Monday, March 26, 2018

Cheap Tools: Credit Card Multi-tool Review

(Editor's Note: Chaplain Tim reviewed a similar tool in this post.)

I remember a few years ago when the first “credit card multi-tools” popped up and were very popular for some time. They seemed very useful, but were quite expensive. Since they are a cheap piece of steel with cut outs and laser engraving, the price has dropped considerably with time.

Since I thought it looked interesting, I picked up one of the most common designs.

I tested the tools on the card fairly heavily. All of them seem to work, albeit not as well as a specialty tool, but well enough for the $4 that I paid.

The hex head wrench was surprisingly useful, and worked well, as long as I wore gloves while I used it. The flat head screwdriver also works well, even when it was used on a stubborn bolt, and the bottle opener is very nice when I sit down to drink a Mexican Coke. That alone means that I will continue to carry this with me, unless I am going to be somewhere that objects to the blade on it, like an airport.

This is another tool that is cheap enough that if I loan it out, I don’t worry to much. If I decided to get a 20 pack, I could totally see myself giving them out as stocking stuffers.

Starting a fire with one should be possible; I just have to figure out the sparking.

The biggest issue is with the gripping it while you use it. The saw blade edge could in theory be useful, but it is neither large enough to be really useful, nor small enough to be out of the way when you need to use the tool.

The map compass is kind of useless. If the tool was clear, I would have no problem with it, but it is to small to be really useful as it is, since I found it difficult to read a map with it as an overlay.

The can opener is also hampered by the grip, and compares poorly to my old leatherman can opener on the multitool. I tried it on a number ten can and several smaller cans, and it was hard to use, since the saw cut into my hand as I tried to use it.

The instructions were not very useful. I ended up Googling my questions and found useful diagrams, but I would have preferred good instructions came with it.

I Would...
I would offer a “TSA friendly” version without any sharp edges, so that someone traveling could carry it. This would have the added advantage of being more wallet friendly, since the one I bought has a vinyl sheath that goes over it in order to prevent it from destroying your wallet.

I would put a scale on the ruler. I would probably actually add a second one on the other side, so that I would have both inches and centimeters.

Some sort of instructions would be nice. I have seen the pre-printed card that comes with most of them, and they really don’t explain much.

I would consider a redesign it so that you can wrap paracord around it as an easy storage method. It would no longer fit in a wallet that way, but it would still be an inexpensive addition to a bug out bag.

I would love to see a “Fishing Kit” version, designed to aid in hand line fishing.

The concept shows a lot of promise, and in specific situations this tool could be useful. This specific card tool seems like it does a lot of things in an okay manner, but none of them really well. In general, though, I recommend a belt multi tool.

All that said, if you can find one for cheap, I would pick it up. It is a nice addition (at that price) to an ultra-light bug out bag, or just to carry around with you in your wallet, and can be loaned out with minimal worry.

I will be trying out several variants of this in the future, because I feel like this has so much unfulfilled promise.

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