Credit cards have evolved in many ways over time. In recent year, the physical aesthetic elements have changed as well. The teams in charge of marketing at banks have really put a heavier focus on what their products look like. Our experts have noticed this trend as well and we talk with them about this as the subject of the 32nd Roundup:
"Which credit card do you find to be the most attractive looking design?"
Ben Luthi - Credit card expert and a freelance personal finance writer.
I'm partial to the Platinum Card from American Express because its design is simple but timeless. Just a quick glance tells you the card is prestigious, and the switch to a metal card a couple of years ago magnifies that.
I almost always get compliments when I use the card because of how it looks and feels. And while it's not my top-of-wallet card, it's my favorite one to have in my hand.
I'm also a big fan of the new Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card's design. It's not made of metal but it looks like it is, and the bright color makes it stand out among other cards in your wallet. I wouldn't be surprised if this is what Capital One had in mind when designing it.
But while it's nice to have a beautiful card in your wallet, I'd consider it a secondary perk instead of the main focus. It's better to get a card that offers bonus rewards that match your spending habits or other significant perks.
Also, note that some card issuers allow you to change the design of your card. So if you don't like what you see, you can choose something else instead.
Shawn Coomer - Founder and Managing Editor of Miles to Memories
As a credit card expert my primary motivation when choosing a card is to ensure I earn the most, however I will admit that aesthetics can play a part as well. While I will generally always choose a card that earns more, it’s always a nice bonus if it looks attractive as well. For that reason I have chosen the revamped Citi Prestige card as the most attractively designed credit card on the market.
A few years ago Citi reworked the design language of all of their cards including the Prestige. This facelift involved changing the design to a more modern aesthetic along with moving the numbers to the back side of the card. In my opinion this design brings a modern look to all of Citi’s cards, but Prestige has a few things that take it to the next level.
As Citi’s premium travel card, the Prestige received an upgrade to metal in 2017. Additionally, its black design feels upscale and premium. For these reasons it is the best looking card in my opinion, but most importantly it is a great card to keep with 3X and 5X bonus categories, a travel credit, lounge access and more.
Emily Guy Birken - Milwaukee-based former educator and freelance writer specializing in personal finance.
Credit cards used to be pretty utilitarian items. They generally came in the colors of the banks that issued them, and there was nothing aesthetically pleasing about swiping your card at the store. But then issuers got wise to the fact that allowing cardholders to express their individuality through their credit cards is a great way to increase credit card spending. Due to something called the IKEA effect, where individuals value something more if they worked to create it, designing or choosing your credit card image can make you more attached to both your card and the bank.
In addition, if you have a fun image on your card--whether that's a picture of your adorable kitten, a pretty Hawaiian sunset, or the logo of your favorite basketball team--you're more likely to want to show it off. (That is, use it.) This is why having a card with an attractive design is a double-edged sword, especially if you struggle with credit card debt.
That being said, an attractive credit card is an interesting conversation-starter at the checkout. As a former cashier, I can tell you that it was lovely chatting with customers about the images and designs on their cards. It also can give you a sense of pride about your card and your spending.
Andy Shuman - Writer for travel and personal finance websites who blogs at www.lazytravelers.net
I think “Designer” credit cards became a “thing” after Chase Sapphire Preferred. I haven’t had CSP for the last couple of years, but it was revolutionary for its time. That blue metal card was really cool, and the design was striking. Metal credit cards were a novelty those days, but the feature that I liked best about CSP: it wasn’t heavy. You could feel the metal, but it wasn’t thick and massive. I received a number of compliments from cashiers and restaurant staff when it was still new. I would say the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the most, if not the most beautiful credit card ever.
Chase Sapphire Reserve also looks beautiful, but I’ve never held one in my hands. Wells Fargo Propel is gorgeous too, and it’s metal – a rarity for a no-annual-fee card. But my current favorite is Amex Gold Rose. I like it better (design-wise) than Amex Platinum. It looks really cool but not overwhelming.
The truth is, though, “designer” cards are not the novelty anymore they once were. Everyone has seen them, so the magic is mostly gone. Still, there is nothing wrong about having an extraordinarily beautiful thing doing ordinary work. Can’t hurt.
Jason Steele - Founder of the credit card media conference CardCon as well as a credit card/travel expert.
I used to think the Chase Sapphire Reserve was attractive, but no I find it to be so dark that I frequently forget to take it out of the folio when I’m dining, especially in a dark restaurant. So from a utilitarian perspective, I find the Capital One Savor card to be great, as it was actually designed to be easy to see in a low-light environment.
That said, I hold both the Amex Platinum and Business Platinum cards, both of which are the heaviest and seem to be the most impressive to hold. A close second is the new Amex Gold card with limited edition rose gold color. From the pictures, I thought it would be pink and a bit too feminine for me. But in person, it’s just a subtle shade of gold that doesn’t jump out like the standard gold card.