True story: Americans are carrying around a LOT of cards these days. Credit cards for cash and travel rewards, debit cards for ATMs, and even loyalty cards for our favorite stores.
Ever see that episode of Seinfeld where Costanza’s wallet explodes in the street because he tries to shove one too many receipts in it? The struggle is real.
That struggle is exactly what an all-in-one credit card – also known as a smart credit card – is trying to solve. These cards allow you to consolidate all of your credit and debit cards into one (you’ll still have to carry around those coffee and sandwich shop punch cards).
But are they safe? Do they really add value? And are they worth the cost? Read on to find out.
What is an all-in-one credit card?
If you’ve never heard of an all-in-one credit card before, it’s okay. This technology is only a few years old and hasn’t quite made it to mainstream use yet. Even digital wallets like Apple and Google Pay aren’t there yet.
Essentially, it’s a programmable credit card that you can sync all of your other credit cards and debit cards with. Then you can simply carry that one card everywhere you go.
So who offers this technology? Well, Wocket is the only real main player right now.
Stratos was acquired by CardLab Innovations earlier this year and is no longer giving out new cards. What’s more, people who put pre-orders for Stratos cards before the acquisition never received their cards or refunds for them.
Swyp, another contender, is currently only adding people to an email waitlist and not issuing any new cards.
What are the pros of a smart credit card?
1. You can carry just one card everywhere you go
If you get a smart credit card, you can add all of your other credit cards, debit cards, and even gift and loyalty cards to that one, enabling you to carry just one card to access them all. When you get your card in the mail, you’ll also receive a card reader which lets you easily swipe your cards to add them.
Each all-in-one credit card can sync a different number of cards. For instance, Wocket lets you add thousands.
2. They help you organize your finances
These all-in-one credit cards aren’t just convenient for your wallet, they’re also convenient for managing your finances. Each of these cards comes with an app to help you manage your cards.
3. They’re more secure
Smart credit cards can be more secure in a few ways:
- There is no visible account number on the card.
- The cards are password protected.
- The cards are encrypted, keeping your information programmed on them secure.
- If your smart credit card is connected to your smartphone and is out of range, it will automatically lock.
These four security measures make a stolen all-in-one credit card nearly unusable.
4. They make it easy to select the card you need
Depending on the card you choose, it’s pretty easy to select the credit, debit, gift, or loyalty card you need at the point of purchase. With Wocket, you select the card you want to use with a touch screen.
No matter which you choose, they all make it easy to quickly get to the card you need – so long as you remembered to add it to your account beforehand.
What are the cons of a smart credit card?
1. Most of them don’t yet come with chip and pin technology
These cards may not come emblazoned with account numbers, but they also don’t yet come with chip and pin technology. This is a technology that’s being introduced to protect consumers from the rash of data breaches that have been going on for years.
However, recent findings on chip and pin technology might make this con irrelevant, as some are claiming that chip and pin readers actually increase instances of fraud.
2. Their convenience comes at a cost
There are several companies making all-in-one credit cards these days, so the features and costs vary. You can get an all-in-one credit card for anywhere from $49-$179.
So why pay so much for something like this, especially considering regular credit and debit cards are free? Credit card security and physical and financial convenience are the main drivers of the value.
3. You may have to wait to get one
Each all-in-one credit card comes with a slightly different price, experience, and list of features. And if you find one that looks perfect for you, you might have to wait for it.
Wocket is available right away (and the most expensive card at $179 since it’s a mobile wallet, not just a card).
4. You may need a smartphone to go with your smart credit card
Many of these smart credit cards require you to have a smartphone to program them and use their app. Wocket is one that doesn’t require that, but, again, its cost is high.
Will a programmable credit card work for you
If you’re trying to decide whether or not an all-in-one credit card might work for you, think about what’s most important to you.
In 2014, the average American using credit cards had more than three – not counting debit cards, gift cards, and loyalty cards. If that sounds like you (and you’re tired of carrying them all around), then a programmable credit card could be a good investment for you.
Do you like the idea of being able to track all of your financial accounts in one place? The same answer applies. Worried about security? These all-in-one credit cards do offer protections that regular credit and debit cards don’t have.
But if you don’t have the money to spare – you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck or are working to pay off debt – then these smart credit cards may be too expensive for your needs right now.
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