Rarely am I impressed with the ideas from new West Coast tech startups. They are generally just rehashing things that have already been done. More social networks or ways to share with our friends how cool we are – like we need more of that anyway. The Wallaby Card, however, is different.
[Note: this is not a promotional post - just my thoughts]
It probably won’t be long before a slew of young tech assholes from California copy the Wallaby Card with other new startups, but before they do, let’s give Wallaby some ink.
So what exactly makes the Wallaby Card different?
In a nutshell, it is a cloud-based wallet that keeps track of your rewards credit and debit cards, automatically chooses the most lucrative reward for your current transaction, and routes the transaction through that card. The project is backed by the Santa Monica accelerator MuckerLab.
Unlike what its name suggests, it’s not a new line of credit with a bank or lender, it is simply an aggregator of your cards. They don’t pull a hard credit check on you, so using Wallaby Card will not directly affect your credit score.
What makes the Wallaby Card different is that it provides you with a physical swipe card on which to record all your transactions. Now instead of having 5 rewards cards, one for cash back, one for miles, one for your favorite store, etc, you can carry just one.
Yes other companies have tried this service before, but they usually will offer you an app for your phone or some dashboard to log in to and make your determination. Wallaby Card is the first one I’ve heard of that offers you a physical card and does the hard work for you.
In my money clip I have two credit cards, a Chase Freedom card and a Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Like many people, I carry these for their rewards perks, as well as for security, identity protection and for traveling.
Because Chase Freedom offers rotating 5% cash back categories like groceries and gasoline, some months we have to use two cards and remember which to use for different types of purchase. Since it’s only two cards for us, I’m not sure if I’m going to be signing up for the Wallaby Card, but if I somehow find myself with an additional card, I will probably be climbing the wallaby’s tree.
In writing this post, I checked out the website for Wallaby Card and came across this infographic which shows that over 30 million consumers carry four credit cards in their wallet. When we used to have credit card debt, we probably had more than five cards open at any one time, playing the balance transfer game every six months to save a few bucks.
The infographic also shows that most people prefer cash back. It doesn’t say why, but I have a guess. Airline points are notoriously confusing, hard to redeem, and miles are an abstract idea. Cash is a tangible reality. While you might get more bang for your buck with airline miles, especially if you are a frequent traveler, people seem to prefer the simplicity of the rebate-style rewards of cash back.
I know I do.
The nature of the product makes the Wallaby Card also unique – it is a product that can make or save you money, which is pretty important since it comes with an annual fee.
To Credit Card or Not to Credit Card
The usage of cash is declining, at least in the world as I see it. Credit cards got me into trouble, but they also helped get me out. How is that? Because credit cards are not the problem – YOU are the problem.
Once you fix YOU, then you can responsibly begin to use credit cards again.
Yes I’m sure there are a small percentage of customers – I have heard about 1-3% who actually have diagnosable shopping and spending addictions – who can never responsibly use a credit card. But most of us can, and you are leaving free money on the table if you are not using a rewards card and paying your balance in full at the end of each month.
For those of us who have moved to expert user status, the Wallaby Card can take us to a whole new level.