Sorry -- I'm afraid I fooled you with the title of this article. I'm not going to tell you which credit card will serve you best, helping you minimize fees and maximize cash and rewards. (Though you can -- and should -- gather lots of helpful tips in our Credit Center.)
Instead, I'm here to report on something more frivolous -- but interesting. There's a trend afoot in to make credit cards more visually appealing. I'd normally scoff at such a notion, but I must confess that, well, ever since I've been using my Motley Fool credit card, I keep getting oohs and aahs and favorable comments from cashiers and bystanders. I've even been asked by one woman how she could get one for herself. I've learned that looks can count in the world of little plastic cards.
So which companies are doing what in this arena? Here are a few notable developments, gleaned from creditcards.com:
(NYSE:AXP)is testing a "'Butterfly" credit card which folds in half and pops out of a silver case connected to a key ring.
(NYSE:JPM)is targeting sci-fi enthusiasts with a Battlestar Galactica card. It's bright red and identifies the bearer as a "Galactica Fleet Member."
American Express made waves a while back with its transparent "Blue" credit card. It's now licensing that technology to other credit purveyors. Apparently, cardholders hold onto their Blue cards longer than some other versions, and use it more often than their other cards.
Also in the works are scratch-and-sniff cards (imagine the pleasing scent of coffee wafting from your wallet -- or, if you're a bit of a weirdo, the smell of glue). Cards bearing your favorite perfume's aroma are also being discussed.
Some cards may soon not even feel like the cards we're used to. In development are textured cards, and even a titanium card that will impress others when you heave it out of your pocket.
As consumers, we can note this development and keep an eye out for cards that please us, visually, as we may enjoy using them in the future. But remember to be sensible, making sure that any card you sign up for is right for you, with no annual fee, low interest rates, generous rewards, and other good features. And don't start charging more than usual, simply because you love whipping out your spiffy new card.
As investors, we might pay attention to which cards are getting the best reception, as they might deliver greater bottom-line profits to their issuing companies. Other trends to note include cell phones that work like credit cards and the proliferation of business locations where you can charge purchases without having to swipe your card, including places like McDonald's
And finally, learn much more about the surprisingly interesting credit card industry in our Credit Center, which also features tips on getting out of debt, along with guidance on how to manage your credit effectively. Really. I mean it. There's some great stuff in our Credit Center, and it's all free reading.
The following articles can also help you:
- The 8 Commandments of Credit
- The Best Low-Interest Credit Card?
- I Caught You Looking!
- Urban Credit Legends Exposed!
- $24 Billion to Card Companies ... for What?
- Sneaky Credit Card Tactics