The way a woman carries her money says a lot about her life. She may have a stack of receipts to claim on expenses. A credit card for collecting air miles. Building entry passes, an Oyster card, a driving license, and let’s not forget loyalty cards for coffee shops and nail bars.

But as we move towards an increasingly cashless society, is the coin pocket redundant? Do we even need a sleeve for bank notes? And aren’t most receipts digital now? How we organise this facet of our lives is important.

We tested a range of women’s wallets to find the best around, getting some very very strange looks in the process as we stuffed our own cards, receipts, loose change and even phones into the seemingly endless options in stores.

We worked to a strict criteria: would it survive being knocked about in a handbag? How many cards fit into each slot? Is the lining going to tear? Here are the carriers that made the cut.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Elvis & Kresse fire and hide purse: £130, Elvis & Kresse

Everything about this Elvis & Kresse purse is thoughtfully designed, from the hand-woven leather made from offcuts that would otherwise be discarded, to the decommissioned fire hose trim and reclaimed parachute silk lining. There are a mammoth 12 card slots, a zipped coin pocket and additional slots roomy enough to hold an iPhone. Plus 50 per cent of the brand’s profits go to charity.

Buy now

Comme des Garcons super fluorescent half-zip leather wallet: £70, Selfridges

This looks a little like one of those books of fluorescent Post-It notes, in a good way because Day-Glo hues are a major fashion story. This versatile little wallet from cult Japanese brand Comme des Garcons packs a punch both in colour and performance. The orange interior section is a simple and effective way to organise cards, cash and receipts, while the half zip keeps the shape sleek and the contents safe.

Buy now

Accessorize leopard leather wallet: £29, Accessorize

In our opinion, leopard is a neutral – it goes with almost everything, but especially black leather, the combination featured in this fold-out wallet from Accessorize. It’s perfect for those with a lot of kit to carry with eight card slots, two zipped pockets and two further slots for notes, receipts and other paper paraphernalia. It’s an affordable buy that will work as hard as you do.

Buy now

Arket leather card holder: £25, Arket

For those who prefer to travel light, or live a relatively cash-free life, a simple card holder is the perfect solution. Arket uses premium, naturally-tanned leather for this silver version, which has four card slots plus, critically, a central pocket for storing receipts, notes and the occasional coin.

Buy now

Anya Hindmarch patent leather wallet: £147, The Outnet

How cute is Anya Hindmarch’s winky face motif? It’s still a grown-up wallet though – the grande dame of handbags makes very good accessories and this roomy version has dedicated card slots and coin pockets, plus space for all the loyalty cards and other paraphernalia we accumulate. Typically they cost around £300, but this one is a relative bargain at 50 per cent off at The Outnet.

Buy now

Chloé colour-block leather card holder: £160, Net-a-Porter

Yes, this is technically a card holder, but we couldn’t resist: it is small but perfectly formed. The three complementary shades of leather and curved card slots make your essentials look like a work of art. The central pocket can be used for receipts and bills. It’s expensive but a hero piece that won’t date as quickly as more obvious designer buys.

Buy now

Mango flamingo print cardholder: £6.99, Mango

This is a great compromise between a card holder and a traditional wallet. The outer card pockets make bank cards and entry passes easy to tap, while the long zipped section can hold money and receipts. The flamingo print faux leather is fun without being twee, and the price makes it a total bargain.

Buy now

Uterque crocodile print wallet: £69, Uterque

Zara’s under-the-radar sister brand is a favourite with Spanish women for beautiful clothes and accessories that you won’t see on anyone else. This midi-size purse is an elegant greenish brown that looks rather expensive in croc-embossed leather. The cotton-lined interior opens like a book to reveal seven card slots, a zipped section and a compartment for notes.

Buy now

Herschel tyler wallet in ‘ash rose’: £25, Herschel

Herschel is about more than just backpacks. This small but mighty purse can accommodate plenty of cards even though there are just two inside slots, as well as coins and cash, plus it has an radio-frequency identification (RFID) blocking layer for those worried about data being skimmed from cards with the relevant chips. We love the contrasting striped lining and useful outer card sleeve too.

Buy now

Bellroy pocket: £65, Bellroy

The simple moniker of Bellroy’s mid-size purse belies its clever design. The central divider floats so you can arrange the interior in a way that suits you, plus it can even fit a small iPhone. The leather is of beautiful quality and the sunny lemon yellow is a colour that makes us smile, plus it comes with a three-year warranty.

Buy now

The verdict: Women’s wallets and purses

Ironically, you get what you pay for with wallets. There’s no reason not to go for a budget buy that suits your style and needs, but the more high-end pieces tend to be more intelligently designed and better made. Elvis & Kresse’s roomy wallet ticked all the boxes in terms of style, craftsmanship, sustainability and values, and for that reason it’s our winner.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.