Card Holder vs Wallet: Which One is Right for You?

So, you find yourself in the market for a wallet or cardholder to carry around your license, credit cards, and other cards you may need throughout the day. Maybe it's going to be your first wallet, and you are considering the option of which type of wallet to buy. Maybe you have carried a wallet for years and have given thought to trying out a cardholder.

man removing a credit card from card holder

But when it comes to a wallet vs cardholder, which one should you get? Do you buy the more traditional wallet, with its many slots for cards and large cash pocket? Or do you opt for the more sleek, minimal cardholder and only keep what is necessary on you? Let's take a look at some different features to each type of wallet, and possibly help you make the decision.

The Pros and Cons of Traditional Wallets

Most everyone is familiar with what a wallet is and how important they are to those who carry them. They store cash, cards, and up until the advancement in phone cameras, they even held pictures of loved ones inside. But is a wallet better than a cardholder? Sounds like it's time to compare the pros and cons.

What are the benefits of a wallet?

  • Wallets have more capacity— The more traditional wallet style comes in many different shapes and sizes. Ekster’s modular bi-fold wallet is slim and light while still allowing you to carry more than just the essentials. On average, though, they tend to have space for upwards of a dozen cards, plus cash and other items inside. When considering a wallet vs cardholder, a wallet is the clear choice if your main goal is to carry as many cards and items as you wish.
  • Wallets include a cash pocket— Wallets also normally come with at least one open-top pocket made to hold your paper bills. However, it can get a bit bulky; the more bills are stacked inside.
  • Wallets offer familiarity— The more common bifold and trifold wallets are the typical go-to for anyone looking for something in which to carry their valuable items. It is the type that their dads would have carried around during their early years of life. Therefore, it is the first thought for many men.

Are There Downsides to Carrying a Wallet?

  • Wallets are bulky— With a wallet that can hold more comes the inevitable struggle against overfilling the wallet. Not only can it become rather heavy and cause added wear to your pocket, but sitting on your wallet can cause back and neck pain due to throwing off the natural spinal alignment.
  • Wallets aren't exactly water-friendly— A lot of men work in some pretty harsh, sweaty conditions. Naturally, some of this sweat can become soaked into the leather of your wallet. While this won’t necessarily do any damage to your wallet, it can become almost sticky and become extremely difficult to remove from your pocket. Not to mention, it will transfer the moisture to anything inside that will absorb it.
  • A standard wallet won't protect cards from breaking— Traditional style wallets are usually made from some form of leather or fabric sewn together with heavy-duty threads. While they are usually rather resilient and wear-resistant, they are also very flexible. When comparing a card holder vs wallet, a wallet may sit in your pocket more comfortably, but that isn’t always good for the plastic cards contained inside. If you’ve had some sort of plastic banking or credit card, I’m sure you understand what a hassle having to replace your card suddenly can be when you take it out one day only to find that it is broken along the magnetic stripe, and therefore utterly useless.

The Pros and Cons of Cardholders

Cardholders are a relatively new innovation in the world of men’s accessories. Only since the system of trade has shifted more towards card-based transactions has there been a need for such a thing. These are normally constructed of metal, whether that be steel, aluminum, or even titanium. But, is a cardholder a better choice in comparison to a wallet?

What are the Benefits of a Cardholder?

  • Cardholders are slim and sleek— Cardholders tend to be much smaller than traditional wallets. They are typically only slightly larger than the cards they hold, making them more comfortable for front pocket carry and less cumbersome to the owner.
  • Most cardholders have a rigid design— As it is likely obvious, metal has a tendency to be very resistant to bending and being broken. So, logic stands to reason that cardholders made from metal, like our Aluminum Cardholder, will protect the cards inside from being bent or broken, as well, helping you to avoid the circumstance in which you are in a checkout line, only to take out your card and find it won't do you any good.
  • Cardholders contain card locking mechanisms— Most card holders come with an ingenious feature that locks the cards into place when they are inserted, keeping them from being able to fall out and ending up lost. When you need to use a card, there will be a release that frees the cards and, in some cases, even fans them out so that you can quickly identify and retrieve the card you need in that particular moment.

Man removing card from data protected compartment of aluminum cardholder wallet.

How to Use a Card Holder?

Card holders are primarily used to carry your I.D. and most important credit cards. Simply choose the cards you need to carry and slide them into the card slot. Products like this leather card holder provide quick access to your cards at the click of a button.

Are There Disadvantages to Using a Cardholder?

  • Cardholders have little to no room for cash— While some cardholders will feature a metal money clip or elastic band for bills, it is typically not a very secure way to keep cash on hand. The bills can slip out if there aren’t enough to create the pressure to hold it in place. Even the ones with places for paper money won’t usually allow very many bills to be stacked together under the band or clip. When deciding on a wallet vs cardholder, keep in mind that card holders are geared more towards those who prefer to use more secure cards as opposed to paper money.
  • Cardholders are potentially damaging— If you go with a cardholder, you will want to keep in mind that the all-metal ones have the ability to damage other objects when kept in the same pocket—for instance, your cell phone. If you put a metal cardholder in the same pocket as your fragile cell phone, it could easily scratch the screen, or even break it if you were to accidentally bump into something and bang them together in your pocket.
  • Cardholders offer limited card space— While cardholders will securely hold the cards you put into them, they each have different limitations on how many cards they will hold before you simply can’t fit anymore. So, before you purchase a cardholder, make sure you have an idea of how many cards you may need to have on your person and buy according to that number.

Wallet or Card Holder: Which is Better?

The verdict on this one is that there really is no definitive verdict. Choosing a wallet or card holder all depends on the person carrying the wallet and the purposes they need it to serve.

If you like to carry cash and other items just in case they become necessary, or you just prefer the look and familiarity that comes with a more traditional wallet, you will likely want to stick with a billfold style wallet. However, if you are one of an increasing number of people in the ever-growing number of cashless consumers, and you prefer a smaller package with a more sleek and modern design, you will be better served by a cardholder.

The choice of cardholder vs wallet is really up to the individual. However, no matter what type you decide best fits your needs and preferences, be sure to get it from a reputable retailer that uses quality materials in the construction of their wallets and cardholders. That way, you can be sure that you will get the best use and lifespan from what is sure to be one of your most important and guarded possessions.

Find Slim Wallets & Card Holders From Ekster

At Ekster, we’ve created sustainable, durable and reliable slim wallets and card holders that can easily fit in your pocket or purse. Our minimalist wallets were made to simplify your life and save you time. Shop our collection of wallets and card holders today.

Ekster Wallet Collection

Some card wallets





About Ekster

Here at Ekster, we're in the business of making your life easier.

We started with upgrading the traditional leather wallet, making it easier to use and harder to lose. Now, we're taking on the rest of your essentials to make each day easier for you.

Learn more about Ekster

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