

At first glance, card access seems to work similar to the Joli wallet, through a cutout on one end of the wallet. But unlike the Joli, the 3C is open on both sides, and that allows the cards to fan out for easy access. There is no need to take out all cards just to get to the one in the middle.

Made from aeronautic grade carbon fiber, it’s ultra light, strong and scratch proof. The microfiber inside will protect your cards from demagnetization and scratches, while an embedded aluminum foil will protect you from RFID thieves.

Carbon Card Clip highlights

  • Holds up to seven credit cards and banknotes.
  • RFID-safe: protects your cards from fraud.
  • Made from genuine, shockproof and scratch-resistant carbon fiber.
  • Offers a lifetime warranty.
  • Designed & made in France.

In my opinion, the 3C is the gold standard of minimalist wallets. It’s incredibly thin and light, made from a high-tech material and it allows extremely easy access to your credit cards or bank notes. Even when it’s stacked with credit cards, it’s merely 8 millimeters (0.31 inches) thick.

If I had to choose only one wallet, the 3C would be it. It’s my favorite wallet yet.

Ultimate Snap-on Stand Case by Burkley

Despite my admiration for the 3C, it ended up only being my second wallet – thanks to the Ultimate Snap-on Stand Case for my iPhone 7 Plus.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you probably know that I am not a fan of iPhone cases. But I recently changed my mind about that, when I reviewed a leather case from Twelve South. The incredibly versatile Ultimate Snap-on Case from Burkley solidified my appreciation for leather cases.

The Burkley case is not meant to be a wallet replacement per se, but it certainly lends itself to act as a super-minimalistic wallet. The case offers three card slots that I use for the cards I need most often: my driver license, an American Express and a Visa credit card. The remaining cards I carry in the 3C. So the Ultimate Snap-on Stand Case doesn’t replace my wallet, it just perfectly complements it.

Ultimate versatility

The ability of the Burkley case to complement my wallet may not have been enough to convince me of adding bulk to the slim iPhone 7 Plus*. But the built-in kickstand for hands-free viewing or calling certainly did! It turns the premium leather case into a Swiss Army knife and thus adds value that I could not possibly ignore.

Product highlights

  • A handmade leather case for Apple iPhone 7 Plus.
  • The snug fit in the inner shell of the phone case holds your smartphone safe.
  • The outer layer is bonded to the premium impact resistant polycarbonate.
  • The smooth rubber finish inside the case protects the back of the handset against scratches and smudges.
  • Easy access to charging and earphone ports.
  • An ultra-thin backbone made with hard Polycarbonate.
  • The lightweight frame provides structure, stability, and safety.
  • Has three slots in the back for credit cards or IDs.
  • Includes a kickstand for hands-free viewing or calling.

Review of minimalist wallets from Burkley, Joli, and ÖGON

All the products I have reviewed and mentioned above make excellent wallets and are made of high-quality materials. Each wallet has pros and cons that you will have to weigh based on your personal needs and requirements. I have used the Joli wallet for some years, and I truly enjoyed it, not only because of the sentimental value I associate with it. Burkley created an excellent minimalist, but a versatile wallet and my wife can certainly attest to that.

The 3C: Carbon Card Clip by Ögon Designs would be my first choice if I had to pick one wallet from among the ones I reviewed. But the Ultimate Snap-on Stand Case by Burkley turned out to be the perfect companion to the 3C, and it is my favorite leather iPhone case yet.

What’s your favorite minimalist wallet? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

2 thoughts on “Minimalist Wallets Review”

  1. Suggest taking a look at Tauruscamp Base wallet. Really a great pick and practical. So much better quality and easy to use. Especially the cash and coins pouches.. you can take a look here: tauruscamp.com

    Reply

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