In the past, a gold credit card was the most elite credit card available on the market. It represented a consumer or business with a better than average credit score and typically a much higher credit limit. Over time, owning a gold credit card slowly lost its prestige due to the abundance of credit card products offered to consumers.
American Express® is the company most famous for its introduction of the gold credit card in 1966. A basic American Express® card was a shade of green, but a gold credit card was introduced as an elite token representing a higher than average credit limit. Since that time, American Express® introduced a platinum card and a black card which are even more prestigious and represent an even higher level of creditworthiness.
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In today’s world, there is an abundance of credit cards from which to choose, but there are still only three major players: MasterCard®, Visa® and American Express®. In 1985, the Discover® Card was introduced, but is still limited in use today. The three major credit card companies have a plethora of banks through which they can offer credit to consumers.
Credit cards vary widely, not just in terms of the number of different banks that offer them. As an incentive for customers to choose their credit card, banks offer kickbacks in the form of cash back, frequent flyer miles and rewards programs. For every dollar spent on the credit card, a consumer can earn either cash back or points toward rewards like airline flights and gift cards.
In addition, the interest rate of credit cards can vary widely. Just because a person is a good credit risk and can obtain a card such as a gold credit card does not mean that the interest rate will necessarily be low. In fact, the interest rate may even be higher since the owner is paying for the privilege of owning a prestigious credit card. Interest rates will almost always be higher for persons with below-average credit scores because the risk taken by the issuing bank or credit card company is higher.
In some cases, annual fees for gold and other types of credit cards are charged. American Express® cards, regardless of the color, typically are accompanied by annual fees for the use of the card. An annual fee can range depending on the card product being offered and the prestige it confers upon the user.