Here at Credit-Land.com, we usually evaluate credit cards on the basis of rewards offered, APRs, promotional offers and annual fees. What we usually don`t rate is the, how shall we say – cuteness? – of the credit cards we review. However, it seems that there truly is an award for every industry, and the manufacturers of plastic cards aren`t about to be left behind.
On April 17 in Miami, Florida, the credit-card equivalent of People Magazine`s “Most Beautiful” list was issued by The International Card Manufacturers Association (ICMA) at their annual trade show. Called “The Élan Awards for Card Manufacturing Excellence,” their tagline is “Prestige. Distinction. Acclaim.”
In fact, the ICMA does not only cover the credit card industry, but the entire plastic card industry. They are “a worldwide non-profit association of plastic card manufacturers and personalizers” and they remind us that their industry “manufactures an estimated six billion cards annually. That is about one card for every man, woman and child on earth.”
Plastic, Plastic Everywhere
How many pieces of plastic do you carry in your wallet, anyway? Although experts predict that technological advances in near-field communications and wireless technology may soon cause the extinction of cash, credit cards, and wallets altogether, we are not yet nearly at that point. In my wallet, I`ve got at least six store loyalty cards, two library cards, a driver`s license, three credit cards, and a debit card – and that`s just what I can remember off the top of my head. The ICMA covers all of these, and they give awards for excellence in six different categories of plastic:
- Gift Card
- Retail/Gas Card
- Government ID
- Access/Control ID (such as an ID card to enter a secure building)
- Secure Financial
In addition, they give an award for Unique Innovation as well as Judge`s Choice and People` Choice.
And the Winners Are . . .
In the Unique Innovation category, the Ritz Carlton Rewards Visa Signature Card from Chase took top honors.What makes it so special? It may not look like much in the picture, but this card has a thin layer of metal between the plastic, giving it an authoritative weight when it`s pulled out of a wallet and handed over. The gold embossed numbers are done with laser technology, not punched from behind, giving it a glittering air of importance. For an annual fee of $395, elite cardholders expect no less.
Also in the Unique Innovation category, the Chase Disney Tinkerbell card got a mention as a finalist. Is it her sweet smile, her big eyes, or the glittery wings that put her on the list?
Whatever Tinkerbell did to make the cut as a finalist, it apparently wasn’t enough to compete with her friend Mickey, who won first prize for Best Secure Financial Card. His Chase Disney Sorcerer Card was singled out for his glossy gloves and smattering of pixie dust.
If you`d like to carry an award-winner in your own wallet, read our review of the prize-winning Chase Disney Visa card, or check out the full list of winners at the ICMA Élan Awards site.