One Card to Replace Them All (in Your Wallet)

So I don’t think card issuers are going to like this, since they want their plastic in your wallet. Airlines and hotels want to generate loyalty from having their brand in your wallet.

But those of us who have wallets stuffed full of cards — I have 12 in my wallet now, more in a zipped pouch, and still more in a safe — could really benefit from this to reduce sheer bulk.

“Coin” is the size of a credit card. It’s electronic. And it ‘carries’ up to 8 cards and lets you toggle between them, so you can choose which one to pay with.

It doesn’t display the card number on a screen though so this won’t help you place online orders. But you won’t need to carry all of your cards when you’re out and about whether you’re trying to meet a minimum spend requirement or want to be sure you have the right card to take advantage of a category bonus.

You can add an unlimited number of your credit cards to their mobile app, and the ‘coin’ card itself can store up to 8 cards at a time. You add the cards to the app via your smart phone and a card reader that you attach. Then you can flip through the cards you load onto your ‘coin’ card — credit cards, debit cards, gift cards — and choose which one you want to pay with.

I pre-ordered one ($50 + $5 shipping, extra ones don’t appear to increase shipping cost). They charge you now, do not take shipping details yet, and will not ship until summer. Supposedly they’re planning to increase price to $100.

It does not have an EMV chip which limits usefulness in some countries. And this isn’t like which claims to do the choosing of card for you to optimize rewards or credit or what have you. You do the choosing.

The app will be available for iOS and Android.

This is their promotional video that explains how it works.

My spidey sense is tingling a bit, I think this is very cool but I have a feeling that if it comes to fruition that there will be lawsuits over it. I hope not though.

Hat tip to Online Travel Review, I used his referral link so he’ll get $5 because of my order. Coin gives you $5 per person who uses your link, but caps you at 10 referrals ($50, or a free coin excluding shipping at current pricing).

Use my link, or don’t, feel free to leave your own in the comments.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I think there is no way this would be allowed to go ahead, once the banks get wind of it. Technically, merchants certify that they check the front of the card that it matches what swiped, AND that the signature matches. That would be impossible with this card. Also, it has no way of doing chip+sig, which will mean traveling with it will be next to impossible, and lastly when the battery runs out you need to replace the ENTIRE unit. This means you need to carry cards with you anyhow just in case. Banks want wallet share, and just like telephone companies, they wont let their product become a commodity without a HUGE legal fight.

  2. Thanks for sharing the idea – but you’re missing a BIG consumer alert here, esp when you have a referral link going on.

    They are charging you $50 immediately for something that may or may not ship in Summer 2014.

    Good luck disputing that charge if they don’t fulfill or get sued away.

    Kind of crossing the line here using a referral link for this one as many ways people could lose out.

  3. Thanks Gary! I used your referral link. Here’s mine if someone wishes to use it and you are past your 10!

  4. Why do they charge us in the first place. I’d rather they have an ad on the card itself or charge the vendors.

  5. Seems like a clever concept but I will have to be convinced further. I go to a restaurant and hand them my coin to pay the bill. They take it and walk away, over to the register…

    1. What prevents the waiter or waitress (let’s assume they also have coin and are familiar with it) from PURPOSELY toggling to another stored card? Anything? I know this sounds stupid and unlikely but is it possible? (Imagine that I’ve given the waitress a hard time and now she just wants to “mess” with me).

    2. What prevents the waiter or waitress from putting the correct charge on the credit card that I select, and then after that – toggling to another card and adding an additional fraudulent charge? Anything to prevent this?

    Wish I could have been convinced to order one. But I’m not, at least for now.

  6. Thanks, Gary, for a very interesting read.

    It’s a great concept and is very practical. I’ve always wanted one device to handle multiple cards. Still, I won’t shell out $50 just yet. Summer 2014 is far off. A lot could happen before then. Also, buying a new device every 2 years sucks. It’s basically like a $50 annual fee. Still, the concept is great and much better than

    @ Joel: Looking through Coin’s Website, it seems you need to photograph the front and back of the card before swiping it into Coin. I’m thinking that photo appears somewhere on the device so merchants can visually inspect. Otherwise, you are right about the signature.

  7. $50 for this is insane. if it was $5… maybe. most likely you’ll get tons of ads on their app, so the price is overblown.

  8. I was THIS close to preordering it until I saw that it would only last two years. I think that’s a very important point that you should mention in your post (and so should they, at some place other than buried in the FAQs)

  9. @Nick — What’s to prevent a dishonest waiter from adding fraudulent charges to a physical card? Whether Coin or old-fashioned plastic, dishonest waiters are unlikely to get away with anything anyway, provided the cardholder notices the excess charges on his statement. As for the waiter intentionally toggling cards, why would they bother? I haven’t read too much into Coin, but I understand it requires a near constant Bluetooth connection with your smartphone. Perhaps toggling is disabled once out of range?

    @Lantean — $5? Really? You do realize it’s an electronic device that communicates with your smartphone via Bluetooth? The $50 early-adopter price seems perfectly reasonable, though the regular $100 price strikes me as a bit high, especially since Coin is essentially disposable.

    @J.C. — I don’t believe there are any screens but the rudimentary seven-segment LCD visible in the video. That LCD certainly wouldn’t be able to display card images, and I’m not sure what purpose a picture would serve, anyway. I assume the accompanying smartphone app would be able to display images, but again, to what purpose?

    @Gary — I think Coin is a cool idea, but I don’t think it will succeed. Potential lawsuits aside, I just don’t see many merchants accepting for payment something that looks like a skimming device. Cashiers are already thrown off by unusual cards like the metallic Chase Sapphire.

    Services like Google Wallet will eventually render physical wallets, cards, and Coins obsolete.

  10. Sounds just the ticket. All the pooh poohing gets tiresome. I’ve got 30 cards rolling around. Carry a dozen with me – a PITA.

    Security issues will have to be ironed out, otherwise this is DOA. I’ll give em $50 now just to get them started.

  11. @Greg I am not ‘missing’ that they charge you now and promise to ship later, I kinda note that in the piece, and I don’t think a $5 referral link capped at $50 where I give you my referral link, give you a link next to it with no referral attached, and tell readers to toss their own in if they like is particularly meaningful or influencing.

  12. Coin looks just like another card I wrote about several months ago called Echo with a very similar post title: A new card to rule them all.
    Whereas the Echo team has been struggling to get enough startup money from investors, it looks like the Coin team has wisely found a way to get funding by pre-selling their card, and free advertising through the $5 referral program.
    I think that buying in now is risky, so personally I’m going to wait.

  13. I think one obvious thing missing with this card is your name on the front of the Coin Card. How are you supposed to make a large purchase if the cashier can’t verify your name with your drivers license? Anyone know how to fix that problem?

  14. @ Grant: They aren’t supposed to be asking for ID, are they?

    Still, seems like there are a lot of security issues. How do they compare signatures? How do they stop someone from obtaining a device and loading cards belonging to another?

  15. Love the idea and jumped on ordering one yesterday. $50 isn’t really much to get to play with some new tech. So here’s my link:

    Agree with some of the comments that there may be issues in the case of large purchases where vendors do actually want to name-check a card. But for day-to-day stuff, I can’t remember the last time anyone cared what I swiped.

  16. I understand the security concerns. Maybe Chase, AMEX, etc will make one that you can load their various branded cards to. Would be nice to have my AMEX Plat, Hilton, SPG and Costco card in one and choose which one to pay with.

  17. @Paul — The only way I can see Coin taking off is if one of the large issuing banks or payment processors buys the company out. Without industry backing, this thing is DOA.

  18. @ CoinFan: If their need is only $50k, I’d say the chances of nondelivery are much higher than slim. $50k isn’t really that much money for a start-up business. If the entrepreneurs can’t raise a measly $50k on their own, then I’d say they are not prime credit risks.

  19. I am also skeptical of the ability for this card to deliver. I know that Wallaby card is supposedly done and waiting on approval – and has been waiting for years. I don’t see how this would be magically launched sooner. It seems like the technology is not the issue here it’s the establishment already in place.

  20. How many times does a merchant want to see the credit card to verify the last four digits? Or the security code? Go the Post Office and buy some stamps. Our local Post Offices require that they see the signature on the back of the card.

    Too many issues for my taste.

  21. Back@Mark – What is being overlooked in your analysis of my hypothetical situation is that when we hand them one credit card “the old fashioned way” they simply can’t toggle. The toggle when the card is out of sight can happen (whether on purpose or not). After using “Coin” one would literally have to get online and check all of their CC accounts to see whether or not the clerk added fraudulent charges to some or all of your CC’s.

    Not for me. Sorry to take the wind out of the sails here. I also wrote an email to the company days ago about this issue – they have yet to respond. Poor customer service and they aren’t even started yet…

    Clever, but doesn’t cut the mustard, at least not for me.

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