You can consolidate debts, but in the future you might be able to consolidate credit cards -- literally -- and carry around one card for multiple accounts with the same institution. At a technology conference this week, a startup called Dynamics Inc. demoed two types of next-generation smart cards that feature programmable magnetic stripes, according to a blog at VentureBeat, which co-produced the conference. If credit card issuers adopt the "Card 2.0" technology in the future, consumers could see better security controls on their credit cards and be able to use one card for multiple accounts. The cards aren't currently available.
How they work
With one of Dynamic's MultiAccount cards, the blogger writes, you would press a button on the card to switch from one account to another, and an indicator light would show which credit card number you selected. The card could then be used as normal. A cardholder could use the card to switch from a business credit card account to a personal credit card account at the same bank, for example.
With Dynamic's Hidden card, the front of the card doesn't show the full 16-digit card number. The consumer has to enter a PIN on the card itself to see the remaining numbers on an electronic display. At that point, "the Electronic Stripe is then populated with the correct magnetic information so that the card can also be used with magnetic stripe readers," according to the press release from Dynamics. The screen powers off on its own, erasing the card number on the magnetic stripe and rendering the card useless to a thief that doesn't know the PIN.
Otherwise, the battery-operated cards would work exactly the same as any ordinary credit card. You could swipe them in any card reader and at the ATM.
Talk back: Would you prefer a PIN-protected credit card or a 2-in-1 card over a regular credit card?
To follow trends in the industry and learn tips on managing your credit cards, sign up for Credit Card News.
Follow me on Twitter.