I hate fat wallets, and I cannot lie. And I don’t want to end up like this guy:
This is why, a few years ago, I started using a Jimi wallet. A slim, hard plastic card wallet billed as ‘The wallet for people who hate wallets’, the Jimi wallet won’t be to everyone’s taste. What you gain in svelteness of wallet, you lose in… well, it’s hard plastic. If you’re used to leather, the Jimi wallet could feel a bit tacky. You also lose the compartment where you store your money. That’s not a big deal to me as I tend to carry it loose, but I appreciate that for others this is the raison d’etre for having a wallet.
Anyway, my Jimi boy has been on its last legs for a few months now. The plastic fold that acts as a hinge has half-torn, and I managed to snap off half of a piece of its innards, which means I have a jagged piece of plastic about to slice my fingers every time I open it up.
I got some good usage out of my Jimi wallet, and I was quite prepared to buy another one (albeit perhaps in a snazzier colour than the original, which was black). However, it seems they’re a bit harder to get hold of in the UK these days, and I wasn’t inclined to pay for international shipping. So I started researching alternatives, which is how I encountered the Secrid range – and after one look at the Secrid Miniwallet’s whizzy card release mechanism, I was pretty much sold. At the time of writing I’ve owned it for about three weeks, and am thus far very happy with it.
Secrid is a Dutch brand whose wallets all contain an aluminium RFID card protector (one of the wallets even contains two of them). They call this feature, enigmatically, the Cardprotector. The Cardprotector is intended to prevent your RFID cards – that is, travel passes, chipped debit/credit cards, etc – from being read when they shouldn’t be. The card release mechanism means you can eject your cards and select the one you want to use at any particular time.
For anyone else wondering about the pros and cons of a Secrid Miniwallet versus a Jimi wallet, here are my findlings. I’ve compared them on price, size, style,
bouncebackability, durability and capacity.
Secrid wallet v. Jimi wallet: price
Aside from style, which I’ll talk more about later, this is probably where the two wallets diverge the most. The Jimi wallet goes for only about $15/£10, although as I mentioned, I had trouble finding one in the UK recently so you might need to add international shipping to that if you’re in the UK. It was my aversion to paying for this that led me to the Secrid range which, er, cost a fair amount more than an internationally-shipped Jimi wallet would probably cost. Go figure (it out).
I paid £41.20 for my Secrid Miniwallet, including postage and packing from France (FYI that’s European shipping not international, ahem).
Winner: Jimi wallet.
Secrid wallet v. Jimi wallet: size
As you can see, there’s not much to separate them on size. In fact, the dimensions of the main bodies of the wallets are almost identical. The differences come when you consider what I’m going to call The Protuberances. The Jimi wallet has a lid of sorts, which you open by applying pressure to the side of the wallet; while the Secrid has the card release switch at the bottom plus – on the model I bought – I front popper/clasp on a little strap which allows it to keep its shape.
In terms of thickness, again, there’s little difference – but the Secrid wallet’s strap means that section is a few millimetres thicker than the Jimi wallet. It’s worth noting here while the version I have is called the Secrid Miniwallet, there is a version without this strap feature, called the Slimwallet.
For minimalist slim wallet purists – and yes, they exist – the Secrid wallet might be that bit too thick. For me it’s fine – it’s only slightly bigger than the Jimi wallet I’ve been using for the last few years, and The Protuberances haven’t turned out to be things I wish I’d considered more carefully. It fits in my front jeans pocket just fine (I never put my wallet in my back pocket – but it would fit fine if you wanted to), it’s smaller than my phone and many other day-to-day objects. Even Radian B!
Winner: it’s a draw.
Secrid wallet v. Jimi wallet: style
Despite my Jimi wallet being, essentially, a hunk of black plastic, it did have a certain mysterious flair before it got all scratched up. When people saw it they would ask questions, like ‘Ooh, what’s that?’ (friends) and ‘Sir, is that an electronic device?’ (Newark airport security). While having people question you on your wallet is not necessarily a life goal in itself, it does make you feel, temporarily at least, like The Coolest.
The chances are that if you’re reading this you might have checked out the odd video/review of Secrid wallets already, so I don’t have too much to add with regards the RFID Cardprotector mechanism, except to say that it’s so delicious you’ll wish it was lunch. When you show it to people, and they lose their excrement over it (not literally), you feel kind of like James Bond, Dynamo and David Beckham all in one.
It’s an intoxicating mélange, I don’t mind telling you.
Aside from its killer app, I love how my Miniwallet looks. The brown leather had a couple of scuffs on the front when it arrived, but everyone knows brown leather looks better when it’s worn in, so I wasn’t bothered by this.
If there’s an element that might put off more macho chaps, it’s that, as befits its country of origin, the Secrid wallet does look decidedly ‘European’. By which I mean that when you combine a wallet of this size with a front fastening strap, it could call to mind a lady’s pocketbook from The Olden Times. In sizeable hands this wallet feels positively dainty, especially if you’re switching from a traditional, receipt-stuffed foldover affair.
To me, this point of difference is a plus. Reduced size plus style points was kind of what I was looking for. But it might not work for a guy whose self-esteem is dependant on the size of his car or watch, say (miaow!). Meanwhile, ladies, I feel, will love the fact that Secrid has a considerable range of colours on offer.
We may be entering the era of the unisex wallet, y’all.
Winner: Secrid Miniwallet. No contest.
Secrid wallet v. Jimi wallet: durability
At the time of writing I’ve had my Secrid wallet for about three weeks, so clearly I’m not going to be able to tell you how it performs long-term yet. And since the Jimi wallet did well for me for a few years, at a cost of less than £15, it kind of wins this round by default.
I was not particularly gentle with my little Jimi, perhaps because with a tough plastic shell I knew it could take a battering. It’s been dropped, scratched and
impulsively employed as a murder weapon thrown about. But the only thing that really impacted on its durability was daily use. The hinge gradually weakened and the two halves of the shell started to misalign more regularly when I closed it. The plastic clip on the inside snapped partially.
One of my misgivings about the Secrid wallet was that RFID Cardprotecter mechanism – because if something has a mechanism, that’s something that can break. And if that something is holding your debit card, credit card, travel pass and work security pass, and you suddenly lose access to those things, you’re gonna have a bad time.
The effectiveness of this mechanism over time is to be confirmed, but I estimate I use it 8-10 times a day during the working week and then say 0-8 times over the weekend, depending on how much pressure to leave the house I can withstand. So let’s say that’s a minimum of 45 and a maximum of 55 times a week I’m using that little lever. That’s 2,860 uses over a year (plus about 100 for showing-off purposes). So if this things lasts a year it will have endured around 3,000 uses. I hope it’s up to the task.
(FYI: Secrid wallets come with a two year guarantee, but this does not cover ‘normal wear and tear’, which is a term that will never be anything other than disconcertingly vague.)
Winner: Jimi wallet.
Secrid wallet v. Jimi wallet: capacity
So, how much crap can you fit in these things? Well, not much, because that’s kind of the point. The more space you have, the more receipts and never-gonna-use-’em loyalty cards you’re tempted to acquire. So the point of slim wallets is to just house the essentials. (I should reiterate at this point that I don’t keep coins in my wallet, I carry them loose. I’m a loose coin cannon.)
My scientific test saw me fit the following into each wallet to assess its capability to handle a variety of thingamajigs:
- Two embossed bank cards (i.e. a debit card & a credit card)
- Five non-embossed cards (library card, travel pass, work security pass, unnamed food outlet loyalty card, charity gift aid card)
- Three cardboard cards (e.g. business cards, stampable loyalty cards)
- One small book of 12 postage stamps
This was just a bit too much for the Jimi wallet to handle. This amount of stuff put pressure on the fastening lid and caused it to misalign slightly, and while five cards (two embossed, three non-embossed) all went into the main cardholder compartment easily enough, they were crammed in a bit too tightly to make card extraction a hassle-free experience.
This is where the Secrid’s more sophisticated design pays what I believe are known as ‘dividends’. It’s designed to take ‘six cards, of which one with embossing. Or five cards, of which three with embossing.’ My two embossed and three non-embossed cards fit into the card protector no problem, and of course the card release mechanism means getting them out is easy too. The remaining cards fit fine into the two interior pockets.
In addition, the Secrid Miniwallet also houses a plastic sleeve that unfolds and into which you can place paper money (which apparently still exists). This sleeve is not the prettiest of touches, and if you habitually carry around thick wads of dough – let’s say you’re a loan shark – it probably won’t be right for you; but it does the job of storing a few paper notes effectively.
Winner: Secrid Miniwallet.
In the end, if you’re looking to choose between these two wallets you’re not going to be concerned about how much paper money they store – you’re already sold on the idea of a slimmer wallet whose primary function is to carry cards.
So it comes down to whether the functionality and style of the Secrid Miniwallet makes it worth the higher price. And, despite the result of this comparison being 3-3, for me the answer is a resounding yes. The only question I have around it at this early point is whether it will prove to be as durable as the hard plastic of the Jimi wallet.
That card release mechanism, though. It could be made out of blancmange and I’d still be a sucker for it.