Binji’s Card Consolidation Sounds Awesome, But Take a Closer Look
Ever since I determined that I was ready to jump back into the credit card game after swearing off them in my 20s, my wife and I have been all about maximizing our rewards. With the relatively modest sum of three main cards to our names, for the most part, we’ve become pretty good at knowing what card to use when and ensuring our wallets are well equipped when we go shopping. Nevertheless, the prospect of have a single card with which we could easily select our preferred payment method does certainly sound appealing. For a minute, that’s what I thought Binji but was offering… but then I took a closer look.
I remember first seeing online ads for Coin and other smartcards some years ago. Of course, at that time, I had no use for them since I was strictly a debit card guy. In hindsight, I suppose my failure to jump aboard was good as several of those offerings have shuttered. That’s why I was interested to see that a FinTech called Binji was revisiting the idea, this time with the twist of integrating the card with a mobile-based banking account. Granted, I already have enough of those — but, hey, it still sounded good enough at this point.
As I explored Binji’s site, the first strike against them was that the card itself doesn’t come free with an account but, instead, costs $89. While I’m sure these Bluetooth-equipped, LCD display cards can’t be cheap to make, it’s hard to imagine that I’d get $89 worth out of convience from the product. To that point, watching their materials on how to select which card you want to pay with, I quickly realized that it’d be much easier to just carry any card and bust it out when I need it.
If that weren’t enough to crush my (short-lived) dream of trying a smartcard for myself, the worst was yet to come. I started to pay closer attention to the way Binji described their card consolidation feature, noting that they didn’t say you’d be selecting the card you wanted to pay with but the “card you’ll use to fund your account.” Moreover, the how-to video showed that you’d select how much you want to fund your account with, suggesting the card isn’t just acting like a proxy as I had assumed. This led me to believe that, for cards that offer bonus cash back based on purchase categories, you’d only receive the base level of rewards since the retailer would be Binji and not the store/restaurant/whatever itself.
But there’s more. Going down the rabbit hole on this “fund your account” thing, I discovered that, in order to use a credit card to fund your Binji account, you’d be assessed a 3% fee! I was kind of taken aback by this, so I took to Twitter to confirm with the company. Sure enough, they responded, “Yes, that is correct. Funding your Binji account or sending P2P payments with a credit card will incur a 3% fee.” They also confirmed to another Twitter user that category-specific rewards would not work with their product. So not only are you potentially missing rewards you’d be entitled to by using your card normally but are also paying an extra 3%?! That’s a “no” from me, dawg.
Look, I don’t mean to tear Binji down here, but this experience was a good reminder about doing your researching before purchasing products. Had I relied on my assumptions instead of looking at the actual info, I could have very well ended up spending $89 on a card I’d surely never use and an account I had no use for. So, instead of a Binji card, I guess I’ll just shop around for a more accommodating wallet instead.