The metal card. The overnight delivery. The over-the-top packaging.
Go ahead and suck it up and admit that you simply love the difference in look and feel of the premium credit cards. Just how important is the aesthetics that accompany your brand new credit card? Maybe more than you think. From a consumer standpoint, the appeal is obvious. But from a marketing standpoint, it’s a little bit of genius involved in the delivery from the issuer to the eventual destination.
The financial industry is always looking for an edge that will make their products and services simply stand out from the competitors. More than that, the belief inside the strategy sessions is that if we can improve the look and feel of our card, maybe its more likely to be used. And if it can be done at a low price with high perceived value attached to it, then the whole portfolio thrives.
As a society, we value what is unique, and if not many people have something, the tendency is quite normal to want to show that uniqueness with pride. So, do consumers possibly use metal cards more than the typical plastics if given the choice? Debatable I would say. If you are of the churner population, you are probably more intent on making sure you achieve maximum benefit. So the look of a card, no matter how cool looking is of the fleeting sort until the new spend of the week is due. But to a typical 2-3 card per wallet consumer, that metal card could do a better job of representing “prestige” for lack of a better word.
Take this personal example to understand the appeal of the “heavy card”. My first experience with a metal card was the Chase Ritz Carlton Visa card. Even after dozens of cards in my possession, I will admit a certain admiration for using that card and handing it over to cashiers or waiters. Yes, quite superficial of me I know and I feel shame for having to admit my guilty pleasure. But I take pride in knowing there was someone out there just a little bit more awestruck than myself and that was my wife. So awestruck that I still have possession of that card locked away in a safe after my wife’s refusal that we would ever send it back for destruction.
Even with a number of metal or “heavy” cards since that enlightening moment, the Ritz remains. And even if the card itself didn’t have some magical appeal to it, the packaging coupled with the obligatory overnight delivery seemed to seal the deal. No longer are you receiving some terms and conditions and a few fliers enclosed with your card. Now you get the next day letter of approval, followed shortly by the Priority mailing of your package. Not letter…package. What was once a flier is now a book. The little information that I simply ignored in the past has become an excellent read of tremendous bathroom material.
Only for The Big Issuers
Being that my job falls in the financial services industry, specifically in how products and services are presented, these types of people…like me, are the exact group of folks we are looking for from the aesthetic side of things. This isn’t to suggest the nuts and bolts of a card don’t matter but the realization that ego exists when it comes to usage can be tempting for a provider to market. The harder part for institutions to overcome is the packaging on how the card is sent. It’s no surprise that the heavy hitters can make a bigger splash with the presentation of their card by using overnight deliveries, book-size packaging, etc. The smaller institutions simply can’t keep up with this additional spending so it can be an advantage. That being said, as we know, you pay for what you get and most of this fancy packaging techniques also come with hefty annual fees.
So yes, these metal cards provide us with a little bit of pride when we pay but that feeling will be all soon washed away as we approach a time when tap and pay will take precedent. My wife will certainly miss handing over a 2 lb card (kidding of course) but tapping the phone has been viewed as a novelty still where we live. In the end I still owe what I spend, so that metal card is just as good as many of the other cards in my wallet. But it sure feels good.