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I see that many fancy credit card are heavier than the typical credit cards. E.g. on https://www.uscreditcardguide.com/the-most-heavy-credit-cards-list/#3AmEx_Platinum_18g (mirror) it seems that the heaviest credit cards are geared toward customers who are wealthier than average, or willing to pay a high annual fee. It's surprising to me as I prefer to have a light wallet.

What's the upside of having a heavy credit card?

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    It may have more to do with the bank's idea of the card's prestige (this is the only card you'll need to carry, so it can be as massive as 3 normal cards) than consumer preferences – Ben Voigt Feb 3 at 18:42
  • I'm not sure why the question and all the 4 answers so far get downvoted here. – Franck Dernoncourt Feb 4 at 4:47
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Small things like cards can feel light, flimsy and fragile - cheap, disposable. Making the card heavier gives it a better hand feel - makes it feel heavy, durable, resilient, luxurious, valuable. Basically, it's the same reason resumes and invitations are printed on heavier paper: to make something seem more valuable than it is, so people buy more of it.

  • To truly be "durable" or "resilient" banks really need to improve the magnetic stripe, not the card itself. – Ben Voigt Feb 3 at 18:44
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    @BenVoigt Don't get me wrong ; I'm not saying they're actually more durable or resilient. I'm saying people instinctively believe this about small things (heavier means more valuable) and marketers exploit this for profit. – Patrick87 Feb 3 at 18:46
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    I guess they are more likely to survive being used to open locked doors – Ben Voigt Feb 3 at 18:52
  • @BenVoigt and make the embossing tougher, so your card doesn't wear out so quick from all those chi-chunk machines. Speaking of that, could they get better carbon paper so you don't have to push so hard? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 3 at 20:14
  • @Harper: "All those chi-chunk machines"? If your point was that magnetic readers are nearly obsolete, that's a false equivalence: magnetic stripes wear off with types of usage that don't involve reading the magnetic data -- they don't suddenly last 10x as long simply because 90% of transactions now use the chip. – Ben Voigt Feb 3 at 20:19
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What's the upside of having a heavy credit card?

They are a status symbol. With so many plastic cards something that looks and feels fancy is a nice way to differentiate the "high end" credit cards. As with most trends they are now becoming more common on less prestigious cards.

They offer no practical upside in my opinion, they are not more durable in any meaningful way.

Early credit cards didn't have mag-stripes or chips for reading, so metal cards were actually practical over paper cards at the time, but now it's just a look/feel/status thing.

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Many of the "heavy" cards carry benefits to holders of the card even when it is not used for a transaction. For example, some Amex cards include access to Centurion lounges.

The heavier/more substantial card may be harder to counterfeit (vs plastic ones which are produced by every bank and even in some branches -- the equipment clearly is widely available and low cost), which in turn makes it more likely to be accepted on inspection without actually looking up the card in an online database.

Removing the lookup step makes taking advantage of these privileges slightly faster and more convenient, which is a minor benefit to the holder.

  • Good point, i wonder to what extent heavier cards are less counterfeited, as they may attract more interest since they are more likely to access a larger amount of money. – Franck Dernoncourt Feb 3 at 18:56
  • Centurion lounge has a check-in desk, where they check card and boarding pass. Your name doesn't have to be on a card (corporate cards work). The notion that heft adds to a card's security seems a bit silly. – Hart CO Feb 3 at 19:15
  • @HartCO difficulty or unlikeliness of counterfeiting adds to a card's security. If someone clones stripe data (say, because it is 2006), why put it on a $20 card blank (in their low quantities) when a $2 blank wil suffice? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 3 at 20:17
  • @Harper You don't need to make a realistic looking Amex Platinum card, you could just create a standard Amex card with the info from the platinum card. Unless the purpose of the fraudulent card is just to gain access to airport clubs, there is no security benefit to a heavier card (if lounge access was your goal, you'd need matching fake ID good enough to get past TSA in addition to your convincing fake card in order to gain access). There are so many card variants that distinguishing characteristics are not very helpful. – Hart CO Feb 3 at 20:41
  • @FranckDernoncourt "i wonder to what extent heavier cards are less counterfeited" It probably makes no difference: I strongly suspect most people won't know that the "AmEx Platinum Status Symbol" card is meant to be heavier than normal (or, like me, even know that such cards existed). Therefore, they wouldn't question such a card just because it had a normal weight. – TripeHound Feb 4 at 7:53
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From personal experience:

  • if you have a heavier metal card and you drop it, it usually makes a louder sound so you are more likely to realize it dropped and pick it up before you lose it :)
  • a metal card tends to scratch and rub-off less than plastic cards I've had in the past, so they are less likely to become illegible and beaten-looking before their regular expiry date
  • cashiers occasionally comment on how heavy the card is, so it gives you something to chit-chat about for five seconds other than the weather
  • it feels a little nicer to find, remove, and put back when I need to use a card, and since there are so many cards with the exact same cash back benefits (even considering ones with no user/monthly/annual fees), its a reason to prefer one card over another other since there is no actually good reason left

Grand total value: I think if I had the option to pay for a metal card over a regular one, I'd consider maybe paying up to $20 (per card, not annually). If the price was more than $50 and I'd feel silly for the meager benefits of the material.

I got a credit card offer a little while ago trying to convince me to get a new card because it was a "luxurious, black metal" card, and of course the annual fee was around $500. I had a good giggle over that for a while, and then I realized some people might be convinced by that and it made me a bit sad. So much effort put into convincing people to give up lots of money in exchange for so little benefit.

Its just a little square that lets you owe other people money.

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