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Your Take: Does a Gold Card Really Mean Anything?

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AMEX BlackI was watching a Frontline program, The Card Game, which talked about the recently passed CARD Act. It was broadcast in November 2009 but by then the regulations and rules that would take effect in March had already been written in stone. The first piece talks about Providian, a secured credit card company that was purchased by Washington Mutual (and then acquired by JP Morgan Chase when WaMu “failed”), and a cut of the commercial showed a consumer say – “people treat you differently when they see you have a gold card.” It was Providian’s “gold” secured card.

Does having a “gold” card really mean anything? Providian had a “gold” secured card. Secured cards are for people with poor credit looking to rebuild their credit. A gold version of that card doesn’t scream “affluence” and so I was surprised to hear that as a selling point. Then again, it’s well known that we decide on emotion and confirm with logic. Providian was appealing to the emotional side by saying a gold card told people you were a somebody and then appealing to their logical side by explaining how secured cards rebuild credit.

A gold card might have meant something many years ago but I think in today’s world, gold credit cards are no longer status symbols. The only notable exception is a black card, the American Express Black Centurion card. To get one you need to spend $250,000 a year, a one time fee of $5,000, and an annual fee of $2,500. It’s an expensive way to buy respect. 🙂

What do you think? Do all these gold, platinum, or black cards mean anything to you? If you’re someone who has been using credit for decades, how does today’s climate differ from, say, ten or twenty years ago?

(Photo: clemson)

{ 54 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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54 Responses to “Your Take: Does a Gold Card Really Mean Anything?”

  1. Diane says:

    Um….no. Why anyone would ever pay for this is a source of amazement to me.

  2. mikestreb says:

    I’ve got a black Discover card… They let me pick the color. Doesn’t mean anything what color your card is. Only thing that matters is when they swipe it and it doesn’t come up Declined.

  3. Chrysta says:

    My first credit card was a CapitalOne Visa Platinum. Because I had almost no credit history, it had a whopping $750 limit. Even though it was a “Platinum” card, I never felt I was treated better for using it. In fact, the response to the card is always quite underwhelming.

    I don’t consider credit cards a good indicator of your financial status. There are some people who are swayed my the implied exclusivity of this or that card, but usually they are either a) inexperienced with having and maintaining good credit, or b) socially insecure. I am neither, so my choice of credit cards works well for me. 🙂

  4. Marc says:

    Heck yeah, a Gold Card means something. It is Gold is it not?

  5. Max says:

    Maybe I’m a bit old fashion, but it seems to me that paying in cash is much more impressive than paying with a credit card, as far as appearances go.

    I mean, even if it’s gold, platinum, or whatever, it’s still a credit card, which is a line of credit, so it’s still paying with borrowed money, and that in itself doesn’t seem so impressive, but I don’t know.

    My boss had a Platinum card with a hefty annual fee, and he said he thought it impressed women when he paid for dinner with it on dates, but that just seems a little sad when you think about it.

    In most cases, the only person that sees your card is the cashier or waiter, unless you wave your card in everybody’s face as you pay for dinner, but then your apparent wealth would be overshadowed by your obnoxiousness.

    Unless the card is really made of actual gold, then it’s just another credit card and borrowed money in my book.

    • Steve says:

      The “Single Guy” says Platinum Cards count. I’ve noticed a different reception when I use the (Amex) Platinum (Charge Card). From the waitress who takes your card to the girl you took out on the date who is sneaking a peek at the card you are paying with. All companies call their cards Platinum, but to have a Platinum Charge Card Screams “Money” whether you like it or not. Anybody can get a Platinum credit MC or VISA, but to have a Platinum Charge Card is a WHOLE different story. First you have to have good credit to get one, and you obviously have to have disposable income to afford one. Single women do check these things out. It may be a little sad, but that’s just how the game plays out.

      • Greg says:

        I suggest avoiding woman that make judgments about you based on the charge card you carry. If they are that shallow they also are likely high-maintenance and needy.

  6. quibus rebus says:

    As many Banks proffer various designs and colors–including WFC stagecoaches–for their credit cards, why not just use AMEX Centurion design on another bank’s card retaining both the bank’s raised card number and also the magnetic strip? Merchants just swipe cards’ magnetic strips, so no merchant would notify AMEX of its design’s unauthorized use.

  7. RichC says:

    Who am I trying to impress with a gold card, the waiter? Meaningless. I use my debit card most of the time. Use the credit card occasionally to keep the score alive but pay it off every month.

  8. Retired @ 50 says:

    Gold Card? Anyone can get a gold card. Hell, my dog has a gold card with a $10K limit. It just means you can breath.

    Me? I carry the Visa Plutonium Card. I get respect wherever I go…even McDonalds!

  9. JoNathan says:

    I just got my Visa Animantium card in the mail.

  10. teedee says:

    gold cards mean nothing – hell platinum cards mean nothing – just that you spend a lot and want to spend it on a card – good for you.
    I had an Amex gold card about 20 years ago. I gave it up – I got tired of paying extra for it. The benefits at that time were I believe trip insurance and something w/car rental, and maybe purchase protection. It wasn’t worth it to me.
    When I am at work, I don’t care how the person pays for their purchase – I just want the purchase approved.

  11. Funny guy says:

    Actually people look at me when I use my Star Trek Credit Card. And from what I understand you can no longer get one.

    Sometimes I’ll tell people, we’ll let Captain Kirk pick up the tab. Its hilarious.

    However, I do like the PenFed Amex Card. It’s black, and it has the little Pentagon logo. I’m not really about the rewards, I just like the interesting designs.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I have an American Express credit card, but it’s green, and it’s also my COSTCO membership card with my picture on it. I earn a couple of hundred dollars every year in credit, and get a check in February, and we really don’t a “fee” for this.

  13. flash22 says:

    I’m sorry sir, your Gold plated credit card inlaid with diamonds has been declined….. We will accept your ugly green and purple prepaid debit card if you would like to use that one sir….

    Today there is a bunch of gold, silver and platinum prepaid and gift cards out there. Just go to your local drugstore, by a Greendot Visa card for $4.95, load it with a money pack and you’ve got your goldcard! Some of us did an experiment a while back and used several re-loadable prepaid cards to see how we would be treated. I used a Capital One prepaid gold MasterCard. I used it at restruants, clothing stores and a higher class hotel, I wasn’t treated any different. I went back to the high class men’s store with a Vision Premier silver and blue prepaid Visa card and the clerk didn’t blink an eye. Try it yourself, get a prepaid Visa/MasterCard from Wal*art load $200 on it and use it to buy a little something at M*cy’s! then tell me how you are treated. These days credit, debit, prepaid doesn’t matter to the merchant as long as you have the available funds.

    While some big box stores color code their store cards to identify what kind of customer you are, the clerk doesn’t see the card until just before you leave when you check out. I walk in the store, nobody knows who I am or if I have a history of big spending with the store or even if I’ve ever been in the store before — they find out if I have a preferred customer card AFTER the floor person has made the sale. You also want to keep in mind the waiter doesn’t see your black card until after you’ve had crappy service. In the future, show your black card when you enter and ask if you can have a better table!!!!!! It would sure be nice to know who the big spenders and big tippers are before they order!

    Don’t forget, Food Stamps, Unemployment, rebates etc. all come on plastic these days — if you don’t have good enough credit to get a bank account, your paycheck just might come on a debit card as more employers have stopped issuing paper checks.

    It’s also been a proven fact most clerks don’t bother to check the signature on the back of your card — they are supposed to compare signatures when you sign the slip, but often they don’t….they’ve even given back the card along with the slip to sign! They didn’t check my signature, how close are they really looking at my card?

    In short, your cards terms, credit limit, annual fee, rewards are more important than color.

  14. charge it says:

    Does anyone remember the manual addressograph credit card imprinters. Back in the 1980’s when I got my first credit card, you handed the salesperson your card, they placed it in this machine with a slip of paper and slid a bar over the top, this left an imprint of your card on the 3 part slip which you then signed. In those days if you had plastic in your wallet it was a credit card. Most merchants verified your card manually by calling it in over the phone and then they address you by name, “Thank you Mr. _____”

    Today you go to the 24 hour discount store giant and even in a small store you are greeted by 8 self checkout lanes. Go there after midnight and you might find 2 people upfront talking to each other not really caring if their are customers in the store. Swipe your card, sign the pad “Not Authorized” and see what happens. The person upfront who looks like they are watching never checks my card.

    Cards aren’t checked closely by the employee like they used to be, so no, in most cases the color or type of card you have doesn’t matter, however, it might make you feel important to carry a certain type of card.

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