Let this service optimize your reward credit cards

Corner of MasterCard credit card

If you're the average American, then you own several credit cards that offer rewards when you use them for purchases.

But with so many choices and frequently changing rewards, it can be confusing to figure out what’s the best card to swipe.

Now there’s a new service promising to make it all easier.

The Wallaby Card (www.walla.by), introduced in June, acts as both a physical credit card and a digital wallet. Basically, it combines all of your credit cards into one, then decides which of your card accounts to route each of your transactions to, based on where you can get the most frequent-flyer miles or cash-back rewards.

You register all your physical cards online with Wallaby, which then automatically manages your cards for you. You’ll be asked what type of rewards you favor (do you prefer miles to cash back, for example) and what your favorite cards are.

Then you’re mailed your Wallaby card, which looks, acts and swipes like a standard network-branded credit card.

Every transaction goes through the Wallaby system, and a real-time algorithm, plus your preset requirements, directs which of your cards that transaction should be sent to.

Say you swipe your Wallaby card after filling up at the gas pump. It will automatically route that transaction to the card that gives you the highest cash-back rewards for purchases. Use your Wallaby card at a restaurant, it will go to the card that gives you triple frequent-flyer miles for dining out.

If you want more control over where your spending goes, you can designate what percentage of money spent should go to what card. You can choose to get real-time alerts after each transaction, such as "You spent $22 at Starbucks, and we used your Discover More card for the transaction."

You can also view your statements online.

The first 1,000 users who signed up for the company’s beta are promised a free lifetime membership, but Wallaby CEO Matthew Goldman, who previously worked at the prepaid debit card company Green Dot, says the waiting list is far beyond that now, and the card won’t be officially launched until next year.

Anyone who signs up for the waiting list now will get a 6-month free period, then the service will cost $50 a year. Goldman says the cost will be worth it because using the Wallaby card will rack up much more in new cash-back rewards and points.

But there are a few glitches of which to be aware.

While the Wallaby card will work with any major credit card, like MasterCard or Visa, it currently doesn’t work with private-label store cards, like Macy’s or Banana Republic.

Also, you’re in charge of paying the annual fees and bills for your cards — Wallaby doesn’t handle that for you. If you have a credit card with rotating categories (like one that lets you get 5% cash back on restaurants purchases in the fall, then 5% on gas purchases in the winter), you’ll have to activate your enrollment each quarter.

And because all your purchases are technically charged on the Wallaby card number, then rerouted to the credit card, you’re not guaranteed to keep that card’s specific benefits like extended warranty or price protection.