Ekster Wallet Review
The Parliament is a perfect bifold cardholder wallet for someone who wants fine leather and a built-in aluminum cardholder that ejects up to 6 cards with the click of a button. It also holds cash and has a dedicated place for a Bluetooth tracking card, so you can track this wallet anywhere.
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Ekster calls the Parliament their flagship wallet because it’s the minimalist wallet that started it all. The Parliament hit the market in 2017, followed quickly by the more minimalist Ekster Senate cardholder.
Today, with four Ekster Parliament variations (five counting the AirTag Wallet) competing for your attention, the original Parliament is now part of the “Classic Collection.”
Ekster has built its reputation with these unique features:
- They developed a reliable card ejector mechanism for quick card access to your most used cards.
- They only use premium top-grain leather that’s environmentally certified Ecco Dritan leather.
Design and Materials
The Parliament has 4 variations to choose
The Ekster Parliament has four different variations (5 including the AirTag Wallet), mainly based on the type of leather.
They all use the exact same built-in aluminum case for your cards that pop-up with the card ejector mechanism. Just push the slider button at the bottom of the wallet and up to six cards pop-up into a perfect fan every time.
All of the Parliament variations hold the same number of cards in two additional card slots inside the front flap. All together, it will hold up to 10.
- The Classic Parliament uses ECCO leather from environmentally certified tanneries.
- The Vachetta Parliament cranks it up a notch with vegetable-tanned leather from Tuscany.
- The Recycled (Vegan) Parliament uses a vegan leather made from PVB, a component recovered from recycled car windshields.
- Fortuna Parliament uses ECCO leather but it is hand stitched and treated with a wax that encourages the leather to age gracefully.
- The AirTag Wallet is an updated version of the Classic Parliament with the same ECCO leather, but modified to carry an Apple AirTag.
With a total of 10 different colors to choose from, the Classic Parliament has the best opportunities for customization. The Vachetta comes in 4 different colors, the Fortuna has 3, Recycled 4, and the AirTag wallet only has two.
First of all, Ekster wallets are designed in Holland, but made in China. I’m not making a judgement here, just stating a fact.
The Classic Parliament is the first of the breed and the classic design on which Ekster has built its reputation. After several crowdfunding Kickstarter campaigns, Ekster introduced it as a brand new wallet design in 2017.
The Parliament went through several iterations of design improvements in the first few years, mainly focused on perfecting the card ejection system. In 2019, Ekster released the Parliament 3.0 that we know and love today.
An aircraft aluminum card protector
A solid anodized aluminum box holds up to 6 cards with an integrated card ejection mechanism and gives you quick card access at the push of button.
The card ejector is wrapped in leather with an elastic cash strap wrapped around it for holding cash, business cards, or receipts. A square piece of leather monogrammed with the Ekster logo and sewn into the elastic gives it an executive look.
Because it’s a bi-fold wallet, I think it has the look of more traditional wallets with a more formal feel. Kind of dressy, in fact. The stitching is precise and the overall feeling of the wallet is upscale.
The Classic Parliament has 10 different colors of ECCO leather to choose from. Two of these color variations are made from Napa leather, a super soft leather often used in luxury car interiors.
The wallet is a little longer and wider than some other cardholders because of the card ejector mechanism. However, I can still carry it in the same pocket as my phone inside my skinny jeans without them overlapping each other.
Limited Edition Vachetta Parliament
The Vachetta Parliament is a limited edition upgrade to the Classic Parliament. Rather than chrome tanning, it uses vegetable-tanned Italian leather from Tuscany.
Ekster says that the Vachetta is made from ECCO Italian leather, but to my knowledge, there are no ECCO tanneries in Italy. So this is confusing.
Just as you’d expect from veg-tanned leather, the Vachetta has a delicious leather fragrance to prove it. When I opened the box, I was just about knocked off my feet by the characteristic smell of this kind of leather.
Limited Edition Fortuna Parliament
The Fortuna is another limited edition Parliament that is made from hand-stitched ECCO full-grain leather with a wax that is supposed to enhance the way the leather ages over time. All other Parliaments are made from top-grain leather.
Out of the box, the leather is really shiny, more so than any of the other Parliaments. That’s probably because of the wax.
It also has gold accents on the front logo and the inside “Ekster” logo. It is by far the most expensive of all the Parliament wallet. The fact that Ekster uses hand stiching rather than machine stitched is probably how they justify the price.
Personally, I prefer the Vachetta over the Fortuna, even though the Fortuna has a much higher price tag.
Limited Edition Recycled Collection
If you want to avoid tanned cowhide for your Parliament, Ekster offers a vegan alternative made from PVB, a component recovered from recycled car windshields. To my eyes, it looks exactly the same as the real-leather versions.
It has all the functionality of the Parliament without any cows paying the ultimate price. And the vegan leather recycles an existing resource, rather than creating new polyurethane (the chemical that most vegan wallets are made from).
Ekster AirTag Wallet
The Ekster AirTag wallet isn’t billed as one of the Parliament wallets, but it really should be. It has the exact same design as the Parliament, except Ekster sewed a pouch into the back flap to hold an Apple AirTag.
Introduced in May 2022, it’s one of the newest Ekster wallets. It has a limited color selection, with only two to choose from: Nappa black and Classic brown.
You might think that the AirTag would increase the thickness of the wallet, but for me, it’s barely noticeable in my pocket.
My favorite part is that the addition of the AirTag doesn’t affect any of the functionality of the Parliament wallet that it’s based on. In fact, you can still slip a card behind the AirTag, so the 12 card capacity isn’t affected, either. Everything inside remains exactly the same.
Ekster also makes an all-aluminum AirTag wallet. Check out this post: Ekster AirTag Cardholder – Slim Design, Easy Access, Trackable.
Super reliable and smooth pop-up ejector
Like all Ekster wallets, including the Senate, Aluminum Cardholder, and Carbon Fiber Cardholder, the Parliament has the built-in Ekster pop-up card ejector at its core.
The card ejector holds a total of 6 cards (4 – 5 if they’re embossed) in a rigid aluminum case that protects them from bending/breaking and provides RFID blocking protection.
A slider button at the bottom ejects them reliably into a fan so you can choose the card you want. I have been using my Classic Parliament for about 3 years and the ejector mechanism is still as smooth as silk.
Since 2017, Ekster went through several generations of improvements of their pop-up design mechanism. In mid 2019, they released the Parliament 3.0 that perfected the card ejector.
It’s my favorite of ANY card ejector I’ve tested. And I’ve tested plenty.
Check this article: 8 Best Card Ejector Wallets: “Pop-up” Goes the Weasel. Also this YouTube video: Card Ejector Wallets Pop-up Your Cards Like a Switchblade
Premium quality ECCO leather
During the early years, Ekster advertised their leather as environmentally certified from LWG Gold-rated tanneries, but they never really discussed the leather in any great detail.
They only say that their hides came from bulls because female cows have stretch marks. Hmmm…
In October 2020, Ekster switched to using “Premium American hides by ECCO” as their sole source of leather. Yes, ECCO is the same company known for their shoes.
This top-grain, chrome-tanned leather is made in LWG Silver-rated tanneries with a tanning process called Dri-Tan that uses less chromium and considerably less water in the tanning process.
ECCO has tanneries in Indonesia, Thailand, China, and the Netherlands. But according to the ECCO website, only the Netherlands tannery uses Dri-Tan technology, so the ECCO leather probably comes from there.
“DriTan™ saves 20 litres of water per hide equal to 25 million litres of water saved annually — enough water to keep 9.000 people hydrated for one year. And is saving 600 tons of sludge that go to landfills per year.”ECCOleather.com
My question is: how do American hides get to overseas tanneries without the raw hides spoiling on the way there?
The Ekster Parliament is a bifold wallet with room for 12 credit cards, gift cards, or whatever cards according to Ekster. The ejector case holds 6. There are two vertical card slots that will each 2 cards and a slot in the back of the wallet for another 2.
That’s a total of 12 cards, but I prefer to just carry one per card slot rather than 2. With just 9 or 10 cards, the Parliament feels more sensible and light. Not to mention, the wallet stays thinner if you don’t try to max it out.
An elastic band in front of the aluminum case holds a few bills of cash folded over twice.
I like the fact that Ekster wrapped the aluminum case on 3 sides with leather. The leather covers the back of the case, too, , but it isn’t glued like the other 3 sides. This leaves a little hidden space for a key, guitar pick, or a coin or two.
Warning. Be careful, though. It’s not designed for this purpose. If you shove something in too far, it will require needle-nose pliers or other heroic efforts to remove it.
Make it trackable
The backside of the Parliament has a card slot where you can place an extra card, cash, or a wallet tracker. It’s the only card slot that isn’t RFID blocking, so this is a great place for your transit card.
For tracking, Ekster recommends their Ekster tracker card which solar powered and connects to your phone with Bluetooth. They’ll give you a price break if you buy it at the same time as the wallet. This also fits into the card slot on the back of the wallet.
The Ekster Bluetooth tracker is the only solar-powered tracker you can buy. In 2-3 hours of sun exposure, it will hold a charge for several months.
The best thing about it is you can locate your wallet from your smart phone using the Chipolo app or find your phone by pressing a button on the solar tracker.
The Chipolo app also works with Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant.
You can also use the Chipolo CARD One, Tile Slim, Orbit, or Innway wallet trackers to find your wallet. The thickness of each card varies slightly, but otherwise, they’re all the same size as a credit card.
The Ekster AirTag wallet uses the Apple AirTag to track it. The AirTag is a plump little bugger that really doesn’t fit well inside any wallet. That’s why Ekster sewed an AirTag pouch into the back flap of the Parliament.
Check out this out for more info: Best Bluetooth GPS Wallet Trackers: I Tested 8 of Them
How to use it
Pop-up card ejector
The heart and soul of Ekster wallets is the smooth and reliable pop-up card ejector mechanism. The slider button is so effortless to use you can even use your pinky finger to eject your cards.
Most credit card holders require one hand to hold the wallet and the other to pull, push, and spread out your cards for access.
With the Ekster card slider system, you just need one hand and a gently squeeze with your finger to eject all six of your cards display into a perfect fan.
I’ve found that I like to put my most frequently used card either in the front or the back of the stack for easier access.
Ekster has really perfected the ejector mechanism over the years to balance ease of access with the importance of the cards not falling out. No matter how hard you shake the wallet upside down (within reason), the cards stay in the case.
It works so well because one side of the aluminum case has dozens of rubbery friction nubs that grip one edge of the cards. Not so hard that the cards don’t eject, but just enough so they won’t shake out on their own.
And the cards won’t go flying out when you squeeze the trigger either, even if you have muscular fingers. Ekster has really perfected the card ejector so that the tolerances are right in the “Goldilocks zone.”
Don’t overload it with cards
This might seem like a no-brainer, but the more cards you try to cram into any wallet, the thicker it will get. With the Parliament’s bifold design, interior card slots, and money band, you can easily put more in it than it will comfortably hold.
For instance, I found that when I place 4 cards inside the two inner card slots (two in each slot) inside the front flap, the Parliament won’t close completely. And it gets worse if you place anything under the cash strap.
The problem is the cards push up against the aluminum case near the leather hinge and hold it open. It closes much better with just 2 cards inside.
Even though Ekster considers the Parliament to have a 12 card capacity, I would definitely limit the cards to 9 or 10 max.
It works best with plastic cards
One important item I should mention is that the ejection mechanism doesn’t like paper cards like membership cards and medical cards. Because paper isn’t as smooth as plastic, the cards often pop-up erratically or get stuck.
Ekster warns you right up front in their description that paper cards can “hang up” when ejected. The same goes for metal cards (like the Apple Card).
It’s a front pocket wallet
Despite the fact that the Parliament is a little wider and longer than other minimalist cardholder wallets, it’s still a comfortable fit inside my pocket next to my phone.
I don’t know how other people do it, but the left front pocket of my pants is where I keep my phone and my wallet. That means they both need to ride comfortably next to each other, not on top of each other. And they do.
I also really like the the fact that my phone sits next to the soft leather of the Parliament and not against the harsher “reality” of an all metal cardholder wallet that could potentially scratch my expensive iPhone.
Should you buy it?
I you’re looking for a bifold cardholder wallet with some grace and style, you really can’t go wrong with the Ekster Parliament. It takes up very little space in your pocket or purse, and carries more cards that you’ll ever really need.
Best of all, it flawlessly pops up 6 cards into a perfect fan every single time.
This is what I like:
- Beautiful, high quality leather
- Super efficient and well-designed card ejector. It’s honestly the best.
- Hold up to 12 cards (but better with 10) and a few bills of cash.
- Available in several different leather upgrades, including vegan (faux) recycled leather.
- RFID protection, except the rear pocket that holds a transit pass, gym pass, or Bluetooth wallet tracker.
What I wish they’d do better:
- Wallet doesn’t close completely when carrying 4 cards inside.
- It’s a little wider and longer than many other minimalist cardholder wallets.
- The descriptions of their leather and leather sources on their website is somewhat contradictory and needs improvement.