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What you need to know about metal credit cards

By , Site Editor

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metal credit cardsHeavier than their plastic counterparts, metal credit cards are gaining popularity among some credit card users. They’re sleek, sturdy and still relatively rare in comparison to plastic cards, making them a status symbol for some.

So what are the benefits of metal credit cards? The cons? Who offers them? Let’s start with a bit of history first…

History of metal credit cards

Marking its 20th year, the American Express Centurion Card is the longest-lived existing metal card. This invitation-only card is not an easy one to get a hold of though, and even for those who do qualify, membership doesn’t come cheap—cardholders must pay a $7,500 initiation fee as well as a $2,500 annual fee. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser. Terms apply.

It wasn’t until more accessible options became available, such as the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, that metal credit cards started to rise in popularity. However, that’s likely more so because of the lower annual fees and high rewards rates offered with these credit cards instead of the fact that the cards are metal. In fact, according to a CardRatings.com survey of 1,750 cardholders, when asked about their thoughts on metal credit cards, nearly 40% of respondents replied that they’d never even heard of them.

It’s likely that this stat will soon shift though, as metal credit cards continue to become a popular offering from more and more issuers.

Metal credit card pros and cons:

Whether a card is plastic or metal it still makes purchases the same. We recommend considering a card's APR, bonuses, ongoing rewards, and other perks more heavily than whether it's metal or not, but there are some important pros and cons of metal credit cards to first consider if you're looking to apply for one.

Pros: The most obvious pro of metal credit cards is that they are much more durable than their plastic cousins. If you use a plastic credit card long enough, chances are you’ll need to replace it a few times throughout the life of the account. Even a plastic credit card that’s well taken care of has a hard time standing up to potential accidental damage. They bend easily, can snap, and the printed information usually fades over time. Not to say that a metal credit card is indestructible, but the chances that a metal credit card will survive an accidental run through the washing machine are much higher than that of a plastic card.

There’s also a feel of luxury to metal credit cards that some would count as a pro. Some people like the element of surprise that accompanies handing over an unordinary card, while some just enjoy the look better.

Cons: While many credit card users might prefer the durable look and feel of metal credit cards, there are a few reasons a heavier, studier card might be considered a con. For starters, though they are certainly sturdier, this also means these cards are much harder to destroy upon expiration or closing of the account. Unlike a plastic credit card, you won't be able to cut them with scissors, bend them back and forth until they break or shred them. Most even carry "don't shred" warnings because the cards can damage shredders. So how do you get rid of metal credit cards then? Instead of destroying a metal credit card, issuers can send you an envelope to send expired cards back to them for secure destruction.

Additionally, while the sturdiness of the cards makes them ideal for travel, they may or may not set off metal detectors. Different metal detectors may be more finely tuned than others. Also, TSA security is likely to have you remove everything from your pockets, including non-metal items, so it's best to expect it to set off a metal detector and put it with keys, etc., when going through airport security. Metal detectors in other places may not be as finely tuned.

Best metal credit cards

Some of our top picks for metal credit cards include:

Mastercard® Black Card™

Bonus: Enjoy 0% introductory APR for the first 15 billing cycles on balance transfers made in the first 45 days after account opening, then 17.24% Variable.

Rewards: Earn one point for each dollar spent with the card.

Annual fee: $495

Added perks: Featuring a stainless steel patented card design, the Mastercard® Black Card™ has a reputation for being one of the strongest metal credit cards on the market. With this card you can redeem your points for airfare at a 2% value—that means that 50,000 points are worth a $1,000 flight—or enjoy a 1.5% value for cash back redemptions. You can also earn up to $100 in annual air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more. Additionally, Mastercard® Black Card™ holders receive a $100 automatic statement credit for the cost of the Global Entry application fee. Global Entry members are also eligible to participate in TSA Pre-check, an expedited domestic security screening at participating airports in the United States. Other perks include complimentary access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world with Priority Pass Select (automatic enrollment with card), price protection, purchase assurance, extended warranty protection, trip delay and travel accident insurance, auto rental collision waiver, and more.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Rewards: Earn two points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Annual fee: $95

Added perks: Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; no blackout dates or travel restrictions; no foreign transaction fees for purchases made outside the United States; 24/7 direct access to a customer service specialist; auto rental collision damage waiver; trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance; travel and emergency assistance services; baggage delay insurance; extended warranty protection; purchase protection; and more.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Bonus: Enjoy 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Rewards: Earn 3x points on travel worldwide, immediately after earning your $300 annual travel credit; 3x points on dining at restaurants; and one point per dollar spent on everything else. The $300 annual travel credit is received as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.

Annual fee: $450

Added perks: Points are worth 50% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate rewards®; access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select; no blackout dates or travel restrictions; no foreign transaction fees for purchases made outside the United States; 24/7 direct access to a customer service specialists; auto rental collision damage waiver; trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance; travel and emergency assistance services; extended warranty protection; purchase protection; and more.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Bonus: Enjoy 50,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening—equal to $500 in travel.

Rewards: Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day— plus 10X miles on thousands of hotels through January 2020 when you book at hotels.com/venture.

Annual fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Added perks: Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®; no foreign transaction fees; travel accident insurance; extended warranty protection; auto rental collision damage waiver; fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime, thanks to no blackout dates; ability to transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs; and more.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Bonus: Enjoy 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your card to make $5,000 in purchases over the first three months. Terms apply.

Rewards: Earn 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel; 5X points on prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com; and one point per dollar on everything else. Terms apply.

Annual fee: $550

Added perks: Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world; receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts; enjoy a $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline; get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue (enrollment required); and more. Terms apply.

To see the rates and fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express please visit the following link: See Rates and Fees

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