Are Credit Card Colors Still Status Symbols?

Forty years ago, in the early 1970s, less than 16% of the households in America owned a single credit card. By the year 2000, 67% of those families owned at least one if not more, and the competition among credit card companies had become fierce. One way to pull ahead of the pack was to attach status to certain cards through color design and associated privileges. Flashing a card with higher approved spending limits was a way of showing the world one’s financial success, and since a card is a small item, noticeability came from the assigned color.

The most popular color in American has been identified as blue, and it is no surprise that Chase has taken the connotation of wealth that comes with owning a sapphire, which happens to be frequently bluish in color, and created a popular, rich sounding, blue-colored credit card. Known as the Chase Sapphire, the very phrasing resounds of wealth and luxury. The card itself has no annual fee and offers a point system for each dollar spent. Points then can be redeemed in travel, gift cards, cash back and merchandise.

American Express a company that has managed to promote its very name as a status symbol has been listed by Fortune magazine as one of the 30 most admired companies in the world. It offers both credit cards and charge cards and accounts for 24% of the total volume of credit card transactions. Its very name is considered the 22nd most valuable brand in the world. Just owning an American Express charge card once implied a certain level of respectability and financial accomplishment.

The first or basic American Express charge card is the green card. Made to look like money, it implies instant available cash, “as good as the real thing.” Acquiring this card does not require excellent credit, but good credit ratings are necessary. Because a charge card is paid off in full each month and limits are based upon individual financial ratings, it is important to stay within limit guidelines and pay promptly until time has proven you worthy of higher limits. There is a yearly fee for this card.

It has been said that, “people treat you differently when they see you have a gold card.” This may have been more true years ago when less people were pulling these cards out of their wallets to pay for dining, hotels, shopping, and other expenses. Today, many people enjoy the gold or platinum cards because they are a step up from the basic green and the words and colors, gold and platinum, certainly sound wealthier. After all,they represent some of the most precious metals on the planet.

An American Express Gold card can get you better seats at a special event or tickets to a concert. It also has a yearly fee. The Platinum card has many more benefits. It represents both money and prestige. Flight upgrades, access to airport lounges, 24/7 concierge service and other travel perks make this a popular card, especially for those who travel extensively.

Finally, the premier status symbol is the American Express Black Centurion card. It resonates with power. Made out of titanium, its very weight carries symbolic reference, and black is the favorite color of most men and many business women. There is nothing plastic or cheap about this card, including the price to own one. However, for the less than 10,000 who do, the Centurion offers exclusivity and countless travel benefits that could make it worthwhile. While not everyone is impressed by the choice of credit card you carry, there are still many who do and will reward you with better service when you casually flash the right color.