Coin, a Smart Credit Card, Is it for You?

Coin - Display Off
This is what the Coin looks like when not in use. E-ink screen is dark.

I finally received my Coin several weeks ago. First impressions, awesome packaging! The box looks like an apple product and the card is sleek and feels a bit different than a regular credit card. It comes with a card reader, a short instruction booklet and the Coin card engraved with your name.

What is it? From the Coin website FAQ:

“Coin is a secure, connected device that can hold and behave like the cards you already carry. A single Coin can help lighten your wallet by consolidating your debit cards, credit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards, and membership cards. Multiple accounts and information – all in one place.”

My summary:

Smart credit card that stores up to 8 cards (credit, debit or loyalty cards) on the device. Includes a free app that can hold unlimited cards. Uses Bluetooth for syncing on the go. Bonus: security! The coin will only activate automatically when in range of your phone’s Bluetooth or you enter a six digit pass code. That way, if your card is stolen someone else cannot use it and if your phone dies (or you forget it at home) you can still use it!

Has field testing been successful? Overall, moderately.

Coin with Credit Card on E-ink Screen
This is what the Coin displays for credit cards.

App & loading cards: For some reason, it does not recognize any of my gift cards, even with manual entry. It also does not recognize my Nordstroms Credit Card (store only card, not the Visa). I’ve also been unable to delete a credit card that I had loaded on the app prior to actually receiving the physical coin. The app crashes every time I try to select this card. The app automatically names your credit cards “MC”, “VISA”, “AMEX” or “DISC”. When you have multiple of any of these, the only way to distinguish them on the Coin e-ink screen is by the last four digits. I have several MasterCards, so now I’m going to need to memorize the last four digits so I can know which one is which.

Coin with Lock Screen
This is what the Coin displays when the “Lock & Find” feature is turned on.

Last Known Location: I’m not sure if this is just a glitch, or if this is how it will function. A couple of times, when I left a location where I used my coin, I got the “Did you leave your Coin behind?” message. But it was in my wallet, less than a foot from my phone.

Use as a credit card: So far, my Coin has worked approximately 75% of the time. I was able to use it at a Sam’s gas pump, but not at a 711 or Racetrak. There is a little bit of a lag from when you press the button for the screen to activate. You have to press the button to turn it on, then it shows “LOCK”. Press again and if you are in range of your phone, it will show one of your cards. If you are not in range of your phone, this is where it gets a bit tricky. I’m still not sure if the first press to turn it on counts as part of your passcode. Every time I’ve not had my phone or it didn’t sync (for some reason) I’ve had to enter my passcode twice. Plus, there is a bit of a lag when you cycle through the cards, so you’ll need to remember to take it out to pay a bit before to select the right card.

Horror Story – Worst Travel Experience

Coin with Loyalty Card on E-ink Display
This is what the Coin displays for gift or loyalty cards. You can select the four digits to display.

A friend of mine happened to receive a Coin the week before mine arrived. Her horror story gave me good reason to not rely on the card 100%. While traveling with only her Coin card, the rental car company would not rent her a car without her physical credit card in hand, so she ended up having to take an uber 40 miles to her destination. This, coupled with my 75% rate of success means I will still carry a backup credit card (or two) for now!

Do you have a Coin?

I tweeted my success rate after the first few times I used it and the @coin team directed me to share issues via merchants.onlycoin.com. Upon perusing the main website, I cannot find a link to the merchant site. So, if you have a coin, please take note of the link and share your use issues so we can increase the number of compatible merchants!

Final Thoughts – Is a smart credit card really for you?

Minor Abrasions on the Coin Surface
Already a bit scratched up! Only used a handful of times and there are minor abrasions that are only visible at certain angles. I hope it does not get any worse!

Well, first of all, you’ll need a Smartphone (iOS or Andrioid) to really get the full use out of the card. It is possible to use without, but you have to have one for setup and then you’d be stuck with only the 8 cards loaded at that time. Second, do you live in the US? If not, you are out of luck and cannot order a Coin! Overall, I’m happy with the value of the Coin at the $55 pre-order rate that is no longer available. Woah. I had no idea that it took them 18 months from pre-order to arrival. I paid $55 back in December if 2013. They now retail for $100, but with taxes and shipping its $117 and change. Would I purchase one at the current price? Maybe. It is still unclear when they will ship after you place your order, so I’d want some clarification on that prior to purchase.

With a 75% rate of success, as I mentioned before, I’ll still be carrying a backup credit card at all time, but it does give me the flexibility to carry less cards around for errands or a night on the town. It is supposed to work internationally and will continue to be accepted even after the EMV transition that is coming up in the US later this year!

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