One Credit Card To Rule Them All? Meet Coin.
For those of us who tote around a Mary Poppins-esque bag, stuffed to the brim with a change of shoes, makeup, gym clothes, etc.—the idea of paring down is a romantic one. Spring cleaning, and all that.
Coin wants to help. With their all-in-one spending card, they’re hoping to cash in on the assumption that a slimmer wallet is a sexier wallet. It works something like this: Coin holds all your cards—debit, credit, membership, and gift cards—together in one easy place. You can upload the card information using a small gadget and the Coin app. The physical card is inscribed with the owner’s name and swipes like a normal card. A little screen on the front identifies which account you’re paying with; it shows the card’s last four digits, expiration date, and CVC code. As an added bonus, the card is linked to your smart phone and you’ll receive a notification if the card gets left behind. No more leaving credit cards at the bar.
All this, ladies and ladies, for the low, low cost of $100 plus shipping.
If that seems like a hefty price tag (especially since the battery is only slated to run for two years), Coin is offering a limited number of cards for $50 plus $5 shipping. Here’s the catch: the product doesn’t exist quite yet. Sales now are for pre-orders, and the company plans to get the product out by summer 2014.
The startup “launched” their product in November of 2013, and the response was mixed. On the one hand, consumers bought into the idea, helping Coin achieve its fundraising goal of $50,000 worth of pre-orders in just 40 minutes, according to CNNMoney. On the other hand, there was a lot of backlash from the media, quick to point out potential flaws:
Since the card is linked to one’s phone, it won’t work if your phone is dead (CNNMoney)
None of the major credit card companies have endorsed it (CNNMoney)
The company has no plans to educate merchants, so some retailers might not accept or be confused by Coin (CNNMoney)
The company’s terms of service aren’t particularly warm and fuzzy. According to the New York Times, “name your worst fear: the device broadcasts your credit card numbers, it is hacked, the site containing your encrypted numbers is hacked, the numbers are improperly encrypted, merchants refuse it — it’s not Coin’s problem.” The terms also state that “You are solely responsible for your own losses or losses incurred by Coin and others due to any unauthorized use of your account.” Translation? If the card is lost, stolen, or damaged, you’re SOL.
The card isn’t compatible with the global EVP chip system, so it’s a no-go for all those Femme & Fortune fashionistas living or traveling abroad.
In reaction to all of the finger-pointing, Coin announced some new features (easy to do when the device doesn’t exist, yet). According to a follow-up article by CNNMoney, they’re going to implement a method to jumpstart the card, so it still works if your phone dies; add a feature that “locks in” your selected card, so a merchant doesn’t accidentally charge the wrong account; and include a feature that tells you how many times the card’s been swiped, and if it was used when it wasn’t near you (assumedly “near you” means near your phone, since the card’s connected to the phone, and the phone’s connected to the thigh bone. Or whatever). They’re also looking in to the EVP chip system, and plan to include the capability in future Coin releases.
So what’s F&F’s verdict? Hold out—for now. Though the idea is appealing, there are a lot of kinks, and it might be worth sitting this one out for a few months. Once the dust settles, however, Coin might be the perfect solution for those with several company rewards cards, or for small business owners balancing personal and company accounts. For now, perhaps the best way to slim down your wallet is to keep the credit and rewards cards to a minimum. Your credit score will thank you.