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Nowadays, credit card issuers try to make having a card in your wallet an experience — concierge services, airport lounge access, hotel status, travel credits and free Wi-Fi make a card much more than piece of plastic with a line of credit attached to it. A big part of this “experience” can also be a sophisticated physical design that makes you proud to hand the card over to merchants (not to mention impress a potential client, or to woo a special someone).
While many cards today have good artwork, a truly unique card will also be made of a higher-end material than plastic or perhaps shun the standard design of the name and account number on the front. Here are eight examples, presented in no particular order:
1. Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
This clear plastic cash-back card has a smart-looking blue center with an EMV chip on the upper-left side. Expect a few curious and perhaps even skeptical looks from cashiers who’ve never seen a clear card before.
Sign-up Bonus: 10% cash back on Amazon.com purchases for the first six months of account opening up to $200, plus $150 cash back after you make $1,000 in purchases on the card within the first three months of account opening.
Earning Rates/Benefits: The Blue Cash Preferred features 6% cash back on purchases at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year) and 3% back at US gas stations and at select US department stores, in addition to 1% back on all other purchases.
Annual Fee: $95
2. Mastercard Gold Card
This 24k gold-plated/carbon-made card is certainly the heaviest I’ve ever held and definitely gets the attention of anyone who takes it at a store or restaurant.
Bonus: The 50,000-point bonus is no longer available.
Earning Rates/Benefits: The card is essentially a flat 2% cash-back card with 1 point earned for every dollar spent. Each point can be redeemed toward a statement credit of 2 cents. The card does have a $200 annual airline credit for qualifying purchases and a $100 Global Entry application fee credit, and you also receive luxury gifts. I received a gold-plated Cross pen with my name engraved on the side. Without a bonus, however, it’s difficult to justify the $995 annual fee.
Annual Fee: $995
3. Chase Sapphire Reserve
The metallic alloy card has certainly made waves this year thanks to its hefty sign-up bonus and fantastic travel perks. The beautiful blue Reserve card is certain to get attention every time you hand it over.
Sign-up Bonus: 100,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening
Earning Rates/Benefits: This card earns you a stellar 3 points per dollar on all travel and dining purchases and 1 point per dollar on all other spending. The Reserve also offers the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each in value toward travel through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Cardholders also get a $300 annual travel credit, Priority Pass Select lounge membership, $100 Global Entry fee reimbursement, primary car rental insurance, and other travel protections like delayed baggage insurance.
Annual Fee: $450
The newly updated Ritz-Carlton product is as a sleek as ever with its jet-black scheme and the classy Ritz-Carlton logo. The heavy metallic card is a personification of the hotel brand in your wallet.
Sign-up Bonus: Two complimentary nights at a participating Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton property after $4,000 of purchases on the card within the first three months of account opening.
Earning Rates/Benefits: As a cardholder you’ll earn 5 points per dollar on Ritz-Carlton and partner hotels stays; 2 points per dollar on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, and at car rental agencies and restaurants; and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Perks include a $300 annual travel credit for qualifying airline purchases, a $100 on-property credit for paid stays of two nights or longer, a $100 airfare discount courtesy of Visa Infinite and automatic Gold elite status during your first account year.
Annual fee: $450
5. Citi Prestige
The Prestige bucks the typical card format and moves your account number to the back, leaving the front open for a unique and somewhat mesmerizing design.
Sign-up Bonus: 40,000 points after $4,000 in spend in the first three months of account opening.
Earning Rates/Benefits: Now’s the time to get the Prestige to maximize benefits before planned changes take effect next year. The card offers a $250 air travel credit each year and a 4th Night Free hotel benefit for any stays booked through the Citi Prestige concierge. You’ll earn 3x points on air travel and hotels, 2x points on dining and entertainment and 1x points on everything else.
Annual Fee: $450
6. American Express Centurion
This black, anodized titanium card sets the bar for luxury in the credit card world — and it doesn’t hurt that it has a reputation of being for the very wealthy only. Handing this card over is sure to impress anyone on the receiving end.
Bonus: None and no official application link. The card is by invitation only.
Earning Rates/Benefits: This card provides a wealth of benefits to those who are lucky enough to hold it. Delta Platinum status, Hilton Diamond status, and a personalized concierge could certainly come in handy, but you can receive most of the other benefits with less expensive premium credit cards.
Annual Fee: $2,500 ($7,500 initiation fee)
The thick, metallic blue cornerstone of any travel hacker’s wallet impresses with every swipe. At $95 a year (after the first year), it’s proof that you don’t need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to hold an impressive card.
Sign-up Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Earning Rates/Benefits: Earn 2x points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. Redeem points for 1.25 cents each toward travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Transfer points to 11 travel partners including Southwest, Hyatt and United Airlines.
Annual Fee: $0 for first year, then $95
This Palladium Card replacement looks almost identical to its predecessor (pictured above). If President Obama carries it, it must be worthy of the most wealthy and powerful pockets in the country.
Sign-up Bonus: 100,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.
Earning Rates/Benefits: The card features the same benefits as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and offers little reason to upgrade except for the novelty (and bragging rights). According to rumors, you usually need at least $10,000,000 in assets to be a J.P. Morgan Private Bank client and get approved for the card.
Annual Fee: $450
Having a fancy-looking card makes for a great conversation piece and adds to the experience of being a cardholder. It often brings up the subject of points and miles with many of the merchants I hand the cards to or friends who see me pay — and any chance for the TPG team to talk points and miles is a wonderful thing!
Which cool-looking cards do you have you in your wallet?
With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards