Wallets have always been an easy way to show off fashion sense and number of credit cards (or lack thereof). However, wallets themselves are increasingly important multi-functional accessories. As wallets are developed that fulfill a variety of needs and even incorporate useful technologies, and as the holidays approach, they can make unique and personalized gift ideas.

For example, there are wallets out there that are designed to foil identity thieves, adhere to the back of a cell phone, or even hide behind a seemingly normal belt buckle! There are even wallets in development that can communicate information to your cell phone or that get harder to open the more you spend. These days, your choice of wallet has greatly expanded beyond bi-fold or tri-fold.

The RFID-blocking wallet

RFID blocking wallet

Radio frequency identification, or RFID, is used to store and read data from a distance. For example, many pet owners have microchips that use RFID technology implanted in their dogs or cats. If the animal is lost, whoever finds it can take it to a vet. The vet scans the microchip for the owner's contact information, and returns the pet.

RFID tags are increasingly being used on cards, electronic passkeys, and types of identification. Anyone with the appropriate reader can scan these chips. They can then use the information they find for purposes more sinister than returning your kitty to its rightful home -- say, stealing your identity.

RFID-blocking wallets, such as those sold at DIFRwear.com, serve as a shield that prevents cards from being scanned while they are in your wallet. It's a great gift for someone who carries multiple forms of identification, or who works or lives in a building that uses electronic passkeys. Many RFID-blocking wallets are indistinguishable from ordinary wallets, so their true purpose is inconspicuous.

The cell phone wallet

CardNinja cell phone wallet

Maybe you or someone you love is a wallet minimalist (or should be). Do you really need to carry around a fat wallet stuffed with library cards, coffee house punch cards, frequent shopper cards and credit cards you don't even use? If you only want to carry what you need, then a cell phone "wallet" like the CardNinja might be the perfect choice.

These wallets attach securely to the back of your cell phone using adhesive, but they can be removed without damaging your phone or its case. Almost no one goes anywhere without their cell phone. This wallet is the perfect choice for people who want to minimize what they carry without worrying about IDs or cards falling out of his or her pockets.

Even if you can't imagine going out without every possible contingency card on you, the cell phone wallet may still be useful for keeping the cards you use the most in one central location. And since your favorite rewards credit card will be stored in a pocket attached to the back of your phone anyway, there's no excuse for not opening up your favorite budget-tracking app and logging that cappuccino.

The belt buckle wallet

Belt Buckle Credit Card Wallet

Maybe you're more of the footloose and fancy-free type and don't want anything in your pockets at all. Perhaps other things are more important to you, like making a fashion statement or showing support for your favorite NFL team. If this sounds like you (or a loved one), then the belt buckle wallet may be right up your alley.

The belt buckle wallet, such as those offered at BeltBuckleWallet.com, functions just like a regular belt buckle, but you can tuck away up to three credit cards or ID cards behind the buckle. These wallets also keep your property safe because not only is the belt secure under your belt loops, no one will ever suspect that the buckle is a wallet!

You can keep the belt buckle plain and simple, or have it engraved with your initials, favorite image, or even your alma mater's mascot. The belts themselves range from your classic black leather to more daring options that are studded or embossed. Whatever your fashion sense, there's a belt buckle wallet for you!

High-tech wallets in development

While you may not have ever considered the state of wallet technology, know that it's not stagnant. There are various companies out there developing true "smart wallets" that link to your cell phone. You'll be able to track down your wallet if you lose it or if it's stolen.

The tracking app will tell you anytime the wallet is opened and where, and even let you know what credit card was used. If you're trying to cut back on spending, you could have this information emailed to a friend or your spouse to provide accountability. Or you could use a smart wallet to track your teenager's spending. The possibilities are endless!

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