The Difference Between Plastic and Metal Credit Cards

The latest desire for status that has resulted in a credit card trend is the metal credit card. These metal credit cards come in brass, copper, brushed stainless steel and even gold and palladium. Some are made from alloys whose ingredients are kept as closely guarded secrets.

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The card design may include both metal and plastic, with the metal used in the middle to add heft. Some are pure metal plates, and a few can even be diamond-encrusted. All are designed to bring gravitas to the table when it comes time to pay the bill.

Credit card issuers initially came up with metal credit cards to appeal to their most affluent customers. Several offer large sign-on bonuses (in the form of points), and the elite of the elite cards are offered by invitation only, with initiation fees on top of annual fees that can run into the thousands. Why all the fuss? Some customers find the cachet of the metal cards appealing.

Do metal credit cards cause issues in security lines?

Anything made of metal has the potential to set off alarms in security lines, and some credit card bloggers note examples where metal credit cards have been the culprits.

The Transportation Security Administration has been concerned about credit card knifes, which are shaped and sized like credit cards but aren’t used for purchases and have sharp blades that fold open. A metal card can sometimes prompt TSA officials to take a closer look at what you’re carrying.

There is, of course, a simple enough solution. Run your wallet filled with metal credit cards through the X-ray machine along with your cell phone and keys. Problem solved.

So what’s the biggest problem with metal cards?

Once it’s time to get rid of a metal card, it’s not so easy to dispose of in an age of increasing identity theft. If you put a metal card in the shredder, it may shred the shredder. Some folks have reportedly tried to cut them up with garden shears, wire cutters and even power tools.

Some issuers have encouraged users to mail the metal credit cards back to them for disposal, but sending a credit card through the mail poses security risks some folks are no longer comfortable taking.

That’s the nice thing about plastic. When you’re done with it, you can easily do away with it.

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