Too Many Cards

Speedy RewardsHow many of those various wallet sized cards are enough? You know what I am talking about – credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards, discount cards, and with the most recent season gift cards. Just how big is my wallet? Of course me personally, I hate carrying a wallet. It always makes my behind seem uneven when sitting (whose idea was that anyway?). But I have taken to small money and card holder that I do put in a jacket or shirt pocket – but it is overflowing. Overflowing and half the cards are in a folder that I is usually in my computer pack. But just as the folks the coffee shop earlier today felt, enough is enough.

One persons solution was to stop taking and carrying the cards. I agree that is probably the most logical solution but it is also the most impractical given the reason why so many of have so many cards. Granted, I have a few that I only use on very seldom occasion, but they are handy for discounts and such when you do need them. Others are used all the time and have some pretty good premiums offered.

My speedway card, which is not used as much now as it used to be, though it will probably pick up again the summer gets those coffee/soda club freebies. You know, purchase five or six and the next one is free. They do that on the two for $2.00 lunch items also, which can add up quick for me at times – especially during the summer.

Kroger of course tells me that I regularly save 30% on my grocery bill at the checkout line with the card – which I would not get without the card. I admit I do not really understand that one, I mean why not just make that the price? I suppose knowing what I am buying and prone to buy is that important to them. Of course these days, that 10% gas discount on a fill up is for every $100 in groceries I spend is becoming more and more important.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is one I do not use very often at all. But it is a good deal when I do use it so I try to remember to have it around all the time. Of course I never did have it when it was an actual card when I needed it. They however, have at least part of the right idea. They send a sticker of the bar code that can be place on another card for scanning.

That brings me to my (and the folks at the coffee shop) idea on the matter. Speaking of the coffee shop really quickly, the bulk coffee club, where you buy twelve pounds and get the next pound free has always just been done by name in the computer right there in the store. And bonus, when folks like my Mom get me coffee, she can give my name and I still get credited on the club. The other side of the store where coffee drinks are made? Not so much, it is a card and the offer of one to a customer spawned the conversation.

I counted it up yesterday. I have twelve cards in my little wallet thing counting my debit card and the company purchase card. I have no credit cards so that limits my need a little bit. Additionally though, right now I have two gift cards and of course my state issued drivers license/ID card. There are however at least eight more cards sitting in the folder that is most often in my computer bag. Just too much bulk to put in the little wallet. And sometimes I just forget to take those out when I am actually going somewhere that uses them.

Back to the idea… I figure we are still a bit away from the time of putting a small microchip in your hand somewhere that can be loaded with whatever personal information for me and the business could use that to tie to their data system with a simple scan. I am not sure I would want such a microchip myself anyway. I figure we are also not likely to see businesses being willing to adopt, the more practical concept of an universal ID card that would do the same and could just be scanned or swiped with my unique universal identifier that would still unlock my information – right?

One solution of course would be the adoption of more of these on the so-called smart phones. Of course the problem is that it only works on the cards that are scanned for bar codes instead of magnetic stripes only. And so many places can not scan off the phones. Similarly, while it does not require a smart phone per say, it does require a phone with some ability to store them and a high-resolution? How many people have those, as a percentage of all US consumers?

The idea bantered around and generally fixated on was some sort of multi card the user/consumer created. In the same vein as the Dick’s sticker that can be affixed to a different card, do something similar with one or two mega cards that have all the information on them for all the different places. One person in the conversation even suggested that there were some web-based businesses already doing just that. I would have to investigate that in some dept and have not yet. After all, that would seem ripe for exposing one to identity theft and besides I have never heard of such.

Thoughts?

** – Image from promotional material for the Speedy Rewards Card Program.