I receive compensation for many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).
When I wrote about the sharia-compliant credit card in the UAE with a built-in compass so that cardmembers would always know what direction to pray, I said that feature seemed a bit much. And then I realized it helped to solve a practical problem that would give a reason for customers to carry it — and keep it top of wallet.
There aren’t very many practical problems that credit cards can solve beyond payments, rewards, and bundled benefits. And the set of problems a credit card can address are limited further by those where it would offer a unique solution that would make a customer’s life easier than any alternative. A compass in a credit card, for someone that might carry a standalone compass, is a solution. What solutions would be bundled into plastic that cannot be duplicated by a smartphone?
Then I was reminded of the 1990 Dana Carvey film, Opportunity Knocks. He’s a con man who has talked his way into a job at a business making bathroom supplies. As a Vice President he’s expected to revolutionize the way they market their products and boosts sales. On the spot he comes up with this:
Credit card companies can put any message they (and their co-brand partners) want on their cards. Because they make ’em.
You’ve got to make your own card if you want it to be cool.
Even good looking cards — and I think several of the ones I carry in my wallet qualify — are missing the opportunity for a marketing message.
Recently a frequent flyer told me they write with a sharpie on each card what to use the product for. That’s helpful to them, it’s especially helpful to their partner.
A credit card could contain its unique selling proposition on the card itself.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card could actually say that it earns 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide on the card itself.
The Citi Prestige Card could say 3X on air and hotel, 2X on restaurants and entertainment.
That forces the card issuer to condense down verbiage like,
- Earn 5 points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year. Earn 2 points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases-with no limit to the amount you can earn.
But that’s also the point — they should take the marketing of their product seriously, and market on the product. That would be doing consumers a service and reminding them to spend.
And why not put on the front of the Platinum Card by American Express “this card gets you into airport lounges” and even say Delta SkyClub access on it and Centurion Lounges as well?
American Express Centurion Lounge Houston
Credit cards shouldn’t just be attractively designed. They should tell you when to use them, or why to use them. The card itself is a lost marketing opportunity, and one that could benefit consumers.