The Stratos All-In-One Credit Card Isn’t Perfect Enough

TECHCRUNCH: The anxiety hasn’t worn off yet. I’ve used the Stratos credit card for three weeks now and I’m still unsure if it will work for every transaction. It makes me nervous. That’s a problem for a device that promises to consolidate credit cards. For now, until the anxiety subsides, I’m carrying the Stratos card and all of my plastic cards and that defeats the point. 

The Stratos is an early player in a new category of devices. It’s a sort of universal credit card that aims to consolidate all the plastic cards in your wallet. To use a certain credit card, the owner simply taps one of the hidden buttons or selects one on the mobile app. When it works, it’s magic. When it doesn’t, it’s just another card to carry.

The Stratos failed to work about 5 percent of the time. And that’s a problem. Payment devices like Stratos, Apple Pay and Coin need to work every time. One failed interaction will cast doubt in the user’s mind. It was hard to predict when a transaction would fail, too. It worked at Starbucks. Home Depot and 7-Eleven accepted it. Chase ATMs worked fine, but a generic ATM at a bodega failed to read it. A couple of waiters returned it to me, annoyed that I gave them a business card instead of a credit card. When I assured them it was a VISA, they tried to run it and returned it to me asking for another form of payment.

So far the Stratos hasn’t reduced the amount of credit cards I carry.

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