This post is as part of my series The Counterpoint,  where I present a contrarian view to some of the commonly held beliefs in the miles and points space.

 

We live in an age of social media. Researchers have been pointing out that the repetitive use of social media tends to make us more narcissistic. It’s all about how you look and feel. A lot of times the social media celebrities that we see have an ‘image’. It’s an image that they portray to the world. However, the reality may not always be the same. Very often, it’s actually to the contrary. So, is your new metallic credit card just the latest cool gimmick or is it really valuable?

Metallic Credit Card

A few years ago the question was, paper or plastic? Now, we can add metal to that question. Before we delve deeper, let’s have a look at what’s going on and why almost all ‘premium’ cards are made of metal, at least partially.

Rational v/s Emotional

Most of the metallic credit cards have a hefty annual fee. For example, the Capital One Venture has an annual fee of $95. On the higher end, the Business Platinum Card has an annual fee of $595.

Clearly, as credit card issuers increase fees on their cards, they’re looking to soften the blow. When an issuer increases fees, the rational part of our brain acts to tell us a dollar value. Consumer psychology research over the years has pointed out one thing. People are more likely to make decisions on emotion and then justify them by using rationality instead of the other way round.

You purchased an expensive Macbook Pro for $1,800? After you pick it up from the store, think about how many times you justify why it was a great ‘deal’ or why it was a great purchase for you. Even for products whose advertising isn’t primarily based on emotional appeal, the initial purchase trigger is emotion instead of reason.

Look and Feel

How does this apply to your shiny metallic credit card? Let’s say you got the Amex Platinum Card with the $550 annual fee. Amex tells you every step of the way after you’re approved as to how it was an awesome decision. They send the card in a package that looks stylish. The supporting materials and documents are carefully crafted and have a font that appeals to your eye.

By sending you a card that looks and seems awesome, they’re softening the blow. Amex is giving you every reason to feel great about your $595 purchase. The thick glowing metallic card which is heavier than other cards automatically makes you feel like you are now a ‘premium’ customer.

The key word here is feel. Brands play on your emotions to make you take your wallet out and pay. Then they soften the blow with pristine packaging, amazing customer service and benefits in order to keep your business.

Exclusivity

We’ve all seen those videos where people compare the weight of their metallic credit cards or whether they can cut vegetables. Jokes aside, customers buy premium brands in order to get exclusivity. A premium brand is defined as a brand that isn’t commonly seen, is more expensive than others and only few people are seen with it.

If you closely look at some of the recent marketing material from American Express following the annual fee increases on many of their cards, you’ll find clues about how they’re amping up their positioning as a premium brand.

 

Metallic Credit Card

Amex’s positioning screams exclusivity. Key words: Unique & Exceptional

The Pundit’s Mantra

If you work in a field that’s prominently customer facing, then that metallic credit card might be of great value. I have friends who work as sales managers and often take clients out on meals paid by their employer. Wearing a crisp clean business suit, carrying a shiny Rolex watch and a nice metallic credit is all a part of their job and the image they want to maintain in front of their clients.

Brands understand the emotional appeal of advertising over functional appeal. If you pick any major consumer facing brand, you’ll find that the emotional component in their marketing material always outweighs the functional or rational component. Credit cards are no different. They not only want to offer value to you, but they also want to look and feel as if they offer value. In a crowded market, metallic credit cards are just another gimmick that issuers are trying out in order to differentiate and stand out from the crowd.

What do you think about the value of metallic credit cards? Do you find them appealing or do you think they’re just a gimmick? Let us know in the comments section.

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