I know not everyone has a problem with carrying 10+ credit cards in their wallet, and that's probably a good thing. But if you are like me and collect cash back credit cards that reward you for different types of purchases, your wallet can bulk up real quick. Well, there are several companies racing to create a more secure, digital credit card that can store all your normal credit cards, gift cards, and reward cards in memory. When a specific card is required, just swipe or tap a few buttons to retrieve the one needed. All this in a package the size of a normal credit card of course.
Perhaps one of the best features of all of these digital cards is they lock when they are out of range of your phone for a specified amount of time. This conveniently prevents thieves from being able to use the card if it ever gets stolen.
These new digital cards might be a more viable alternative for those that don't want to tap their phones to pay. Not that this is a bad way to pay, in fact I'll slightly touch on the two main competitors of this type of payment (Apple Pay and Google Wallet) at the end of this post.
TLDR; Comparison Table
Plastc is one of my favorites in the digital credit card realm. It will support all the latest card technologies like the standard magnetic stripe, NFC (Near Field Communication), and EMV (Europay Mastercard Visa, A.K.A. chip card, Chip-and-PIN). It communicates with your phone to transfer information via Bluetooth. It touts a touch screen for selecting cards and displaying your security image and signature. With the companion app (for iOS and Android) your current balance and available credit will show right on the card. It comes with a wireless charger and an EMV reader for transferring these types of cards into the plastc card.
I'd say it's only pitfall, which isn't really that much of a pitfall at all, is that it's battery life lasts about a month according to their website. The only reason I list this at all is that some of the other digital cards claim to have a 1-2 year battery life.
If you'd like to save $20 on this card and earn me a $20 Amazon gift card, use my share link: https://share.plastc.com/x/BTk2D9. This card retails for a hefty $155.
Next up is Swyp. Similar to Plastc, but missing a few things. For starters it does not have NFC, although they plan to include this technology in their next iteration. Swyp also doesn't have a touch screen, instead it uses arrow keys and a select button.
This card does have a winning point for people who don't want to charge it every 30 days. The battery life is claimed to last 1 year with normal use.
The cost of this card is $99 as of this writing.
So the Stratos card uses a bit of a different strategy to keep it's cash flow coming in. While most of the other cards have a pay once, use until the card wears out policy, Stratos is a subscription based service that costs $95/year. This can be looked at as a good thing since they promise to keep you up to date with their latest developed card.
Stratos also relies heavily on a phone storing most of the information. With a tap, tap of the card it loads a list of cards in an app on your phone. Select the card you want and slide it at the terminal. It allows you to use the 3 most used cards when not connected to your phone, but it definitely can't match up with the other cards in it's current state.
This card has some downs sides until it receives the promised upgrades, which are the lack of any type of display other than a few LED lights and no EMV or NFC to boot.
The Coin has a screen, a simple button to select cards, and a battery life of 2 years. This card apparently only supports magnetic stripe for now, although they may iterate a new card in the future that has additional support.
Since this bad boy isn't rechargeable you'll be looking at replacing it within about 2 years.
The Coin will cost you about $100.
*Just found out recently that Wallaby has given up on the idea and partnered with Wocket instead
Now this card has a cool factor! The Wallaby Card isn't a digital card quite like the others mentioned above. With this card all your credit cards will be stored on Wallaby's servers. You swipe the Wallaby card when you make a purchase and it automatically charges the credit card that will give you the most rewards.
The few drawbacks to this card is the difficulty to control which card you use for which purchase and it doesn't support anything but magnetic stripe as of yet. But hey if all you care about is getting the best reward return on your card and nothing else, this is the card for that.
Not sure exactly when this card is supposed to be released or if it will cost. It's been advertised since 2012, maybe even earlier, but if I can get my hands on one this is another card that I would definitely like to try. In the meantime, they have an Android/iOS app that tells you what card would be the perfect fit for your purchases.
The Wocket is a combo wallet/card. It has the ability to add accessories that allow you to hold cash and other things like your drivers license. Unfortunately this card combo also only supports magnetic stripe cards. It does have the ability to display bar codes and QR codes on its display though, which might be useful for some of those non-standard reward cards.
The Wocket will cost you $149.99.
|Plastc||$155||Stripe/NFC/EMV/TSCR||30 Days R|
|Swyp||$99||Stripe/EMV/SCR||1 Year R|
|Wocket||$229.99||Stripe||1 Year R|
- NFC = Near Field Communication
- EMV = Europay, Mastercard, Visa
- TSCR = touchscreen
- SCR = screen
- R = rechargeable
NFC / Tap-n-Pay
All the listed services below have the ability to store several credit cards in a secure manner to later use your phone to tap-n-pay with the selected card.
Apple has some cool factor for having the ability to use your Apple Watch to make a tap-n-pay payment in addition to your phone.
I'm sure Google will follow along with the watch being able to pay as soon as Android Wear watches are built with NFC chips.
On a side note, despite some of the media's portrayal that Apple Pay started the tap-n-pay trend, Google Wallet was there long before. Android also had fingerprint sensors before Apple, but that's a story for another day.