About Plastc Card
Have you ever stopped to take a look at how many credit cards and debit cards are in your wallet? According to a Gallup survey, if you’ve got credit cards you probably have four of them in your wallet. Throw in two bank cards and a store credit card and your wallet could literally be overflowing with credit cards.
Plastc Card, a new form of consumer technology, is a credit-card size device that allows you to store all of your credit, debit and gift cards in a safe manner, they claim. Several layers of security ensure that, Plastc says.
The card is still in development phase, but can be preordered for $155 and, according to the company’s website, will be shipped on April 29.
This product is appealing, but we wanted to know how it works, if it’s safe and how it compares to similar products.
Over the next few minutes we’ll address each of these issues, then give you our overall perspective on the product.
How Does the Plastc Card Work?
The Plastc Card, as we said, looks exactly like a credit card but with two modifications. One of them you can see; there’s a rectangular e-ink screen (the kind of screen you find on a Kindle e-reader) about the size of the card-number and name area on a regular credit card.
Sandwiched unseen in the card is the electronic hardware that runs the screen, emits a Bluetooth signal and stores all of your credit card information.
This signal also pairs your Plastc Card to the Plastc Wallet, an app you use to add up to 20 cards to your Plastc and manage them. The e-ink screen lets you select the debit/credit/gift card you want to use. The card is chip- and NFC-enabled.
The card has a battery which must be charged on a charging station Plastc provides, but Plastc’s website says the device only needs to be charged once every 30 days.
Based on what we’ve seen, we think the Plastc Card has the potential to make credit/debit card organization much easier. You don’t have to worry about losing cards nor the time-consuming process of waiting for a new card to be sent.
However, Plastc isn’t a new idea. There are other cards like it, and we’ll get to that in a few minutes.
What Security Measures Does Plastc Card Have?
The Plastc has six different security measures to protect your card. First, when you activate the card you are required to enter your name, social security number, a pre-chosen PIN and take a photo of yourself using the Plastc app.
That photo is the second form of security. Each time you pay for an item, your photo shows up on the e-ink screen. Employees can use this to validate your identity.
But let’s say you forget your card in Starbucks. What happens then? Well, your card will send you a notification when you are more than 100 feet away from it, kind of like a distress signal. If for some reason you don’t see the notification until you’re 50 miles away, you can implement the fourth security measure: the remote wipe.
This feature allows you to wipe your card clean of any personal information. You also can set the card to do routine wipes by the hour, day or week.
The card also has PIN security – every time you use the card, you have to enter a PIN to unlock it. And the final feature is lock mode, where you can choose (lock) one card for continuous use. Once you choose that card, merchants will only be able to see the last four digits of the card number. When lock mode isn’t on, you can see all the digits.
We believe the Plastc offers some solid security measures, some of which (photo, PIN) already exist on debit and credit cards.
But since the card works with a magnetic strip, we were concerned that thieves could use skimming tactics (stealing the card’s info with a device that reads your card’s magnetic strip) just like they do with normal credit cards.
We posed this question to a customer service rep, who told us that the magnetic strip is only active from the time you put in your PIN until just a few seconds after you pay. In our opinion, this is a simple yet effective way to prevent skimming.
How Does Plastc Compare to Similar Products on the Market?
All of these cards, Plastc included, charge a yearly membership fee. According to Plastc’s site, the card will sell for $180 in April and will be good for 18 months. After that, yearly fees are $50.
Plastc’s $50 annual fee after 18 months is the cheapest among competitors. However, we think Coin 2.0 wins out because the card is $99 and there are no yearly fees.
In terms of technology, it’s our opinion that Plastc wins out. It’s chip-and-PIN enabled and has NFC) technology separate it from the pack. Swyp is chip-and-PIN enabled but doesn’t have NFC. Coin 2.0 has NFC but isn’t chip-and-PIN enabled. Stratos has neither.
Battery life is another important aspect here. Coin 2.0 and Stratos have a battery life of two years but don’t come with a charger. Swyp comes with a charger, but one charge at four swipes a day lasts about a year. One charge on a Plastc lasts about 30 days, but it comes with a charger. Our opinion? It’s a toss-up. Coin 2.0 and Stratos last a long time, so a charger is pretty irrelevant.
Our Conclusions About Plastc Card
Plastc Card presents a problem for us. Though our research shows this could be one of the better products in the multi-card industry, all of Plastc Card’s features and benefits are pretty speculative at this point because it hasn’t released yet.
We won’t really know how it works, what kind of bugs it will have and what consumers’ general thoughts are until the card is out on the market.
While Plastc has some pretty impressive technology (NFC, chip-enabled) with a competitive yearly membership fee, we can’t really say it’s better than any other multi-account card out there. Why? Because it doesn’t really exist yet.
If you’re someone who likes to take a chance on new technology, it’s our opinion that Plastc could be a good choice simply because it has, in theory, the most impressive list of features on the market (based on our research). But, as we mentioned before, we can’t say for sure if it lives up to expectations.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to wait five or six months to buy a new piece of technology, we think it wouldn’t do you any harm to wait to buy the Plastc Card. A wait-and-see strategy could pay off for you, especially when you think about how a similar product like Coin is already on its second version (the first version has a dismal 1.5-star rating on Highya) and other first-version devices like TrackR have also received poor reviews.
Whether you choose to buy now or buy later, it’s our opinion that multi-account cards are a pretty safe way to store your credit cards, debit cards and gift cards.
Meanwhile, if you want to learn about how all of your credit cards affect your credit score, check out our recent article, “Making Sense of Your Credit Score: Your Comprehensive Guide”. It will teach you how credit scores started and what they represent, what good and bad scores are and how your scores affect your daily life.