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Chipolo CARD Spot review: AirTag alternative that fits in your wallet

Thriving in Apple's Find My network, the Chipolo CARD Spot is an iPhone user's dream in a missing wallet nightmare.
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Written by June Wan, Tech Editor on
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June Wan/ZDNet

Slovenia-based tech company Chipolo has been churning out colorful, chip-sized Bluetooth trackers since its Kickstarter days in 2013. It wasn't until last year, however, when Chipolo launched the ONE Spot, which was shaped like an AirTag, cost about the same as an AirTag, and dialed into Apple's Find My network exactly like an AirTag. Besides being an obvious alternative, the ONE Spot was generally a good tracker, and accessing Apple's crowdsourced network gave Chipolo a step above companies like Tile.

During CES this year, Chipolo unveiled a new tracker with the same Find My licensing. Aptly named, the CARD Spot was pitched as a slim, card-shaped wallet finder and sold for $35. I got a chance to test it out over the past few weeks, leaving my wallet (with the card inside) at a local park, a friend's house, and at home, seeing just how reliable the CARD Spot was at keeping my money in check. Here's how that went.

Like
  • Fits in wallets like a credit card
  • Alarm is very loud
  • Apple's Find My network integration
  • Two-year battery life
Don't Like
  • No ultra-wideband for Precision Finding
  • Non-replaceable battery
  • Design is bland
  • Not ideal for Android users

Setup

The setup process for Bluetooth trackers is usually quick and simple, so I expected nothing less with the Chipolo CARD Spot. Given that the tracker only works with Apple devices, I paired it to my iPhone by opening the Find My app, tapping "Add New Item" and pressing the physical button on the card to complete the process. Within 10 seconds, I had a synced-up, ready-to-use wallet finder. 

The CARD Spot measures at a thickness of 0.09 inches, which is close to two credits cards stacked together. Still, I had no trouble fitting it into various wallet types. Unsurprisingly, the Chipolo CARD works better in wallets than the standard coin-shaped tracker; There's less of a bulge and the matte black finish keeps the gadget discreet.

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June Wan/ZDNet

Performance

The discoverability of the Chipolo CARD Spot is aided by two things: A built-in speaker and Find My integration. Within a 200-foot range, I was able to connect to the tracker and trigger a sound alarm via Bluetooth. For distances further than that, the Find My app comes into play by crowdsourcing surrounding iPhone, iPad, and Mac users to locate the CARD Spot.

Speaker quality was loud, with a 105dB volume, and beeped in a melody that was hard not to turn a head to. Whether I was in a bustling cafe or the local recreation center, I had no issues with hearing the alert. (Neither did those who were around who gave me a questioning stare.) The loudness shouldn't come as surprise, though, as the CARD Spot's larger dimensions give room to a bigger speaker. To give you a gist of how that sounds when inside a wallet, listen to the demo below.

By working in tandem with Apple's Find My network, you don't have to download any third-party software to track the Chipolo CARD Spot. In the Find My app, I was pleased to see a slew of controls, navigation features, and lock settings to operate the tracker. The two main toggles are "Play Sound", as demonstrated in the video above, and "Directions", which guides you to your CARD Spot via Apple Maps.

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June Wan/ZDNet

Chipolo didn't add any ultra-wideband technology into the wallet tracker, so the CARD Spot can't be located as accurately or by the inch as the AirTag can with Precision Finding. Still, the navigation prompts were easy to follow and always brought me within range of hearing the tracker's chime, even when my wallet was left outdoors. Voice navigation can also be enabled since the directions come through Apple Maps.

More: Best GPS trackers and devices for kids

To help keep your wallet in hand, one measure of defense that the CARD Spot uses is the "Notify When Left Behind" app feature. When toggled, the iPhone will sound an alarm every time you're out of the tracker's proximity. During testing, there was a day when I went grocery shopping and was reminded that my wallet was still at home after I had walked to the corner of my street. The same rule applies if you accidentally leave your wallet at a restaurant or store, and walk away. Conveniently, you can also whitelist locations so that your phone doesn't notify you of the Chipolo's absence. Sometimes, a relaxing walk in the park is what your heart needs -- not the money.

Lost Mode is another defense measure that's best utilized when you can't find the CARD Spot at all. When turned on, the tracker will prevent itself from being paired to another device, your iPhone will notify you when the location of the tracker is detected by another Find My user, and your contact information will display on that user's device. Though you can't prompt the lost tracker to ring -- a Bluetooth connection is needed for that function -- the Find My map will present a rough estimate of where it's located.

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June Wan/ZDNet

The CARD Spot comes with an irreplaceable battery that's ready to use out of the box. Chipolo rates the tracker for up to two years of usage and will offer a 50% off replacement when you trade it in -- to be recycled -- at the end of that lifespan. That means every CARD Spot that you buy after the first is just $17.50, which is a pretty good deal. More importantly, this incentive helps on the sustainability front by recycling the materials instead of throwing them out as is.

Conclusion

Over the last decade, Bluetooth trackers have been a godsend for people who often misplace their keys and wallets, or just want comfort knowing they can keep a digital eye on their belongings. The Chipolo CARD Spot is no different.

The Find My app does most of the heavy-lifting for the Chipolo. It's an investment that, I believe, has paid off for the CARD Spot, as it not only gives more control and features to users but helps the product stand out from standard, Bluetooth-only options. 

Priced at $35 for one and $65 for two, the wallet tracker is dependable, built to last, and competes well in a market that has long been owned by Tile Slim (2022) and, more recently, Apple AirTag.

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