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Credit Cards

What Are the Different Types of Credit Card Designs?

Customized credit card designs are a fun way to show your personality. They can make running errands and paying bills more fun and bring a smile to your face. 

Depending on your financial institution, you can choose from various card materials and other customization options. Explore several design choices, and find out how to choose the best credit card for your needs. 

In this guide:

Credit card materials

One decision regarding credit card design is the material. No matter what credit card you choose, the dimensions are always the same. 

But you can choose from several materials to reflect your personality. 

Plastic

Plastic is the most common credit card material. Financial institutions create over 6 billion plastic cards each year. Made primarily of PVC, these cards are sturdy and durable. They’re also waterproof, making this a good option for people on the go.

The downside is that plastic cards are rarely recycled, and burning them can produce toxic chemicals. 

If you’re committed to more sustainable materials, you may consider other options for your credit and debit cards.

Metal

Metal credit cards are becoming more common. They’re often positioned as a luxurious alternative to plastic credit cards, so you may need a better credit score to qualify. You may also pay an annual fee for better perks and rewards. 

We’ve researched five popular metal credit cards and the materials they’re made from:

  • American Express Platinum Card: Stainless steel
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve Card: Mixed blend of metals
  • Mastercard Titanium Card: Brushed stainless steel and carbon
  • Mastercard Gold Card: 24-karat plated stainless steel and carbon
  • Mastercard Black Card: Coated stainless steel and carbon

Source: LuxuryCard.com

Wood

Sustainability-minded consumers will appreciate one of the newest trends in credit card materials: wood. This up-and-coming addition isn’t widely available yet but could catch on thanks to the sleek design and ability to recycle.

Mastercard offers a wooden debit card called Treecard, made from a blend of sustainably sourced wood and recycled plastic bottles. No monthly service fee applies, and accounts are FDIC-insured, just like any other mainstream debit card.

Source: Treecard.org

Why does the material of my credit card matter?

You can choose your credit card materials based on several reasons. Plastic is the most common, especially for more basic credit cards. The downside is the environmental impact of poor disposal options.

Card issuers often reserve metal cards for upper-tier rewards programs. They may look sleeker, but in addition to stricter eligibility requirements, many metal cards come with an annual fee. If you don’t maximize your rewards, the cost may not be worth it. 

Another downside of metal credit cards is that some don’t have the “tap to pay” option and only have a magnetic strip. If this feature is essential, ensure it’s available for the card you’re considering. 

Credit card customization

Your favorite material isn’t the only way to customize your credit card. Card companies offer more opportunities than ever to express yourself and have the best-looking credit card available.

Advocacy and nonprofit organizations

Some credit cards allow you to support causes and organizations you care about. Available options include:

  • Green America Visa Platinum: With this credit card, a percentage of every purchase goes toward supporting social justice and environmental sustainability causes.  
  • Aspiration Zero: This card supports the environment and carbon neutrality by planting a tree with every purchase. 
  • FutureCard Visa: This card gives you extra cash-back rewards when you make environmentally friendly purchases, such as public transportation, bicycles, scooters, electric charging, and plant-based meats. 

Athletics

Showing off your team spirit is another customization option for credit cards, whether you support a specific professional team or college athletic program. Many of these cards don’t include an extra cost, but they might have a different rewards structure you should evaluate. 

For instance, you may earn extra cash back or rewards points for buying specific league tickets rather than on more general purchases.

Popular nationwide options include:

Local banks and credit unions may also have credit card branding options for your favorite nearby collegiate teams. 

Characters

Fans of animated and other fictional characters have options to explore when designing their credit card. You may be limited in how you earn rewards, so be sure the terms are worth the aesthetics.

Popular credit card character options include:

  • Disney Visa Credit Card: Choose from multiple design options through Chase Bank
  • Credit Card Skins: Use CUCU Covers or a similar company to customize a skin that sticks to your card in seconds. Options include characters such as Hello Kitty and anime favorites.

Personalized credit cards

Some banks offer customers the option to customize their designs or choose from a curated selection of images. Wells Fargo, for instance, has its own online Card Design Studio Service, which is free for eligible cardholders. If you provide your image, you must own it or have the owner’s permission to use it.

Another option is the Platinum Credit Card from American Express. This card lets you choose from two current artists: botanical designs by Kehinde Wiley and abstract designs by Julie Mehretu.

Is credit card customization an important option?

Customization is just one feature to consider when choosing a credit card. Be sure to review the terms to make sure all the card features work for you.

Interest rate

The interest rate, also called an annual percentage rate (APR), is one of the most critical terms of any credit card. This charge applies if you don’t pay off your card at the end of each statement period. 

Fees

Potential fees to check for with any credit card include an annual fee, late payment fee, and balance transfer fee. 

Rewards

Check what type of rewards you accumulate and at what rate. Many credit cards allow you to earn points based on a percentage of your spending. 

Branded cards sometimes offer higher rates in relevant categories (such as sports tickets or Disney purchases). If you don’t spend much in those categories, the customized card may not be worth it.

Can I change my credit card design after I get the card?

It depends on the card issuer. Most financial institutions offer free updates, but you may be subject to a waiting period before you’re eligible. If you’re unsure, ask your card issuer before applying. 

Another alternative is to opt for card skins, which stick to the same card. You have to pay for each one, but it’s an inexpensive option with the most flexibility. 

Choose the best credit card for your spending habits

It can be fun to pick out your card design, but avoid making that your main priority above more critical factors. 

Consider your spending habits and what card features will benefit you the most. If you regularly pay off your balance in full, focus on the best rewards cards. If you tend to carry over a balance, opt for the lowest APR.