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Custom Phone Wallets and Card Holders:
Everything You Need to Know

updated: October 31, 2023

Smartphones are an integral part of our everyday lives. We can use them to stay connected 24/7, browse social media, get work done or manage our finances.

With phone wallets, though, smartphones can become even more convenient. These handy products allow users to store their credit cards, ID cards and passes right on the back of their phone, and some double as power banks, phone grips or media stands.

It gets even better: When imprinted with your custom logo, promotional phone wallets offer an invaluable opportunity for you to raise brand awareness and gain exposure, all for an incredibly low cost.

So, what exactly are phone wallets, who invented them and which ones are right for you? Read on to find out everything you need to know.

What Is a Phone Wallet?

Also known as sticky wallets or stick-on phone wallets, phone wallets are pouches that stick to the back of a phone with the help of phone-safe adhesive. They hold all the same essentials you'd normally hold in a traditional wallet, including credit cards, insurance cards, cash, ID cards and more.

While it may seem self-explanatory, the term "phone wallet" can sometimes create confusion.

Much of that confusion stems from the fact that one definition refers to a smartphone app that stores credit card information and allows people to pay for items electronically. These apps are also known as digital wallets, with popular options including Google Pay and Apple Pay.

Person using their smartphone to pay with Google Pay at a retail store.

When we refer to phone wallets here, though, we're referring to a physical wallet that can be attached to the back of a smartphone.

Keep in mind that a phone wallet is not the same thing as a phone case. While a phone wallet is designed to hold cards and cash, a phone case is designed to protect your phone from falls, bumps and other damage (however, some phone cases include phone wallets).

There are also phone cases that double as folding wallets. These types of cases most closely resemble traditional wallets.

Finally, be careful not to confuse phone wallets with smart wallets, which are traditional wallets that are equipped with "smart" features such as built-in power banks, high-tech security and GPS trackers.

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Who Invented Phone Wallets?

The history of modern phone wallets can be traced back to the early 2010s when Sunder Jambunathan lost his wallet at an airport. The incident made him realize that while he never misplaced his phone, his wallet was a different story.

So, Sunder teamed up with his brother, Kumar, to design and patent the CardNinja, a flexible pocket that can be attached to the back of mobile devices. The CardNinja was released in 2012, and proved to be an instant success. They were named the promotional industry's top new product of 2014 at the Advertising Specialty Institute’s Shark Tank-style competition.

The inventors of the CardNinja accepting a check for $5,000 from Shark Tank investors.
Image source:

The promotional opportunities that phone wallets offered were immediately clear, and other companies were eager to customize them with their own logos.

A successful promotional product is an item that:

  • Will be incredibly useful to recipients.
  • Solves a problem that's never been solved before.
  • Is lightweight, travel-friendly and easy to ship.
  • Doesn't cost a fortune to make.
  • Will be seen by as many people as possible on a daily basis.

Phone wallets meet all of those criteria, making them an ingenious place for companies to show off their logo. Of course, CardNinja is not the only phone wallet on the market, and countless other phone wallets are available for companies to customize with their own branded message.

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Are Phone Wallets for Men?

Some men may wonder if phone wallets are meant for them to use or if they are designed with women in mind. The truth is that phone wallets are an ultra-practical choice for both men and women, and there are clear benefits for the men who use them.

For instance, active men will love the convenience of phone wallets when going to the gym, ski mountain or when participating in other outdoor events. Frequent travelers will also appreciate being able to store an ID, credit card and hotel keycard in one handy place.

Add a familiar brand logo to a phone wallet (such as that of an outdoor company, brewery or men's lifestyle brand), and men will be even more likely to use them.

Remember that modern phone wallets were invented by two men who wanted a pragmatic solution to a real-life problem. If that doesn't prove that phone wallets are suitable for all types of people regardless of gender, we don't know what does.

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What Are the Different Phone Wallet and Card Holder Types?

If you're looking for your own promotional phone wallets, then you already know that there are plenty of types to choose from.

All types of phone wallets and card holders have their own set of advantages. Below, we'll outline the benefits of each.

1. Basic One to Two-Pocket Phone Wallets

Basic one to two-pocket phone wallets are a fantastic choice if you're looking for an option that's simple, inexpensive and equipped with a large imprint area.

Our customers love the Silicone Tech Pocket, a streamlined single-pocket phone wallet that's available in a range of bold colors:

Single-pocket silicone phone wallets in blue, black, green, red and yellow, all with white logos.

2. Folding Closure Phone Wallets

Phone wallets with folding closures have a multitude of benefits: They're secure, can double as a phone stand and have room for more cards than their one or two-pocket counterparts.

We're big fans of the bifold Cinch Phone Wallet, which is crafted from UltraHyde PVC leather and features a slim profile:

Black phone wallet with white logo acting as a stand for a iPhone.

The Cinch Phone Wallet - Trifold is another folding option that features three card pockets and extra stability when used as a phone stand.

Navy blue phone wallet with green logo acting as a stand for a black smartphone.

3. Phone Wallets With Stands

Phone wallets with stands are especially convenient thanks to their ability to allow recipients to prop up their phones on almost any surface for easy on-the-go use.

One of our favorites is the elegant Tuscany™ Phone Pocket, which features an attached ring that serves as a stand as well as a phone grip:

Dark blue leather-like phone wallet with silver ring grip and debossed logo.

Also be sure to check out the Silicone Phone Wallet With Metal Ring Stand, which features a similar design crafted from lightweight silicone:

Blue silicone phone wallet with white logo and silver ring grip.

4. RFID-Blocking Phone Wallets

RFID-blocking phone wallets are particularly popular with security-savvy users. That's because their RFID-blocking technology prevents thieves from stealing sensitive credit card information via RFID skimming.

The Cardsafe Cork Cell Phone Wallet RFID Blocker is an eco-friendly option made of renewable cork

Cardsafe Cork Cell Phone Wallet RFID Blocker

We're also fond of the Leeman™ RFID Phone Pocket, which features high-quality leatherette materials and a rotating metal ring stand:

Red leather-like phone pocket with debossed logo and silver ring grip.

5. Hands-Free Phone Wallets

Looking for a phone wallet to distribute at a trade show, conference or other big event? You can't go wrong with hands-free phone wallets.

The Hands-Free Phone Holder has a detachable lanyard for extra versatility:

Blue silicone phone wallet with yellow logo and matching lanyard attached to the back of a silver iPhone.

What Are the Different Types of Phone Wallet Materials?

It's also important to consider the type of material you want your promotional phone wallets to be made of. There are two common materials you'll be able to choose from, each of which has its perks.

1. Silicone Phone Wallets

Silicone phone wallets are beloved by our customers because they're:

  • Low-cost.
  • Waterproof.
  • Slip-resistant.
  • Able to hug cards and keep them secure.

2. Leather and Leather-Look Phone Wallets

Leather and leather-look phone wallets can be an excellent choice because they create a sophisticated and professional look.

However, they're also slightly more expensive than their silicone counterparts, which is worth considering when making your decision.

One of our favorites is the unique Custom Tuscany™ Magnetic Card Holder Phone Stand, which is made of beautiful faux leather and doubles as a phone stand:

Brown leather-like phone wallet with white logo and steel money clip.

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Popular Phone Wallet Brands


Created by the tech accessory giant PopSockets®, PopWallet phone wallets are highly sought-after.

The PopWallet+ is a foolproof choice that features a reusable adhesive backing:

Black silicone phone wallet with included phone grip and white logo.

We also love the PopWallet+ Lite, which pairs the benefits of a silicone phone wallet with the ever-popular PopSockets phone grips.

Black silicone phone wallet with white phone grip and black logo.

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What's Next for Custom Phone Wallets?

Is it possible for phone wallets to get any more innovative and convenient? Absolutely!

Before, shoppers would have to choose between a phone wallet, a phone grip and a phone stand. Now, as we've already shown in some of the earlier examples, you can have all three in one handy product.

Two of our favorite phone wallet/phone grip/phone stand options are the functional PopWallet+ and streamlined PopWallet+ Lite, pictured above.

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Need more ideas to help you choose the perfect promotional tech accessories?

Or, browse our extensive selection of other gift-worthy tech accessories: