Looking for a Smart Wallet like the Ekster Parliament or Senate? Don’t know what the heck a Smart Wallet is but too embarrassed to ask? And what’s an Ejector Wallet, that sounds a little James Bond-ish? No worries – we’ve got you covered. Read on for our Ekster Wallet review!
First a little background. Men and women have been losing their wallets (and valuables) for as long as they’ve been carrying them around in their back pocket. While security is obviously the biggest concern, it also a nuisance or annoyance — you’re without all of your stuff!
Sure, you can cancel your cards, order a new license (sometimes you may have to go in to actually take the picture again — what a whip!), and the cash we typically carry is minimal. All that said, it’s a real hassle to do all of that, then have to navigate the next 10 days without everything.
The solution? The Smart Wallet.
What Is a Smart Wallet?
Smart wallets seamlessly integrate with an app on your phone via a Bluetooth or GPS card, or an embedded chip, to help locate the wallet.
We like the card approach because it you can remove it and put it in (say) your luggage if you want to track something else temporarily.
Founded in 2015, by two friends out of Amsterdam and a Kickstarter guru, Ekster was one of the pioneers in the smart wallet revolution.
They were tired of the endless line of boring options in the EDC wallet space. They wanted to address the problem we mentioned above — losing your wallet, but also all of the other issues that are important in the world of everyday carry.
The wallet had to be slim, high quality and look awesome! As you’ll see in our review below, they were successful…
Let’s dive into two of their most successful wallets launched, the Ekster Parliament and the Ekster Senate.
The Ekster Parliament Wallet and Senate Wallet have a big brother / little brother relationship. Well, not really, but one is a bit more beefed up version of the other.
Review of the Ekster Wallets
What we’d like to do is take a look at both wallets at the same time. It’s helpful to have both of them in front of you when you’re deciding on which one is right for you.
Specifically, we’ll examine them both across four major categories Size, Durability, Aesthetics & Function. In our opinion, these four items are the most important factor(s) when deciding on a new wallet.
For both wallet dimensions, we’re talking just slightly larger than your standard credit card, which means they both fit snugly in your front pocket without much notice. The wallets are a bit “taller” than your typical card because of the built in release mechanism, but more on that later.
Bottom Line: The difference here is minimal in terms of size. Although the Parliament Wallet is slightly wider and thicker than the Senate, we’re talking 0.2 inches here—which is almost negligible. We wouldn’t make a decision based on size alone. Especially when it’s so little.
Durability is obviously important when spending money on anything, but especially important when spending money on something you use (or carry) every day. These Ekster wallets are well made. I’m not saying they’re family heirlooms or anything like that, but you can reasonably expect to get years out of them before it’s time to move on.
Quite honestly, do you have a nice pair of jeans or shoes that you’ve had for 15-20 years? We didn’t think so. A nice wallet is very similar.
Expect to get 2-3 years out of it then upgrade or try something else. These wallets won’t crap out on you after 3 months.
We like Ekster because the focus is obviously on the quick release mechanism (keep reading), but they don’t skimp on their leathers. You can read about leather quality here.
They use Top Grain Dutch and German leathers (and from our experience), they are top flight in terms of overall quality and aging. They will develop a nice leather patina over time and each wallet is unique, which you don’t see in typically in cheap, mass produced wallets.
Bottom Line: It’s a tie here. They both use the same high-quality materials and will age well.
At first glance, the Senate and Parliament from Ekster look very similar. They both come in the same color range which consists of the following colors:
While they offer the same colors in the terms of color profile, where they differ aesthetically is the Cash Strap. On the Senate, the Cash Strap is completely on the outside, visibly shown on the exterior of the wallet. On the Parliament, however, the Cash Strap is neatly tucked away behind bifold portion of the wallet.
This is key because we love, love, love the Cash Strap portion — we’ll talk more about that in the section below.
The benefit of having it hidden is that you 1) protect your cash 2) develop a nice patina on the exterior of the bifold portion of the Parliament 3) keep the cash strap from grabbing on anything in your pocket when inserting or removing.
Bottom Line: We like the Parliament here. It looks and feels nice in your hand with the bifold layout. When you add in the features we mention above, it’s a winner in terms of aesthetics, but not by much. Both wallets are easy on the eyes.
Here is where we’re going to start seeing some differences (yet similarities).
Ejector Wallet Functionality
What the Ekster is all about (other than being a smart wallet) is fast access to your cards. That’s where the ejector mechanism comes in to play. With the click of a tab/button/lever (we’re not sure what we want to call it) all of your cards effortlessly shoot out from being tucked away securely inside the wallet.
The best part is they come stacked as though part of a pyramid, so you can easily choose which card you need for that particular moment.
The only catch is that you can fit 5 cards in the mechanism, not 4, not 6 (unless one or more isn’t embossed – i.e. is thinner). It doesn’t work well if you use 4, so we encourage you to use gift cards or something similar to fill it out with exactly five cards.
They are both ejector wallets, so we’ll move on the next feature.
Card Case vs Bifold
The Senate is more of a traditional card case or card wallet. There is no open and closed part of the wallet, what you see is what you get.
The Cash Strap fits nicely around the wallet (like we mentioned before) and it fits slimly in your front pocket.
We have seen some users who swear by their card case — saying, “I’d never carry a TRADITIONAL bifold” or “Keep it slim for me”. We get it.
It will work well for those who don’t need to carry more than 5 cards, but if you have 7, 8 or even 9 cards that you carry often—you’ll run out of room. It’s really not necessary to carry a ton of cards, but it is what it is.
Some people just need to carry a few more. If that’s not you, then the Senate is perfect. If it is, keep reading below to check out the Parliament.
The Parliament has all of the cool functionality we mentioned above with The Senate — the awesome quick draw mechanism, the convenient cash strap for carrying bills/cash—but what if you run out of room?
That’s where this wallet comes into the picture. The Senate is basically “turned into” a bifold wallet. You now have a smooth finish on the leather exterior, with two additional card pockets on the interior.
This really takes it over the top, having a couple of extra places to store cards, but still remain slim.
Bottom Line: Again, we know it’s a matter of preference, but we like the Parliament in terms of overall functionality. You honestly don’t sacrifice any of the “slim factor” and you get two extra pockets.
Where’s My Wallet? | Ekster GPS Tracker
This is why we’re here, right? All wallets basically do the same thing—carry your cards and/or cash and keep said goods secure. The tracking feature on the Ekster is what separates it from the rest of the slim wallets. Let’s dive into what the tracker is – and what it isn’t.
Ekster has partnered with Chipolo to create a Crowd-GPS/Bluetooth Tracker in the form of a “wallet-sized” card. This card fits neatly in your Ekster Parliament or Senate (no, its not included, its a separate purchase) to make the wallet that much more unlosable—is that even a word?
They have an app that’s easily downloaded off the App Store or Play Store (iPhone or Android) and you can then connect your card tracker (wallet). Note that you don’t even need to do this if you have an iPhone – the latest version can use Apple’s own FindMy technology.
We knew what bluetooth tracking was, but we had to dig a bit to find out the deets on crowd-tracking. The gist of it is this—millions of people are using these products to track their goods. They are in essence a part of a network or community that helps people find their stuff.
Bluetooth tracking works if you’re within 50-100 feet of the product. Once you leave or lose your wallet and are more than the “Bluetooth distance” away from it—the crowd-tracking kicks in.
You can see exactly where your wallet was last seen, but if someone else who has tracker software installed on their phone walks by your device, it will securely (and privately) send you an update as to the exact location of your tracker. (If you have any issues pairing the device to your phone, the user manual is pretty comprehensive.)
The person who sent it will never even know it, they’re just doing a good deed by being a part of the network. (also – people won’t steal your stuff)
If you think it’s nearby, you can also use the app to make the card start beeping. It’s not as loud as we’d hoped, but it compares to other tracking devices we’ve tested, such as the Tile (hint, this card is rechargeable unlike the Tile — just leave it out in the sun for a few hours (3) and you’ll have enough battery for a month!)
UPDATED With Apple’s FindMy Technology
The features just keep on coming. You can link these cards with voice assistants so you can ask Siri, Alexa, Google, “Where’s my wallet?”. You can set a proximity alert to have your phone warn you when you leave your wallet behind. We’ve got to admit, this is pretty amazing stuff.
Overall Ekster is a solid manufacturer. They’ve put a lot of thought and effort into their line of products and you can really tell. They have released multiple versions now of their wallet line and continue to improve with each release. We read through a ton of reviews (after we did our own so we weren’t influenced) and saw similar positive thoughts and similar concerns.
At the time of writing:
- The average rating on Trustpilot (through the Ekster site) was just under 5 Stars from ~900 reviews
- The average rating on Amazon was just over 4.4 Stars – from over 4000 ratings
To be transparent, some of the Amazon reviews had merit, but some did not. We noticed 2 & 3 Star for the customer being upset that it couldn’t hold more cash. We’re not really sure what they expected in a minimalist wallet?
It can easily hold a few bills, but if you regularly carry 8-10 bills, then this wallet probably isn’t for you. That said, most minimalist wallets won’t be for you to be fair.
At the time of writing, around 70% of the Amazon ratings were 5 stars. The negative reviews didn’t seem to match up (as a whole) with most of the other reviews we read through and our own experience. Note also that Ekster does offer a 1 year warranty on Manufacturer defects.
Drum roll please!
As we've said above, we prefer the Parliament. It has a little more capacity and we like the internal cash strap.
However - we'll be the first to admit its a close-run thing and anyone who is obsessed with having the most-minimal-possible wallet should certainly try the Senate.
Before You Go…
We hope this Ekster Wallet Review was helpful! Now, the Ekster is a great option, but it’s not the only one out there. Check out our next article on wallet trackers for more:
Where Are Ekster Wallets Made?
Ekster Wallets are made from materials sourced in the USA and Europe, and assembled in China. The company itself is headquartered in the Netherlands.
Do Ekster Wallets Break Easily?
Some of the users complained about the mechanism breaking. We didn’t really see this happening unless you were unusually rough with it. Some people are just hard on their stuff, but this something we wanted to make you aware of.
Do Ekster Wallets Need To Be Charged?
The wallets themselves, no. The tracker unit needs power to operate but one thing we really liked about this was that it charges with solar power and doesn’t require yet another brick charger. Ekster claim that three hours of solar charging provides two months of power!
Can Ekster Wallets Get Wet?
The tracker card is water resistant, not waterproof. A little rain won’t hurt, but stay out of the pool….
Can Ekster Wallets Vibrate?
Yes, the tracker both vibrates and rings when you’re trying to find it
How Long Does An Ekster Wallet Last?
The tracker card lasts a month or more after about three hours of charging. The wallet itself is well-made, appears very durable, and we think it should be solid for several years.
Post cover image provided by Ekster Press Kit
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Last update on 2023-03-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API