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The Story Behind the Real (And Fake) Names on Credit Cards

March 16, 2019
3 min read
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Before you apply for a new credit card, financial institutions have to fuel your interest. While those efforts obviously include outlining the benefits and rewards potential, there's another very simple piece of getting you to imagine holding that card in your hand: the name placeholder.

John Doe, Jane Doe or "Your Name Here" aren't exactly inspiring identities for marketing materials, so some banks have gotten a bit more creative with their card holder names. Here's a look at the identities that you may have seen etched on credit card sign-up offers in your mailbox or on your screen.

CF Frost

The legacy of CF Frost lives on through cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express Card. (Photo by The Points Guy.)

Who is this person that earned fame from appearing on American Express cards? The two-letter first name creates a bit of a James Bond-like aura around this individual, but it turns out that CF is not an international man of mystery. Charles F. Frost worked at Ogilvy and Mather, an advertising firm, in the 1960s, when the company worked on the American Express account.

CF has stood the test of time, according to Elizabeth Crosta, vice president of public affairs, corporate affairs and communications, American Express. More than 50 years later, you'll still find plenty of references to him on the American Express website. However, she added that customers will see a range of more than 100 names "to reflect the diversity of our customer base" in global marketing efforts.

D. Barrett

While Charles Frost managed to become an American Express icon without ever working at the actual company, D. Barrett — a name seen on Chase-branded credit cards — is an employee of the bank. According to Mary Jane Rogers, a managing director of communications at Chase, she is "a real person who was on our marketing team about 15 years ago when the name first appeared on our cards."

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D. Barrett is still a customer service leader at Chase. I hope she negotiated a bonus of a million Ultimate Rewards points in exchange for licensing her identity.

Chris L Martin

Wait, is this the Chris Martin who fronts Coldplay? Nope. Christopher Anthony John Martin, the singer, does not have an endorsement deal with Bank of America. It turns out that this Chris doesn't even have a real voice. Betty Reiss, a spokeswoman for BofA, told me that the gender-neutral name is a fictional identity has been appearing on the bank's card promotions for quite a while.

So while you won't be able to shake hands with Chris L Martin, you could potentially score enough cash back with the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card to go see the other Chris Martin in concert.

Ok, enough about other people's names. It's time to focus on yours. If you decide to change your name after marriage, you'll need to notify your bank — not to mention a lot of government agencies — about your switch. Check out The Ultimate Guide to Updating Travel Documents After a Name Change for all the information you need.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.