If you want to make a statement at the cash register, try paying with a metal card credit. Although offered by a number of card issuers, they are still relatively rare and may turn a few heads. Beyond being eye-catching, metal credit cards are heavier and sturdier than traditional plastic cards, making them the preferred choice for some people.
Whether you like the idea of a metal credit card as a status symbol or as a rugged addition to your wallet, here's everything you need to know about this unique payment option.
History of metal credit cards
Metal credit cards as we know them today debuted in 1999 with the introduction of the Centurion Card from American Express. Also known as the Black Card, this credit card is still available today and seen by many as the ultimate payment status symbol.
To get a Centurion Card, you need an invitation, and word on the internet is that you only get invitation if you're spending at least $350,000 on your existing American Express cards each year. Then, you need to pay a $10,000 initiation fee and a $5,000 annual fee. Clearly, the people who qualify for this card are an elite group.
Fortunately, you no longer need deep pockets to get a metal credit card. Most of the major players in the credit card industry - including Chase, Citi and Capital One - now offer metal credit card options. Keep reading to see our top choices below, as well as how much those cards weigh. For reference, a paperclip weighs about 1 gram and a U.S. nickel weighs about 5 grams.
The Platinum Card® from American Express - Best metal credit card for airport lounge access
Bonus: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership.
Rewards: Earn 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year); 5X points on prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com; 10x points on eligible purchases on your new card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. (up to $25,000 in combined spending) during your first six months of card membership; and one point per $1 on everything else.
Annual fee: $695
Added perks: Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection®, an airport lounge program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world (and a proprietary scent as well, if that's your thing); enjoy up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and other incidental fees with one qualifying pre-selected airline; up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue; up to $200 in statement credit annually when you use your card for prepaid bookings with American Express Travel at Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties; up to $179 in statement credit each year when you pay for your CLEAR® membership with your card; $15 in Uber Cash for orders with Uber Eats or rides with Uber in the U.S. every month plus a bonus $20 in December (available to basic card member only); and many more credits and benefit opportunities (enrollment required for some benefits).
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - Best signup bonus for a metal credit card
Bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Rewards: Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus earn five points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's three points in addition to the two points you already earn on travel.
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.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card - Best flexible travel rewards for a metal credit card
Bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel.
Rewards: Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day.
Annual fee: $95
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 numerous leading travel loyalty programs; and more.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® - Best trip insurance for a metal credit card
Bonus: Enjoy 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $900 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 eligible purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
Annual fee: $550
Added perks: Points are worth 50% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate rewards®; access to 1,300+ 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.
U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card - Best no-annual-fee metal credit card
Bonus: Receive 20,000 bonus points, with a value of $200, after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of opening an account.
Rewards: Earn 4X points per dollar spent on takeout, food delivery and dining, 2X points on grocery stores, grocery delivery, streaming services and gas stations and 1X points on all other eligible purchases.
Annual fee: $0*
Added perks: New cardholders enjoy a 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for their first 12 billing cycles (then, 14.99% - 23.99%* Variable). The card also offers an annual streaming credit of $15 for purchases on services such as Netflix, Spotify and Apple TV+.
American Express® Gold Card - Best metal credit card for groceries
Bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $4,000 on purchases within six months of opening an account.
Rewards: Earn 4X points per $1 spent at restaurants worldwide and on up to $25,000 of annual purchases at U.S. supermarkets, 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com and 1X points for all other eligible purchases.
Annual fee: $250
Added perks: American Express has brought back the popular rose gold color option for its Gold Card, but that's not the only perk cardholders will receive. The card also comes with $120 in Uber Cash and $120 in dining credits (with specific restaurants) which are both available in $10 increments each month (enrollment required from some benefits)
Mastercard® Black Card™ - Heaviest metal credit card (available to general public)
Bonus: Enjoy 0% introductory APR for the first 15 billing cycles on balance transfers made in the first 45 days after account opening, then 14.99% 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 1300+ 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.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card - Best metal credit card for hotel rewards
Bonus: Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases within three months of opening an account. New cardholders can also receive up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases made at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of account opening.
Rewards: Earn 6X points per $1 spent on hotel purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties, 3X points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points on all other eligible purchases.
Annual fee: $450
Added perks: Enjoy up to $300 in annual statement credit toward purchases at eligible Marriott Bonvoy hotels and one free night award every year after your account anniversary. Plus, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card comes with a long list of other perks including airport lounge access through, fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® and more. (enrollment required for some benefits)
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® - Best metal credit card for airline loyalty
Bonus: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles when you spend $5,000 in purchases within three months of opening an account. Earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases in a year.
Rewards: Earn unlimited 2X miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1X miles for all other purchases.
Annual fee $450
Added perks: Cardholders receive complementary airport lounge access as members of the Admirals Club®. Other perks include a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®, free checked bag on American Airlines domestic itineraries for you and up to eight people on the same itinerary, priority check-in and boarding and a 25% discount on in-flight food and beverage purchases when paid for with your card.
Verizon Visa® Card - Best non-traditional rewards
Bonus: Get a $100 credit to your Verizon Wireless bill when you pay it with your new card. Credit is applied over 24 months.
Rewards: Earn 4% back on grocery store and gas purchases, 3% back on dining and takeout purchases, 2% back on Verizon purchases and 1% back on all other purchases. Rewards are issued in the form of Verizon Dollars.
Annual fee: $0
Added perks: Available only to Verizon Wireless customers, this card offers unlimited rewards with no expiration date. Enroll in Verizon Auto Pay to pay your wireless bill automatically with your card and receive a $10 per month discount per line. Cardholders are also automatically enrolled in the Verizon Up program which offers bonus rewards and the opportunity to claim exclusive offers.
*Some card weights courtesy of US Credit Card Guide
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.
What is the heaviest credit card?
The heaviest metal credit card we know about is the JP Morgan Reserve card. It weighs in at a hefty 27 grams, but it's an invite-only card. If you don't have $10 million in investable assets at JP Morgan Private Bank, you're not getting an invite either.
Among the cards available to the general public, the Mastercard® Black Card™ and Mastercard® Gold Card™ tie for the heaviest at 22 grams.
How much does the AmEx Platinum weigh?
The AmEx Platinum Card will add 17 grams to your wallet.
Are metal credit cards better?
No, not necessarily. They are more durable than plastic cards, but they aren't necessarily better than traditional cards when it comes to benefits and perks. Whether they're "better" depends on what you're looking for.
Metal credit cards are often marketed to those who travel extensively and have significant disposable income. They can have annual fees in the hundreds of dollars although they often also come with fantastic perks such as free airport lounge access, elite status in loyalty programs and travel statement credits. If you stay close to home, though, you may be better off with a plastic cash-back card.
Bottom line: don't choose a credit card simply because it's metal. If it otherwise fits your needs, consider the metal factor an added benefit.
What are the best metal credit cards?
We've listed our favorites above, but to narrow it down to our top three, we like the following:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for its signup bonus and popular travel rewards currency
- The Platinum Card® from American Express for airport lounge access
- U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card for a no-annual-fee option
Can you request a metal card?
Unless a credit card normally comes in metal, you typically can't request a metal version from the issuer; however, there are some third-party companies that will convert a plastic card to metal for a fee. Doing so could compromise the security measures of your card, though, so proceed with caution.
Additionally, we have heard of situations in which a bank decides to switch from metal to plastic cards. If you're an existing cardholder, you might be able to request a metal version when you're due for a new card rather than accepting the plastic version. It never hurts to ask if that's something that's important to you.
How do I destroy a metal credit card?
Many issuers will help you dispose of an old or expired metal credit card. The durability of metal credit cards can make them difficult to destroy as they won't go through a typical shredder, so your best bet is to contact the card's issuer. Many will provide a return envelope so you can send the card back and let the bank dispose of it.
To see the rates and fees for American Express cards mentioned in this article, please see the following links: The Platinum Card® from American Express (See Rates and Fees); American Express® Gold Card (See Rates and Fees); Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (See Rates and Fees)