Wallaby: The New Credit Card Spend Maximizer?

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Yesterday I learned about an interesting new concept launching in beta form called the Wallaby Card. It’s from Wallaby Financial (part of the MuckerLab Accelerator project) and it supposedly is a single card that you can link to all your other credit cards and that will automatically register transactions with the appropriate card that you designate to maximize your travel points and cash back.

I don’t have too many details on Wallaby Financial just yet, but you can see its website hereMuckerLab is a company that mentors new startups and “accelerates” their launch by giving them the advice of professional mentors. As the site claims, “The Wallaby Card is one card to rule them all,” and will help consumers “swipe smarter” by linking all their cash-back and points-earning cards to a single Wallaby Card.

The Convenience Factor
No matter how much attention you pay and time you spend parsing out your spending habits (and reading The Points Guy, of course!), it’s still hard to make sure you’re maximizing earnings with various expenditures like dining out, online shopping, and staying on top of category spending bonuses.

The average American has over three credit cards, and most of those offer rewards of some sort. What Wallaby does is to connect them all in a “digital wallet” with a system that reviews each customer’s credit cards and directs spending that is swiped on the Wallaby Card to the credit card that will earn the most cash-back or points from a particular transaction, even for one-time and limited-time bonuses.

Consumers can link any US card including Amex, Discover, Mastercard and Visa to the Wallaby Card, which will work as a Visa, so it should be usable pretty much anywhere.

In the example Wallaby gives, if you use your Wallaby at a gas station to fill up your car, it will automatically charge the transaction to your card that would earn you double or triple points (or presumably 5x points in the case of the Chase Freedom Q3 bonus categories).

For those who want to take a more active role in how their spending is parceled out, they can turn off the card’s automatic mode and choose the option to designate what percentage of their overall spending should go to which card or cards, what their preferred earnings are—points, miles, cash-back—as well as dictating how certain items or categories such as restaurants or travel should be allocated.

There will be a mobile application that allows users to view their accounts and change their preferences at any time, as well as performing increasingly typical social media functions such as checking in on Foursquare and Facebook and “liking” a merchant where they have completed a transaction. The app will also show you daily, weekly and monthly updates on your points and cash-back, and point out nearby merchants where you can earn rewards.

The first 1,000 customers to sign up for the beta version of Wallaby will receive a lifetime membership benefit—it doesn’t specify, but I suspect it just means you’ll get the card for free. The next 5,000 individuals who sign up for the Wallaby wait list will get a fee-free card for 12 months. Everyone else will get 6 months free usage. After that, the card will carry a $50 annual fee. However, you can also apparently “move up the list” by Tweeting, Facebooking, inSharing Google +ing and Pinteresting the sign-up link.

Here’s a short video from the Wallaby homepage about how the card will work:

Analysis
It’s hard to get into specifics now without actually having the card and testing out both the automatic and manual modes, but overall, this is a very intriguing idea. I like services that do some of the heavy lifting for you and consolidate your information in a single, easy-to-use place, such as AwardWallet. This service is also like Simple, which links your bank accounts into a single overview, only for credit cards.

It would also bear some personal testing, but on the surface, I really like the idea of a card that either automatically maximizes your spending, or that with your own thorough research, you can allocate all the various spending that you do to the top-earning card in each category, so no fumbling through your wallet to use the Chase Sapphire Preferred at a restaurant, but to purchase airfare with your Amex Premier Rewards card, or put your room bill on the SPG Amex if you’re at a Westin.

I also like the fact that since it’s not a new line of credit—simply an aggregation of your existing credit—there’s no credit inquiry and it won’t affect your score.

One of my main concerns, however, would be data security. By linking all your credit cards to the Wallaby Card, you’re handing over an awful lot of information, not only about your identity, but about your finances and spending habits as well, and there’s no way to know how Wallaby or any company it may affiliate with in the future will use that information. For instance, according to this Betakit article, one way Wallaby plans to make money is by allowing merchants to offer targeted deals to consumers based on their purchase activity and to let credit card companies and banks market their products (and upsell) to customers.

The other thing to keep in mind is whether that $50 annual fee is worth it. Even super conservatively valuing points at just 1 cent each, you’d have to earn at least 5,000 extra points by using Wallaby just to make it worth it. If you think you’d do that, then the $50 is more than paid for.

Overall, though, I think I’m going to give Wallaby a try both to test out the automatic and manual settings and report back, even though I’d like to think I’m pretty savvy at maximizing my credit cards- we all make mistakes!

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