Option to use with Find My or as an app-based proximity tracker
Don’t lose its unique charger
Missing the extra two radios found in AirTag
When you need a flat-format tracker for Apple’s Find My network or proximity tracking, the Pebblebee Card has all the benefits.
Price at review
Best Prices Today: Pebblebee Card
The Pebblebee Card performs a trick I never thought possible: it puts a rechargeable battery in a wallet-sized wireless tracker that runs on Apple’s Find My network. The company says the battery will last about 12 months between charges. Charging requires an included adapter. Apple’s AirTag has a replaceable battery, but the tracker itself is a small spherical lump — not exactly comfortable in a wallet. (You might consider a wallet case like the TagVault: Wallet or Nomad Card.)
The matte black plastic Pebblebee card is slightly smaller than a credit card and measures approximately 53 by 84 mm. It’s thicker, though: a credit card is only 3/100th of an inch (0.78mm), while the card is just over 1/10th of an inch (2.8mm). It weighs 0.5 ounces (15 grams). Even at that size, Pebblebee claims a range of 500 feet (150 m) for its Bluetooth transmitter. It can play a loud, unique, vibrating sound when you play a sound or the Find My anti-stalking triggers are activated.
Pebblebee uniquely offers the choice between pairing the card (or its AirTag-format Clip) with Apple’s Find My network and Pebblebee’s proximity-based iPhone and Android app. You can only choose one network, but it’s easy to press the logo of the card three times and then hold for 10 seconds to restore the factory settings. You can then re-pair with Find My or the Pebblebee app.
The proprietary cable included for charging has a small two-pin magnetically coupled attachment on one end and a USB Type-A plug on the other. Your only danger is losing the cable between charges. You can press and hold the logo for about four seconds to check battery life via five small LEDs on one side that light up to indicate the charge remaining. You can also use the Find My or Pebblebee app to see the charge level, depending on which network you’re connected to.
Whether you use Find My or the Pebblebee app, there really is a difference when it comes to global reach. Apple’s Find My network is made up of all iPhone, iPad, and Mac users worldwide who have left the feature turned on (it’s turned on by default). Their devices take their known location and package it with encrypted Bluetooth signals from AirTag and other Find My items they detect nearby. (This also works for all Apple devices that are not currently connected to the Internet and running new versions of their operating systems.) Once you link an AirTag to an iPhone or iPad, you can view its locations through any native Find My app on all your devices linked by iCloud.
Pebblebee’s system, on the other hand, uses proximity to the single device — iPhone or Android — you paired it with through the company’s app. The app requires background location tracking to keep an eye on the map’s last known location relative to that device when it goes out of range. With background location tracking enabled, the app can warn you if you’ve left a map in place when you’ve moved on, especially useful for letting you know if you’ve left a wallet or bag behind. The app can also trigger the Card to play a sound, but that will only work if the device and Card are within Bluetooth range.
Pebblebee’s app will securely relay the location of any Pebblebee devices it passes that have been marked as lost by their owners, but that installed user base is quite low compared to the set of all eligible Apple device owners.
Like other Find My items not made by Apple, the card doesn’t include two extra radios: UWB (ultrawideband) used for precision and direction finding over short distances, and NFC (near-field communication), the same technology behind Apple Pay and tap-to-pay credit card. An iPhone or iPad can detect an unpaired AirTag nearby and offer to configure it. NFC is also used for a found device: tap it or hold it near an NFC-enabled smartphone and the device’s reader will open a link for more information, such as the owner’s contact information for a lost device. Without NFC, it takes a few extra steps to pair in Find My or get information about a discovered Find My device.
I used to see the extra Find My steps and the lack of UWB and NFC as a drawback of choosing non-Apple gear. However, neither has proven to be a major problem in practice. If you feel that directional proximity, NFC pairing or NFC information detection are must-have features, the AirTag is the only option. For most people, Bluetooth-based proximity coupled with playing a sound on their Find My item is enough.
When used with the Find My network, like all other devices Apple has certified, the card will play an alert if it hasn’t been with its owner for between 8 and 24 hours, or if it detects that it’s moving with someone when the owner is not around. The map can also be detected using the Find My app in iOS or iPadOS, or Apple’s Android app, Tracker Detect.
The closest credit card-sized competitor is the Chipolo CARD Spot, which we’ve ranked at 4.5 stars. The primary difference? The Chipolo card has an estimated life of two years, and the company is offering a 50 percent coupon to replace it with a replacement card at the end of its life, as the battery is not user-replaceable.
There are other differences, most of which will not affect your choice:
Network: The Pebblebee Card can be activated on Apple’s Find My network, for global tracking, or with its own proximity tracking app. The Chipolo CARD Spot is dedicated to the Find My network.
Water resistance: Pebblebee says its card is IPX6 rated, which requires protection from a stream of water; the CARD Spot has the slightly less robust IPX5, which protects against splashes. This shouldn’t matter to most people.
Size and weight: The two card trackers are nearly identical in size and correspond to the dimensions of a business card at about 3.3 by 2.1 inches, but the Pebblebee is 0.1 mm thicker. Heaven! The Chipolo CARD Spot is also four ounces heavier: 0.63 oz. (18g) to 14g of the Pebblebee Card.
What it comes down to:
You can’t go wrong with the Pebblebee Card. It gets a slight edge over the Chipolo CARD Spot (also excellent) thanks to the Pebblebee Card’s rechargeable battery with a visible battery monitor, choice of tracking networks and the ability to switch between networks at any time with little fuss.