With a potential U.S. market of nearly 40 million cardholders, metal cards are moving beyond the exclusive domain of pricey rewards programs, and into the mainstream. Attracted by higher retention rates and the promise of adding a more affluent customer segment to their card portfolios, issuers from fintech startups to community banks are adding metal and metal-plastic hybrid flagship cards to their debit and credit card offerings. Yet metal cards continue to generate feelings of exclusivity, luxury, and sophistication among a certain type of cardholder.

Because they involve higher manufacturing expense, it’s important to understand the key ingredients of a successful metal card program before taking the leap. In a prior post, we explored the first of these critical attributes: the look. Today we discuss how the elements of weight and touch enhance perceived value and prove the beauty of metal cards is not only skin-deep.

Beyond the look

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of metal is its noticeable heft. Cardholders appreciate the “plunk” factor, the unique sound a metal card makes when pulled out of a wallet and dropped on the counter. At 20 grams and 10 grams respectively, encased tungsten and encased steel cards are several times the weight of plastic cards, imparting a sensation of enhanced opulence.

This is a key reason multiple issuers are enjoying success with metal cards. Chase reportedly burned through its inventory of premium metal cards shortly after launching its Sapphire Reserve program in 2017. It’s also why the wait list for Acorns’ new tungsten debit card grew to 35,000 before the card began shipping in December 2018.

Aside from heft, metal cards also offer cardholders a luxurious and pleasing tactile sensation. Encased metal cards, which embed metal between layers of PVC, introduces urbane design elements and dimensional depth to a traditional metal card, elevating its perceived quality. Using ink layers and special printing techniques, such cards feature a sleek texture while still offering custom colored cores to attract from the top of the wallet.

To stay one step ahead of consumer expectations, issuers should embrace continuous innovation in card design. Metal cards offer an intriguing and versatile palate on which to create a host of unique and attractive products.

CPI Card Group’s team of dedicated client services and research and development specialists enables financial institutions to seamlessly integrate metal cards into their offerings. Learn more about CPI Card Group’s full suite of end-to-end solutions for metal cards here.

Jack Jania

Written by:

Jack Jania is the VP Product Management and Innovation for Secure Cards at CPI Card Group.