In part 1 of my Coin review I covered the background of the product and my experiences before receiving the product. In this post, I will cover my first impressions after using the product. In the final part of my review, I will talk about competitors and my overall impressions of the Coin product.
While the pre-order left a lot to desire, the packaging and marketing of the actual product was well done. My Coin arrived in a small USPS package that was easy to open. The actual Coin packaging reminded me of Apple packaging – simple, easy and well done.
Before talking about my experiences upon opening the box, I would like to take a tangent to talk about credit/debit cards in general. I have had several different types of credit/debit cards over the years. While they come in different colors and some now have a chip inside of them, the basic layout of the cards is pretty standard. You have a plastic card where the front of the card with numbers raised from the rest of the card and then you have the other details such as the name and expiration date. On the back you have the CVV code and a strip to sign your name.
I have had two cards that were different from the rest. ING Direct, which has now changed to CapitalOne 360 offers a very different debit card. The front is an advertisement for the company and does not contain any raised numbers nor any personal credit/debit information. All information is on the back of the card and no raised numbers are present. I remember using it once where someone initially declined it because they thought it was the fake card you get with pre-approval letters in the mail. While the debit card was not as flimsy as the fake paper cards it otherwise looked very similar.
More recently, I received a new Marriott Rewards Credit Card from Chase. The new card came with a chip, but I remember grabbing the envelope from the mailbox and knowing the card was different. The envelope was really heavy and when I opened it, I realized the card were not plastic, but instead metal. The card felt strong and substantial. On top of that, it was black making me feel like I had an unlimited credit line — perhaps that was the point. I remember when I saw the Coin advertisements that I expected it to be something similar to the new Marriott Rewards card — black in color and very substantial.
Going back to the Coin opening, when I saw the black Coin card for the first time, I could instantly tell that it did not look anything like the advertisements. I went to pick it up and I thought I was going to break it taking it out of the packaging. Man was this thing light, thin and flexible. It was even closer to the fake credit cards you get in the mail than my CapitalOne 360 debit card.
Putting the Coin down for a second, I took out the other piece — the credit card reader. The only other thing in the package was a credit card size note with some directions. I opened the Coin app on my phone, signed in, created a pin and connected the card reader. The first step was to add one or more cards to the app. I attempted to add five cards. The first one scanned without issue. I was prompted to enter a phone number for customer support, the CVV2 code, the billing zip code for the card and then take a picture of the front and back of the card before the card was added. While I did not have an option to name the card, I could select a color for it. I opted to choose a color as close to the card as possible in an attempt to remember what card was what. I repeated this process with the four other cards.
Two of the cards I struggled to get the card reader to read. Eventually, after going really slowly they read properly. One card refused to add declining the zip code I entered — the card was my FSA card. After getting four of the five cards added it was time to sync the app to my card. The directions were to hold the button on the card until it read “SYNC”. Picking the card up again, I could clearly see the button in the card even without the white circle around it given how thin the card was. I pressed and held the button and the screen on the card lit up. After about 10 seconds the screen flashed a couple times and the card turned off.
Assuming I was doing something wrong, I consulted the online guide to discover you need to press the button once to turn it on and then press and hold it to wait for SYNC. When I did this the SYNC worked as expected and the devices paired. At this point everything was confirmed and I was good to go! Finally, I took the card out to the local grocery store to try it out. When I got to the register I had to press the button once for it to turn on at which time it said LOCK. After about 5 seconds it changed to the last card number I had added and I could pay — the process worked flawlessly. When I got home I checked my phone and I had a notification from the Coin app asking me if I had left my Coin behind. I double checked my wallet and it was there.
The next time I tried to use my Coin was at a local florist and this time I left my phone in the car. Upon getting to the register I pressed the button to wake up the card. It stayed at LOCK for more than 5 seconds and had no indication that I needed to enter my (morse) code to unlock the card. Eventually the card turned off. I pressed the button again and this time entered my (morse) code and the card unlocked — I really wish it told me when it was searching and when the search failed so I knew I had to enter my code. I attempted to pay, but the machine did not take my card. I tried with my physical card and that was also not accepted — eventually the machine started working with the physical card. I could not confirm the issue with with my Coin. Upon putting the Coin back in my wallet I could already see wear from swiping my card — time will tell how well the Coin holds up.
It has been about a week since I started this post and during that time I have used Coin in a variety of different locations. The Coin has worked everywhere to date except the at USPS where the I always get “Invalid Card” and the person behind the desk looks at me like I am trying to steal. Only a couple places have actually noticed that the card is different and they are quick to point out how cool it is though they do not really ask any questions about it.
© 2015, Steve Flanders. All rights reserved.