Credit cards have found their way from the designer wallets of the wealthy to the pockets of the average Joe. The result is that card issuers have been pushed to their creative limits in their attempts to maintain their appeal to those who demand that little bit more.
Check out the moneyland.ch pick of the quirkiest credit cards ever issued:
1. JCB Linda. Did you forget to perfume yourself before leaving home? No problem – as long as you kept your perfumed credit card where everyone could smell it. Japanese payment network JCB introduced the idea with its Linda perfumed credit card. According to JCB “Linda is a card product targeted to single working women in their 20s and 30s, who have high disposable income and are motivated to spend.” That might sound and smell wrong on so many levels, but Linda struck a chord among young Japanese women. An impressive 550,000 people signed up for the card in the period between 2002 (the year it was launched) and 2007 alone. Surprisingly (or not), Linda cards and their associated discount and rewards program are still highly popular in Japan.
2. Commerzbank aromatic credit cards. German bank Commerzbank hopped onto the scented-card bandwagon in 2008, offering a series of credit cards marinated in an array of fragrances. Luckily – or not – Commerzbank stuck to the conservative fragrances which one could expect to find in a German bakery (think oranges, cinnamon and coffee).
3. Dubai First Royale. If you live in Dubai and want to add some spark to the mundane business of settling payments via credit card, you need only look as far as the diamond-studded Royale credit card issued by the Dubai First bank. Launched in 2007 and still offered to high net worth individuals, the physical card itself could double as a diamond investment. But while it does deliver bling, an exclusive concierge service and a dedicated relationship manager, the single diamond on its face doesn’t hold a candle against the 333 diamonds embedded into the Royal Legend credit card, which is also issued by Dubai First but is only offered to middle-eastern royal families.
4. Kazkommertsbank Diamond credit card. If the somewhat basic gold trimmings of the Dubai First did not appeal to you, perhaps one of the gold-enlaced and diamond-studded Diamond credit cards launched by Kazakh bank Kazkommertsbank in 2008 might have suited your taste. It remains to be seen if Halyk Bank, which merged with Kazkommertsbank in 2018, will launch a replacement for this aesthetically-pleasing credit card.
5. Sberbank Gold Visa Infinite. If diamonds alone don’t do it for you, the solid gold visa credit card issued by the Kazakh subsidiary of Russian bank Sberbank might have done the job. The card holds a strong aesthetic appeal thanks to its 26 embedded diamonds and unique engravings. Unfortunately, it is only available to the bank’s highest net worth customers. Thanks to widespread acceptance of gold, those customers can rest assured in the knowledge that, should they ever find themselves short on cash in a location where credit cards are not accepted, they can always (literally) use their card to pay – in kind.
6. Lady’s Solitaire Swarovski Crystal Card from UOB. Singapore bank UOB took bling to a whole new level when it introduced a limited edition of its popular Lady’s Solitaire credit card which had imbedded Swarovski to its well-heeled lady customers as part of a brief promotion in 2015. Bling-lovers who did not qualify for a genuine diamond credit card could get the same sparkly effect with this card.
7. Pure + Solid Gold, Silver and Platinum cards. When Swiss credit card issuers talk about silver, gold and platinum credit cards, they are referring to the benefits and lines of credit offered – not to the material that the card is made of. When London-based card manufacturer Pure + Solid talked about silver, gold and platinum credit cards, it is referring to the physical makeup of the cards themselves. The good news is that Pure + Solid cards are available to residents of Switzerland and come in USD, EUR and GBP versions. The bad news is that the huge markup you pay on the value of the precious metal annihilates these cards’ value as precious metal investments.
8. JP Morgan Palladium Card. Gold had already been done, so palladium seemed a logical next step for U.S. banking giant JP Morgan Chase, which introduced its Palladium Card for private banking customers in 2009. While lack of familiarity with this metal makes this card – now rebranded as the Reserve Card – a less effective emergency bargaining tool than its gold counterparts, it is an effective conversation starter (“so what exactly is palladium?”).
9. IMGold Bullion Visa card. This visa credit card introduced by Isle of Man gold pool IMGold in 2014 is quirky because it is made of 14 karat gold. Aside from that, the idea behind the card is solid: Investors who hold gold reserves at IMGold could use the card to access a line of credit secured using their gold reserves as collateral. In this way, this secured credit card performed much the same function as the lombard loans offered by Swiss banks and stock brokers, allowing investors to access liquidity without selling their assets. Unfortunately for Swiss gold lovers, it does not currently offer its Bullion card (IMGold services are available to residents of Switzerland), though this may change in the future. Gold fans take note.
Swiss credit card comparison