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October 6, 2011 9:05 AM   Subscribe

I need wallet suggestions -- details inside, of course.

I have a lot of cards. I just counted, and I have approximately 20 cards in my wallet now, and nearly all get used at some point during a month. Plus I often have to save receipts, and I do carry a little cash, but not much. I currently prefer and use a trifold wallet, but my wallet needs have grown since the days of one debit card and a driver's license. I've got George Costanza's wallet in my pocket and my wife blames it for everything from my foot pain to my back pain (I do have to take it out while driving due to discomfort).

Enough about my wallet-induced gout -- I want to hear your suggestions for awesome wallets. My only restrictions are that it has to hold a lot of cards (getting rid of more than a couple cards isn't an option), and it has to fit in a normal jeans back pocket (I'd prefer one that doesn't stick out, but I'm open to suggestions). Or, if you have a solution for easy card-carrying to free up my wallet for money/receipt purposes, that'd work too.

Yes, I have heard about people combining many loyalty/membership barcodes on a single card or putting them in their smartphone for ease of storage; that's not the kind fo solution I'm asking for.
posted by AzraelBrown to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There are lots of wallets that will hold cards and fit in your back pocket. But it sounds as though your real question is something like, "how can I constantly sit on a stack of 2 inches of paper on one side of my butt without being uncomfortable?" And the answer there is that you can't.

I basically carry two wallets. One is tiny and thin and contains only my ID, 1-2 cards, transit pass, cash, and a post-it with my in-case-of-emergency info on it. That wallet lives in my pocket. The other is basically a big card carrier, for my loyalty cards and coupons and memberships and whatever else I need. That lives in my bag, so while it goes with me 90% of the places I go, it doesn't get stuffed in the pocket of my jeans. If you insist on putting everything you might ever need in your back pocket, there is no way to reduce the amount of stuff in your back pocket.
posted by decathecting at 9:18 AM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have approximately 20 cards in my wallet now, and nearly all get used at some point during a month. ... (getting rid of more than a couple cards isn't an option)

A month is a long time. Wallets are for daily carry. Have you considered exploring the middle ground between "getting rid of" cards versus carrying all of them in your back pocket daily?

Here's the thing. You're asking for a new wallet, but your description of your problem is entirely about wallet management. You don't identify anything that's wrong with your current wallet. It doesn't sound like you need a new tool. It sounds like you need new habits.
posted by red clover at 9:19 AM on October 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Nthing a second wallet. Best thing I ever did to keep my sanity.

Pop the second wallet in your glove box of your car. (if that applies)
posted by royalsong at 9:28 AM on October 6, 2011

I do think that reducing the number of cards you carry would be a good idea, but failing that, get smaller cards. Seriously. A lot of loyalty cards are available as small keyring-sized tabs. When I was at Bank of America, they issued me a swipeable card that was about 1/3 the normal size. See if you can get more like that from other card issuers.
posted by adamrice at 9:35 AM on October 6, 2011

Response by poster: Ok, followup:

1. Barcodes are infrequent, which is why I said not to focus on those. Most of the cards in my wallet have magnetic strips or RFID, or simply require physical presence. I had originally written a long list of what's in my wallet, but felt it didn't help my request. In a sense, I've got two wallets worth of cards -- ones I need for work, and ones I need for personal reasons.

2. I have tried leaving less-frequently-used cards at home: they get misplaced or left behind when needed.

Yes, behavior modification solves many, many things, which I agree with, but I'm looking for wallet-based solutions, which is how I phrased the question.
posted by AzraelBrown at 9:36 AM on October 6, 2011

Why don't you get a larger wallet, put a strap on it, and carry it over your shoulder? Sort of like this
posted by kmennie at 9:38 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

In that case, I suggest getting two identical wallets, distributing the cards so that they're of equal thicknesses, and putting one in each of your two back pockets.
posted by decathecting at 9:43 AM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: One possibility is to go for one of these "Thinnest wallet in the world"-type wallets. They're designed to hold your excessive numbers of cards while remaining very thin.

If you want something leather, I have a men's double-billfold wallet with ID case from Coach. It holds a lot of cards and his very, very durable-- I've owned it for 10 years, and it's still in one piece. Sure, it's bulky with all of those cards, but you're used to that.
posted by deanc at 10:03 AM on October 6, 2011

Best answer: If you don't buy a wallet from, you are acting recklessly. One of my favorite purchases of all time (sad, but true).
posted by 2legit2quit at 10:04 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, behavior modification solves many, many things, which I agree with, but I'm looking for wallet-based solutions, which is how I phrased the question.

Sort of. The way you phrased the question is why you're getting behavior-related suggestions. You described your habits and explicitly admitted that those habits are the reason your current wallet isn't working...and then you asked for a different wallet. There seems to be a disconnect between those two paragraphs, which you even appeared to recognize in your segue.

You might get better answers if you could specify exactly how your current wallet fails to meet your needs. The only thing you said about it is that it's tri-fold. How many card slots does it have, and are you looking for more? Does it have one currency slot, or two? Would you need/use two currency slots? On one hand, that's an extra piece of leather/fabric adding to the wallet's bulk; on the other hand, it could separate your cash and receipts. Does it have an ID window? Does it have interior security pockets? If so, do you use them? Again, that might be leather/fabric that could be spared.

Twenty cards is a lot. You don't specify anything about the cards themselves. For instance, in my wallet: I have two IDs that are thin and flexible; two credit cards of normal thickness; an ID pass with built-in RFID for security that is a bit thicker; and a wallet key for my car. Even for the "thin and flexible" cards, 20 would be pushing the limits of what I could carry comfortably. I definitely couldn't fit 20 RFID cards, even if I put them in my back pocket without a wallet. What kind of cards are you talking about? Are they credit-card sized, or thicker/thinner? For that matter, what kind of receipts are you saving? If they're consistently from one or two companies and always the same size, that's relatively easy to plan around. If you're just referring to "receipts" generally, the size will vary. Normal retail receipts vary in length and width. Invoice receipts are larger. Etc. Maybe you can keep your receipts in a currency slot, or maybe a passport pocket would be worth considering.

The biggest wallet I've seen that I would ever consider carrying has 12 card slots. If some of your 20 cards are "thin and flexible" sized, that might work for you. If they are all credit card-sized, it might not. At some point this problem merely becomes one of physics: You want to carry A, B, C, X, Y, and Z, and have them all fit into N-space. That may or may not be feasible.
posted by red clover at 10:10 AM on October 6, 2011

I did a card-count: I have about 23 card-like items in my wallet, including my driver's license. They fit in my Coach bifold, though some of the cards are in a plastic wallet insert designed to hold multiple cards that goes in the "pouch" of the other side of the billfold. This works for me-- and it's basically a hybrid solution: you have a leather wallet with card slots which are bulky, but the plastic wallet insert can hold a lot of cards and stay thin.
posted by deanc at 10:18 AM on October 6, 2011

Could you carry a purse? Doesn't have to be feminine, but it seems like keeping everything on you at all times is important.
posted by pintapicasso at 10:19 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

does it have to be in your back pocket? I carry mine in my front pocket for comfort reasons... I cannot stand sitting on a wallet, even a thin one. Also, presumably, makes it harder to steal from my pocket.
posted by utsutsu at 10:22 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can you carry the essentials in your standard wallet and then keep the rest of them in pouch of some sort in your messenger bag? Life might be easier if you started carrying a messenger bag. (I do not understand how men manage to carry their keys, wallet, phone, etc etc without a bag of some sort, but my own purse weighs like 100 pounds so maybe I to have stuff with me.) I personally have something like this for receipts in my bag, and I also use it to stash the cards I need occasionally but not daily (my gym ID, my library card, my pass to the yoga place, yada).
posted by Countess Sandwich at 10:33 AM on October 6, 2011

Seconding front-pocketing your wallet (in addition to finding a better wallet), if it might be contributing to foot/leg/back problems.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:42 AM on October 6, 2011

I've been using the leather version of the All-ett wallet for the past few years. It carries credit cards in two side-by-side stacks rather than in one big stack, substantially reducing the bulk, and fits in the back pocket of jeans and every other pants I've worn.
posted by zombiedance at 10:50 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding the all-ett. I use the nylon sport one and they're very thin.
posted by jefftang at 11:08 AM on October 6, 2011

And thirding the All-ett. I have the leather one with about 17 cards in it. It's by far the thinnest wallet I've found.

A word of advice - move the wallet to the front pocket. Otherwise it puts strain on your lower back. If you spend most of your day sitting in an office chair, this will lead to pain. I used to have random attacks of serious lower back pain until I put the wallet in front.
posted by bitmage at 12:42 PM on October 6, 2011

Might wallets?

They're thin and durable, plus I have about a dozen cards in mine and could easily fit them all in one side. Also, the bill section has a little divider in it that I use to separate cash from receipts and coupons.
posted by dagnyscott at 1:36 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I am, admittedly, an evangelist for carrying as little as possible in a wallet, but if you're steadfastly clinging to the notion that you need everything in your wallet with you at all times of the day and night then you really do need to share a bit more about your wallet beyond "trifold".

Beyond that I think something like the Super Skinny from BigSkinny might be your best bet.

Last plug for simplicity: I once sat across from a dear friend in my industry who travels constantly all over the world. He pulled out his Costanza and it fell apart in front of my eyes. It was so overloaded. I sat with him and went through everything that had just fell out of the wallet. Turns out there really were only eight cards that he needed to carry regularly. You may, in fact, have legitimate reason to carry more than this regularly. But you are essentially pulling the whole "Doctor, it hurts when I do this" schtick and demanding that the doctor NOT tell you to stop the behavior that causes the pain.
posted by FlamingBore at 2:11 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

2. I have tried leaving less-frequently-used cards at home: they get misplaced or left behind when needed.

Granted, I almost always carry a bag with me; bit in the bag I carry an Umbra Case
with things like AAA card, insurance, flex benefits card, rewards cards - lesser used stuff.

Cash and ID, debit card all go in a mighty wallet, which I carry on my person.
posted by Lutoslawski at 7:19 PM on October 6, 2011

Response by poster: I went with the Leather Hybrid Super Skinny Bi-Fold Wallet, and I must say it is the awesomest wallet I could ever have imagined. Being so very flat, and the ability to bend in the middle to conform to curves, makes it a winner. The only problem was that BigSkinny sent me the wrong wallet at first, but we got things straightened out.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:36 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

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