Metal Cards and Their Role in Modern Banking

Banks are always seeking new solutions for their customers as a point of differentiation. The most innovative have adopted trends that appeal to millennial and Gen Z populations in a bid to meet their demand for cutting-edge innovations.

For most young people, mobile banking is the primary form of banking and cards provide the only tangible part of their banking experience. This creates the need for cards with a touch of personalization and panache. Metal cards that can be customized to suit individual tastes offer the perfect solution.  

Bank of America, Chime, and Apple Pay have Metal Cards

What are Metal Cards?

Credit and debit cards have long been vehicles for payments across the world. In the last couple of years, banks have increasingly allowed consumers to personalize their cards, a move that has led to the creation of a range of unique designs. Today, credit and debit cards are fashionable pieces. Customers are using them as symbols of their status, lifestyle preferences and aspirations.

Out of the thousands of eye-catching, high-end, credit and debit card options available with various designs and structures, metal cards stand apart as the ultimate in style and luxury. They are not a new invention but have evolved greatly over the years to meet market expectations.  

Metal credit cards are made of copper, brass, titanium, brushed stainless steel, gold, or platinum. Some are made of both plastic and metal. The hybrid design is usually a smart way to add the benefits of contactless payment provided by the card’s PVC back while still maintaining the metallic feel and weight. Luxury embellishments that can be added to a metallic card include gold plating, crystals and embedding of diamonds.       

Two decades ago, metal credit cards were a reserve for the upper class in society. There were only a handful made available for the big spenders. Today, their use has trickled down to the average consumer. Although they are still relatively rare, metal credit cards have become an attractive choice for many people largely because of what they symbolize.

What Sets Metal Credit Cards Apart?

Metal credit cards are a class apart. The current version debuted in 1999 when American Express introduced the Centurion Card also known as the Black Card. This card became the ultimate status symbol for making payments as it was only available to the elite. The last two decades have seen the emergence of new players in the credit card industry offering metallic card options even to consumers without necessarily deep pockets.

In addition to being a status symbol, metal credit cards are also heavier, sturdier, and more durable than their plastic cousins. They are also harder to destroy and information on them does not fade over time. However, when it comes to functionality, there is no difference between the two. A consumer still needs to swipe, tap, or insert the chip of a metallic credit card the same way as a plastic card. Unfortunately, fully metal cards cannot be used to make contactless payments. 

What Banks Offer Metal Credit Cards?

Invitation-only metallic credit cards like the famed Centurion Card from American Express are still popular but there are plenty of other options offered by both legacy banks and digital banks today. Players in the credit card industry offering metallic cards include: America Express, Chime, Apple, and Capital One. Each card has unique features and a list of advantages and drawbacks. Whenever in the market for a metallic credit or debit card, there are lots of reviews on-line of different metal cards for digital banks (see one here).

It’s typically not possible to request the metal version of a card from an issuer if it’s not normally available in that form. Some third-party companies however convert plastic cards to metal at a fee. This conversion however can compromise the security features of the card.

How to Pick a Metallic Card

Before applying for a metallic card, it is important to consider the available options. Factors to be considered when deciding include; 

  • The size of the welcome bonus: Welcome bonuses are typically tied to minimum spend requirements. To earn a large welcome bonus, one must hit a high minimum spending amount. Chasing a large bonus may result in higher-than-normal spending.
  • The earning structure of the card: The card’s rewards should match up with a user’s habits. For a regular traveler,  the best choice of metallic card should be one that pays elevated rewards on flights and hotels.
  • Fees charged: Most card issuers charge monthly or annual fees for metallic cards. It makes better sense to pick a card that offers enough rewards to offset the carrying cost. 
  • Redemption plan of the benefits: Most metallic cards have perks for their users. It is sensible to pick a card whose perks will be used. It is also important to consider the unique redemption plan of each card. Make sure you can get value for each point  redeemed.       

Final Selection

Over the years Metal credit and debit cards may have become cheaper and less exclusive but their appeal remains thanks to several perks. All these perks come at a cost though. Most banks charge a monthly or annual fee for metal credit and debit cards.

Before making a metallic credit or debit card a rugged addition to the customer’s wallet, it is important to consider all the pros and cons of owning one. The metal factor should only be an added benefit. Most people can make do with plastic cards and for those who love mobile apps, cards are an unnecessary burden.

Additional Resources on Mobile Banking:

  1. Differences of Traditional, Crypto, & Mobile Banking
  2. List of Free Top Mobile Banking Apps For iPhone (iOs) 
  3. Where To Get A Metal Credit Card like Apple Pay
  4. Scotland Bank Made World’s 1st Mobile Banking App
  5. Top Security Issues in Mobile Banking
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