Digital credit cards are on the rise. Think about how many cards you have in your purse or wallet now. How much lighter would it be if just one card dealt with everything? And how much more secure? Instead of having to cancel any each and everyone of your cards if you lose your bag, or have it stolen, with one quick sign on from your mobile or computer, you are able to cancel your new, one card. No calling up your banks and being put on hold, no panic over which ones to cancel first.
Other great things about these new digital credit cards are that you can easily check your balance before paying, lock out certain cards if you are going on a night out and, if you really don’t want to pack heavily for going out, you don’t have to take a purse or bag with you, you can just pop one of these in your pocket while still being able to use every card you own.
How they work
Most of the smart digital cards in this article work in the same way. Most come with a small sensor that you can plug into your phone (or in some cases, your computer). You can then scan whatever credit cards or store cards you want into the reader. A phone app will then allow you to select which cards you want to sync to your digital credit card (with each one having a limit of various amounts of stored cards)
Once you have uploaded your cards, you can then use your digital credit card as if it’s the cards you have preloaded. One great thing is that this allows for another level of peace of mind. You can always leave all of your cards at home, and if the worst happens, you can carry on spending and providing for all of life’s necessities with the original cards.
Many of the cards featured in this article have a small screen and buttons on them, allowing you to select which card you want to use. Furthermore, many come with fully featured phone apps that allow you to check balances, or swap what’s on the card, or even lock it down in case of emergencies.
So what companies are currently making cards, and which one is the best one? Well, it depends on what you want out of your digital card, as all of the current companies have different advantages and disadvantages. The main players, at the moment, are Coin, Plastc, Swyp and Stratos:
Coin is one of the most simple cards on this list. The card itself has only one button, which makes navigating between the different cards easy. Uploading your cards to Coin is also nice and simple. Using your smart phone, you place a small magnetic reader into it, swipe the card, and take a picture of the swiped card. The picture then allows you to keep track of what cards you have put onto your Coin. The card itself can hold up to eight cards, but you can swap what ones you have loaded at any time with the phone app.
One minor, but very cool, feature of coin is one of it’s security features for everyday forgetfulness. We’ve all done it before; being lost in thought and leaving our wallet, bag, or cards behind after being in a place. If you are moving away from the Coin digital credit card, and you have your phone on you, your phone will start beeping at you warning you to go back and get it.
Another really awesome feature is that your phone keeps track of where your Coin credit card is. Let’s say you have moved away from your new digital card, and was so engrossed in conversation that you didn’t notice your phone. Two hours later, you notice it’s gone, but you have no idea where you have left it. Using your phone, you can view the last known location of the Coin card on a map, allowing you to go back and recover it.
But despite this, you do not need to have your phone with you to be able to use the Coin Smart Digital credit card. It works without the device, meaning that you can leave your phone charging at home and still go out and purchase things.
This card has been made with the fact that your phone might not always be on in mind. Firstly, it does have a security measure where if your phone is near, the card will automatically be unlocked and ready to use. However, if your phone has ran out of charge or you have left it at home, you can unlock the device with a programmable series of short and long presses on Coin’s singular button; just like entering in some Morse Code. If this code has been entered wrongly three times, then all of your card details are erased, making it a really effective safe guard against malicious use.
If all else fails, and you know you have lost your card, you can cancel it. However, currently, this can not be done through the app and instead you have to go to a website to report the card lost.
Once you have signed in, you can simply report the card as lost and it will no longer work. At all. This means that if it does turn up, you will not be able to put any new cards on it
The makers also promise that the coin will last two years without needing a replacement or a new battery. The Coin digital credit card is compatible with both iPhone and Android (as long as you haven’t rooted the device and have upgraded to at least Android 4.3 which covers all major Android smart phones on the market today).
This digital credit card works with all of your cards, from credit cards, debit cards, to gift and loyalty cards. Just like all of the other digital credit cards, as it works via a magnetic strip, it will be accepted at most of the places that you usually use your cards.
It is also one of the cheaper options as well, costing only $100. All in all, with it’s great security features and cheap price point, The Coin is a great option for a first timer in digital credit cards and you can buy it today at amazon for $99.00 by clicking here and have it at your door in under 2 days if you just can’t wait.
There are two amazing features of this card that aren’t featured in the Coin card.
The first is the full, e-ink touchscreen. E-ink is exactly the same technology that is used in all popular e-reading devices, like the Amazon Kindle. With this card, there are no buttons. When you first go to use it, you simply type in a pin number (instead of remembering a Morse Code sequence), and then, with just a simple, intuitive, swipe either left or right you can scroll through your list of cards until you find the one you want to use.
This screen, also, contains all of the details of your card; the number, the name, the type of card it is, etc, whereas Coin only shows the first four digits. This has it’s advantages and disadvantages. The Coin is more secure, in that by only showing the first four digits, thieves won’t be able to just write down your credit card numbers. However, this solves one of the major problems of using a digital credit card. By having all of the card details, Plastc looks and feels like a normal card, meaning that if you hand it over to a merchant, they will be less confused about it.
If the merchant needs to see your name, I.D., or signature, the Plastc smart card also covers you, as it will show all of this information on the screen once the card has been swiped.
The other really cool feature is that it includes a chip. Whereas all the other cards work on the basis of their magnet strip, having a chip means that the Plastc can work even in places where you can’t pay using a magnetic strip which is a huge bonus as merchants in the United States start shifting to requiring EMV chip cards due to updated laws and regulations.
That said the main feature with the Plastc is it’s level of compatibility. Even gift cards that work via a merchant scanning in a barcode can be loaded onto the Plastc thanks to it’s great use of it’s e-ink touchscreen. It even works with Near Field Communications (NFC) payments; just like with the Apple iPhone and Android payment systems.
It also goes one step beyond security than Coin. If you leave it behind, as well as a notification that you have left it behind, once you have gone much further away, the information on the card is actually deleted. Once you have come back, it reactivates itself, taking all the information back from your phone.
Check out the follow video for more info about Plastc:
With this touch screen, however, comes a cost. The Plastc digital credit card has to be charged, unlike Coin or many of the others on this list which can last for years without the battery running out. Charging is simple however. All that needs to be done is the card set onto a base connected to your computer or in a plug socket and it will start charging. It is reported that the charge will last for 30 days, but do be aware that this will be yet another device you will have to remember to give more juice to.
Another bonus with Plastc is the app that comes along with the card. The card keeps track of all of your spending and syncs it with the app. The mobile app allows you to see all of the payments you have made, meaning that you can also keep track of what you are spending on which card. If you are buying things for business, or just trying to keep track of your spending, this can be an absolutely amazing feature. Best of all this app will likely be updated with new features and perks over time which could make it even more beneficial to the end user.
All of these extra features do come with a cost, other than the need to charge the card. The Plastc card is currently on pre-order, with a price of $155, making it $55 more expensive than coin. That said you can save $20 on your order by clicking on the following link here. Also if you want to be sure that all the cards you own are compatible, or avoid awkward conversations about how your new digital credit card works, than Plastc really is a smart choice. Additionally the build quality, high end look , and ability to load more than just credit cards makes Plastc the front runner for the digital card showdown. Best of all if ordered soon you should still be able to get in on the first Plastc Ship Date in July or August.
One of the great things about Swyp, is simply, how great it looks. This is one of the most stylish smart digital credit cards you can buy. The retail version will be almost the same price as the coin, at $99.
The interface for this one is a small screen in the lower left hand corner, and three buttons: Two arrows and one select button. Not as easy to use as Plastc, but much easier to use than the single button of Coin, as you are probably already used to using arrows and a select button to activate things.
One of the coolest features of Swyp, which isn’t found in the other smart digital cards, is the ability to send money and gift vouchers to people. This means that, if you know someone else who uses Swyp, and you want to gift them a cup of coffee or a gift card, you can use your card to painlessly and simply send them the money, even making it a nice little surprise for them. This means that it is perfect for birthdays and Christmas gifts.
If you have loaded a gift card into the digital credit card, then the mini screen also displays how much money you have on it, which is perfect if you have forgotten exactly how much a friend has given you.
Another great thing about Swyp is that unlike other digital credit cards, it is actually smart. It starts working out when you are going to use each card. Say there is a certain café that you typically go to with clients, and you use a business card to pay. Instead of selecting your personal credit card, Swyp will automatically display the card it thinks you are going to use.
Swyp has also been made with the tax man in mind. As well as storing all of your transactions, if you want it to, you can also store a receipt next to the transactions, allowing you to keep your accountant and the IRS happy.
As well as the usual locking features when it is out of range of your mobile phone, and notifications, it also offers encryption. This means that the data on your digital Swyp credit card is locked until you enter in the right pin code. Even if there was a security flaw, and hackers somehow managed to get data of your cards off of the device, without the personal pin, that data is useless to them and can not be unlocked.
One disadvantage with the Swyp is that it may not last as long as the other cards we have featured. The manufactures report that it has a battery life of a year. However, this battery is rechargeable, meaning that it would not be a matter of buying a whole new Swyp card once it has run out of charge. Instead, you can simply plug the Swyp digital credit card into an included battery charger.
Swyp also seems to be one of the most elegantly designed cards, as in, they have thought of many (if not all) use cases. For example, the card buttons will not activate themselves when you are using the card in a terminal or ATM. Furthermore, you can choose to have Swyp lock itself to just one card at a bar or a restaurant, preventing a server from pressing the buttons on it and accidentally charging you to the wrong card.
All in all, if you want to replace all of the pieces of plastic in your wallet with something that looks sleek and stylish, then Swyp is a really great choice. With it’s bank level encryption security, it may also be one of the most secure cards within this article as well. One thing it does lose out on over the Coin card though is the length of it’s battery (one year for the Swyp vs two years for the Coin card) and it’s availability. Whereas you will have to wait for a while to get your hands on a Swyp card, the Coin card guys (although backlogged) are shipping out all of their pre-ordered products. If you can wait though, Swyp might just be the perfect digital credit card to wait for.
Although it still does all of the things the other digital credit cards listed in this article do, Stratos really has a unique set of features compared to all the others.
The first one is that there isn’t a one-off fee for Stratos. Instead, Stratos works on a subscription basis. Why? Because Stratos, every year, will replace your digital credit card with a new one with all of the latest technology in it. This allows your digital credit card to also evolve with any new payment systems that are put into place at shops, become thinner and thinner each year, become lighter. All of this is without the hassle from you of constantly researching the newest cards and ordering a new one.
One amazing thing with the Stratos is also how very, very sleek it looks. If Swyp aims for style and professionalism, the Stratos aims for elegance and simplicity. The design of the card would not look out of place as a high end store’s gift card.
Up to three cards can be loaded to the Stratos card, and you can select which one to use via the use of three buttons on the Stratos, with an unlimited amount of cards able to be stored on the app, making switching the pre-loaded cards simple.
Another great feature of the Stratos, which is more than worth the yearly subscription fee of $95, is that it will give you notifications for if you are by anywhere you can use a gift card. Say you are about to pay for a Starbucks’ coffee. The Stratos app will remind you of your gift card, meaning that you don’t even have to remember what gift cards you have.
Just like Plastc, Stratos is also a great choice for making sure your card is compatible. As opposed to just using one magnetic strip, the Stratos card uses two, decreasing the chances of the card failing to make a payment.
Another great reason why Stratos is worth the $99 yearly fee is it’s possibility to save you money. For example, you might have a credit card that gives you points back when you use it on certain purchases. The Stratos digital credit card and app will remind you to use this card. If you are the kind of person who forgets about all the little reward point tricks to your cards, the Stratos could actually end up saving you money, and allow you to treat yourself to more things in life.
Each smart card has it’s advantages and disadvantages, but in summary, each of the four cards featured here will appeal to different people.
Get yourself a coin if you want to adopt a digital credit card as soon as possible while enjoying all of the latest tech and security features. That said the initial reviews haven’t been stellar as it seems they rushed to market.
Whereas, if you want to have a card that will catch the eye of anyone who see’s you using it, would like guaranteed compatibility, and want to store as many of your normal cards as you can on one device, then the Plastc is the way to go. Currently the ship date for Plastc is April 29, 2016 and if purchased soon you should still be able to make the first ship date. If not the second ship date will likely be in the fall of 2016. If you do decide you want to be one of the first people to get the Plastc card be sure to Click on this link to have an automatic $20 discount applied to your purchase.
If you want an easy to use card without all the features of Plastc then the Swyp and Stratos are great alternatives as well.