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The Definitive Ekster Senate Hands-on Review: Best Pop-up Wallet in 2022


The Ekster Senate wallet

Kim Stone

Ekster Senate smart wallet front
Design
Quality
Performance
Value

Highlights

After carrying the newest version of one of the Ekster Senate wallet (Ekster 3.0) for a few months now, I am super impressed by its design, features, quality, and overall performance. It feels good. It looks good. And with the Ekster 3.0 solar-powered tracking card, it’s almost impossible to lose.

Use Discount code WALLETSURFER for an extra 5% off at checkout.

4.5

PROS

  • Excellent leather quality and craftsmanship
  • RFID protection for up to 6 credit cards
  • Ejects cards into a perfect fan
  • Trackable with optional solar wallet tracker card

CONS

  • Ejection button occasionally sticks
  • Back pocket is too tight to easily insert and remove tracker card

I have really given this wallet a thorough test drive so you can make an intentional buying decision based on my personal experience. By the time you’re done reading this Ekster Senate wallet review, you’ll know just as much as I do.

A slim design for men and women

It all started with 2 Dutch college students who used Kickstarter to crowdfund the first version of the Ekster trackable wallet in 2016. Three years later, after two more Kickstarter campaigns, the newest Ekster Senate 3.0 wallet and solar tracking card hit the market in March 2019. 

They’ve done a heck of a job, too. The Ekster wallet looks and feels like quality. The leather is smooth with color-matched stitching that’s impeccably even and consistent. The wallet is slim and minimalist and glides in and out of my front pocket as if it were custom made for it.

The Ekster Senate smart wallet
Ekster Senate with Roma Cognac leather. Photo: Kim Stone

I know that sounds like hype. But in my experience of carrying the Ekster Senate wallet for the past several years, I have really found it to be true.

Beautiful leather and stitching

In the first generation of the Senate 3.0, Ekster used European leather that was sourced from bulls rather than cows. They said that pregnant cows leave stretch marks that can form imperfections in the leather. First I ever heard of that.

But in 2021, they have now switched to sourcing their leather from ECCO tanneries. No word on whether the bull versus cow leather still applies.

The top grain leather is tanned under gold-rated LWG environmental protocols. After tanning, they apply a two-toned finish to the leather that enhances the look as the wallet ages and molds to the pocket it’s carried in. As with most high-quality leather, it develops a character that’s as individual as the owner who carries it. 

Ekster Senate smart wallet front
Front of Ekster Senate. Photo: Kim Stone

Ekster Senate smart wallet back
Back of Ekster Senate with a view of the outside leather pocket and quality stitching. Photo: Kim Stone

The Ekster wallet has a minimalist footprint, but that doesn’t mean it’s only for guys. I think of it as a really slim wallet for men, but my wife likes the look and attention to detail. This could be an ideal wallet to throw into a small purse or clutch.

An RFID blocking cardholder that pops up (ejects) cards into a fan

Rather than a wallet in the conventional sense, the Ekster Senate is really a credit cardholder. A rigid aluminum box holds your cards in place and keeps them from bending or breaking.

The aluminum metal blocks unwanted RFID scanning that can potentially reveal your personal data to someone with the right equipment.

The Ekster wallet’s claim to fame is that it pops-up your credit cards. Push the black button at the bottom corner of the wallet and it will eject up to 6 of your cards into a staggered fan.

Fanning out credit cards using the push button ejection system of the Ekster Senate wallet.
  1. Push the black button at the bottom of the wallet
  2. Choose the card you want
  3. Reinsert the card when you’re done
  4. Push all of the cards back inside
  5. Repeat

It’s that easy. Sis boom bah.

If some of the cards have raised letters, you’ll have to reduce that number in the cardholder to about 4. The great thing is that once the cards eject, enough of each card is revealed so you can easily identify which is which. 

ekster senate smart wallet with cards ejected
Cards eject into perfect fan so you see just enough of each card to choose the one you need. Photo: Kim Stone

I usually put the card I use the most in back because it’s the easiest one to pull out. It’s so fun to use that you’ll find yourself pushing the button compulsively just to watch them pop up.

Best of all, the cards stay inside the aluminum case no matter how hard you try to shake them out. 

It’s a money clip wallet, too

Ekster designed their cardholder wallets to store and eject credit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards, or any other card that’s the same size. But they also understand people need a minimal amount of space to hold miscellaneous currency, receipts, or a concert ticket stub. So they opted to include a flexible money band.

I like the money band over a metal or carbon fiber money clip because the clip has a tendency to snag in my pocket when I’m putting it in. The money band slides in and out smoothly.

Photo: Kim Stone

The money band is a 1” wide band of black elastic with a small square of color-matched leather with the Ekster crest stitched onto it. It’s both classy and functional. I use it to hold everything from cash to bandaids to a USB drive. 

The band is attached to part of the wallet that contains a leather pocket for cash or the optional solar tracking card. So when you remove the band, the leather pocket comes with it.

If you want to make the Senate an even more comfortable front pocket carry, you can remove the band with the attached pocket and just carry the bare bones cardholder. This really minimalizes it at just 5/16” thick. The Senate also ships with a second money band that you can place on the bare cardholder. 

Ekster cardholder with elastic money band and leather pocket removed. Ekster wallet review.
Ekster Senate cardholder with money band and leather pocket removed for a really thin carry. Photo: Kim Stone

No matter what configuration you use, everything is wrapped in top grain leather. The only exposed part of the wallet not covered in leather is the black plastic button at the bottom that ejects the cards. 

The Ekster Senate is a perfect minimalist EDC

The Ekster Senate cardholder wallet is my everyday carry. I have been using it now for over a year and it still looks like the day I bought it.

Paying for groceries in a self-service line is a snap with zero fumbling for my credit card. With the push of a button, I pop up my cards into a fan and choose the card I want. Bam! My fast transaction time has just set a new checkout land speed record.

The Senate comes in 7 different colors of leather. Maybe it was the romantic-sounding name, but I fell for the leather called Roma Cognac. It holds up to 10 cards, but only 6 of them fit within the RFID-protective aluminum cardholder.

You can carry the other 4 cards in the back pocket, under the money band, or wedge them between the cardholder and the pocket strap. For me, 10 is too much. 6 is just right.

6 cards fit nicely within the RFID protected aluminum cardholder and don’t fall out. Photo: Kim Stone

The dimensions are 4.1” x 2.3” and just a mere 0.3” thick. For comparison, credit cards are 3.3” x 2.1”. The Ekster Senate is not as tiny as some ultra-minimalist wallets like the Ridge wallet (which is the same size as a credit card). But it’s close.

But for me? The convenience of the pop-up ejection for my cards easily justifies the 25% increase in size over the Ridge.

One of my favorite features is that it’s narrow enough to fit next to my iPhone in my left front pocket. For most wallets, your phone and wallet have no other choice than to ride on top of each other. That’s bad form. Even better, the Senate is wrapped in soft top-grain leather so it won’t scratch up my phone like a metal wallet would.

Ekster Senate fits next to iphone in front pocket
My iPhone 8 and Ekster Senate sit next to each other comfortably in the front pocket of my Levis.

If you don’t need the capacity of 10 cards, you can remove the elastic pocket strap and just carry the cardholder itself. This doesn’t change the outside dimensions, but it makes it even slimmer.

When I first opened the box, I almost missed the additional money band they included. Slide this extra band over the cardholder if you want to carry cash after you remove the pocket strap. 

Find your wallet with the Ekster solar tracking card

You can purchase either the Senate and Parliament wallets with the optional Ekster solar tracking card that hypothetically makes them unlosable. Older versions of this card used the TrackR network, but the newest version, 3.0, is powered by Chipolo

The Ekster tracking card is one of the most powerful and useful features of this wallet. It allows you to locate your wallet in your house or anywhere in the world.

inserting Ekster solar card into Ekster Parliament
The Ekster solar tracker card is as thin as a couple of credit cards. Photo: Kim Stone

The card is amazingly thin, about the thickness of 2 credit cards. Ekster designed it to fit in the back pocket of the Parliament or the Senate. However, I found it too tight to get in and out of the Senate pocket.

So I place mine in between the pocket strap and the cardholder. There is enough tension on the strap that it holds it in place. I usually keep a spare $10 or $20 bill hidden in the back pocket of my Senate rather than under the money strap.

You can place the Ekster tracking card in the back pocket (it’s a tight fit). Photo: Kim Stone
My preferred method is to place the Ekster tracking card in between the pocket flap and the cardholder. Photo: Kim Stone

Make any wallet trackable with the Ekster Solar Tracker card

You can also buy the Ekster Solar Wallet Tracker card separately and turn any wallet into an anti-lose wallet. But it will only function properly if that wallet is not RFID protected.

It works fine with the Ekster wallets because the RFID protection is only within the aluminum cardholder. The tracker card is stowed outside this cardholder, so it works perfectly. Most RFID wallets have a similar exterior pocket that is outside the RFID-protected zone.

With the Chipolo app loaded on your smartphone, the solar-powered tracking card connects with your phone with a Bluetooth connection. It uses Bluetooth 4.0, so your phone and wallet have to be within 200 feet of each other for them to pair up. 

ekster wallet and tracking card plus phone. Wallet that are hard to lose.
Photo: Kim Stone

The Ekster tracking card is a Bluetooth tracker, not a GPS tracker

It’s your phone that has the GPS tracking ability, not your tracking card. The same goes for other trackers, such as the AirTag, Tile, and Chipolo Bluetooth trackers.

As long as your phone and tracker card are paired with Bluetooth, you will see the realtime position of your wallet in the Chipolo app on your phone. Chipolo uses Apple maps on an iPhone to show your wallet’s position.

If you misplace your wallet while you’re in range, you can ask the Chipolo app to ring your wallet. The tracking card in your wallet will immediately play a ring tone. You can customize this ring tone with one of 6 other choices inside the Chipolo app.

Ekster solar tracking card
The Ekster Solar-powered tracking card.

You can recharge the card from just about any light source. It doesn’t have to be the sun. The engineers at Ekster designed the card to use the ambient light in your kitchen or office. Just 3 hours of charging will give the card a 2- month charge.

Solar engineering in this card is so advanced that companies like FedEx and DHL are licensing the technology. And the best thing? No batteries to replace. Ever.

Voice activation

The Ekster Solar-powered wallet tracker card also has a very cool option to use voice activation to let Siri, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant ring your wallet. To use Siri on your iPhone, use the Customize screen in the Chipolo app. Add the command to Ring Wallet and Stop Ringing wallet.

Screenshot of Chipolo app Add Siri

To set up the skill for Amazon Alexa to ring your wallet, you have to use the Amazon Alexa app.

For Google Assistant, set that up on your Android phone.

The ringtone alert sound is not ear piercingly loud by any means. In fact, I wish it were a lot louder. I measured the sound level at 56 decibels while standing and arm’s length away. But it’s loud enough that you should be able to follow the sound to the kitchen counter or the bathroom or wherever you left your wallet.

The actual ringtone is considerably louder than what you hear in this video.

You can also do the reverse and double click the solar tracking card to ring your phone. If your phone is within Bluetooth range, it will play a much louder alert sound.

The cool thing is that your phone will play the sound even if the ringer is on silent. I use this feature ALL the time to find my phone.

How to find your lost wallet with the Ekster Solar-powered Wallet Tracker card

If you discover that you’ve left your wallet somewhere miles and miles away, you’re not SOL. The Ekster Solar Tracking card and the Chipolo network that powers it can help you find it. You can read more about how to do this on Chipolo’s FAQ page

Here’s a quick synopsis of how to find your lost wallet.  

1. The last known location of your wallet will appear on the map in the Chipolo app on your phone. Return to that location with your phone.

When you come within Bluetooth range of the lost wallet, the app will tell you that you’re connected. Press the green Ring to Find button and follow the tone to your wallet.

2. Enlist some friends to help. Ask them to download the Chipolo app and register for a free account. Share your Chipolo with your friends and you can all use your phones together to find your wallet using the steps in number 1 above.

3. Activate the crowd GPS feature called Community Search. Press the blue Mark As Lost button in the app and Chipolo will send an anonymous signal to everyone in the world who has the Chipolo app installed on their phones.

The more people who have the Chipolo app downloaded on their phones, the better your chance of someone finding your wallet. In other words, the bigger the network, the better. And the Chipolo network is getting bigger all the time.

When someone passes within Bluetooth range of your wallet, the Chipolo app on their phone will send the location (anonymously, without them knowing it) through the Chipolo network.

You will receive a notification of the wallet’s location on your phone and in your email from Chipolo that your wallet has been found. 

Ekster Parliament

Ekster Parliament wallet open
Ekster Parliament. Photo: Kim Stone

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Ekster Parliament wallet. Its design is a bit more refined than the Senate. To start, it’s a bifold wallet. Think of it as the same fundamental design as the Senate, but with an extra leaf of leather that folds over to cover the money band. 

The extra fold of leather has two slots for credit cards. On the back, a side access pocket will hold another few cards. But Ekster designed that pocket more specifically to hold the optional Ekster Solar-powered wallet tracker card.

The extra flap of leather gives some more heft to the wallet and gives it a more finished and formal appearance. Because the Parliament is a bifold wallet, the extra leather folds over the money band and hides it from view. 

This is a good feature for people who don’t like carrying cash that’s clearly visible under an exterior money clip or band.

If you really want to upgrade the cache of this wallet, you can opt for the Italian leather in the Vachetta collection. This special leather comes from a bull’s shoulder and is not treated with chemical protectors or moisturizing oils.

Ekster vachetta parliament

Ekster Vachetta Parliament with Italian leather.

The leather darkens over time as it is exposed to sunlight. Because the leather is naturally tanned, no two wallets will ever age in exactly the same way.

Quick summary

Both the Ekster Senate and Ekster Parliament make great front pocket carries. I find that the Senate feels slimmer and is more versatile, but it isn’t available in any of the upscale Italian leather upgrades like the Parliament.

The quick access card ejection system is the same in both wallets and it has worked flawlessly for me over the past 2 months. 

The Ekster Solar Tracker card really makes this wallet an anti-lose wallet. I ring my Ekster Senate from my phone more times than I’d like to admit. It’s well worth the discounted $29 price tag (when you purchase it at the same time as the wallet).

Which Ekster wallet should you buy?

Well, I can’t say enough good things about my Ekster Senate. But if you want a bifold style wallet with some extra capacity and a spiffier appearance, choose the Parliament. And if you want to take the leather quality up a notch, go for the Parliament from the Vachetta Collection.

All of the Ekster wallets have the same quick card access and RFID protection. Add the optional Ekster Solar Tracking Card and you’ll never lose your wallet again.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does Ekster wallet work?

Ekster wallets hold up to 6 cards in an RFID-protected aluminum case. Press the button on the bottom of the wallet and an internal mechanism pops-up your cards into a perfect fan. After you use your card, reinsert it and push all of the cards back into the case. The cards stay securely inside until you press the button.

Are Ekster wallets good?

The Ekster Senate is an ideal pop-up stye wallet because of its excellent leather, slim profile, and flawless card ejector system. The Ekster Parliament is a step up with the ability to hold more cards and cash inside. Both of these wallets are perfect front pocket carries and I would recommend them to anyone.

There are other wallets that are very similar in design to the Ekster minimalist pop-up cardholders. Check out this post about the Secrid wallet and others like it that manage your cards in much the same way as the Ekster.


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