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Your Take: Does a Gold Card Really Mean Anything?

I was watching a Frontline program, The Card Game [3], 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 [4] 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 [5])