personalized cards, packaging and materials

In a world where personalization of products and services is moving towards becoming the norm instead of the exception, a personalized payment card - a unique card - can be a boon to any card company savvy enough to invest in its design. A payment card that looks and feels tailored to its holder creates a direct connection between the customer and the company, boosting both customer loyalty and revenue.


Design has always been a significant influence on the perception of any product and when it comes to payment cards, design can play a pivotal role in both attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. The basic draws of a payment card are well known: size, portability, security, time-saving. But even at the very start, the very first card companies knew that if they could offer something more to their customers, they may gain a competitive edge. 


Source: BusinessWire

Without the benefit of technology that could allow for modern features, such as contactless payments or biometrics, those first payment cards used design to their benefit. The material a card is made of, how the card feels under your fingers can play a big role in its perception.

Before cards switched to ubiquitous plastic, they were made of anything from copper and aluminum to steel. Metal was specially reserved for top-tier cardholders - the coveted American Express Centurion Card made some waves when it came out in 1999 and was invitation only. Today some of those classic materials are coming back for the average cardholder, and other materials, like titanium, are growing in popularity.


But once the card is in a cardholder's hand, it's important not just how it feels but also how it looks. For a great example of how a modern fintech is approaching card design, we can take a look at Square. Their credit card has no identifying markers you might expect on a credit card - there are only the Visa logo, the chip, and the cardholder's laser-printed signature.


Source: Square

 And even the signature is optional: if a cardholder sends in a personalized design or artwork, Square will place it on their card. This not only makes the cardholder feel unique but has created a trend where Square cardholders post photos of their personalized cards on social media platforms, increasing Square's visibility.

We've mentioned design and personalization having an effect not only on customer loyalty but on finances as well: research reveals that the average credit card balance of a holder of a personalized payment is higher than that of a standard card. Entrust Datacard's research results points to personalized cards being responsible for increased acquisition rates by an average of 15% and are among the main drivers behind a 50% increase in card activation rates, as well as a 10% average increase in credit balance and a 20% average general increase in card use.


We'll go back to material for a moment because there is a global trend that has recently begun also affecting payment card design: sustainability. With increased awareness of the need for environmental protection and the way eco-friendliness can affect people's everyday lives, financial institutions have begun taking a stance. American Express announced the launch of its first-ever credit card made primarily from plastic recovered from the ocean. AmEx spokeswoman Charlotte Fuller explained that while American Express will continue issuing payment cards made of titanium and stainless steel since both materials are recyclable, the card company was also actively looking into reducing their reliance on plastics.

Doug Buckminster, Group President of Global Consumer Services, American Express, said of this environmentally conscious initiative: "Our oceans play a vital role in our lives, the health of our planet and the health of travel and tourism, which American Express has long supported. It’s important that we raise awareness and do our part to keep our oceans blue."  

But American Express is not the only card giant making steps towards sustainability. Mastercard is collaborating with Gemalto, IDEMIA and Giesecke & Devrient on a project that would create a "greener" payment instrument.


Source: BusinessWire

When interviewed by PYMNTS, Mastercard's President of Cyber and Intelligence Solutions Ajay Bhalla said: "This is an issue we as a generation can no [longer] ignore. Plastic is easy, yes, but we now need to be working on a bigger cause of reducing it. If we don’t all get behind it, the world will have a big problem. This is a matter of being environmentally responsible."


Sometimes, though, even the way a product is delivered can affect its reception. Payment cards arrive in the mail, in plain envelopes - unless a cardholder is VIP or a celebrity, in which case the card will be inside something cool-looking. But in the age of personalization, everyone is VIP and fintechs such as N26, Apple and Revolut know this very well. These are the cards with their respective packagings:

N26 card is yet another example of „crafting a premium card experience“. Kelly Ford, Chief Marketing Officer, said that it was important to them to create a great product since they are a mobile bank and this is one of the few things you can hold in your hand and is made by N26. 

Apple has built its brand on making its each and every customer feel special and its Apple Card employs the sleek minimalist design that has long since become instantly recognizable across the world. Packaging and card activation are also done in their especially convenient signature way. 

Revolut went the distance with packaging for their Travel card: the box is trendy pink-to-purple gradient, with darker colors on the inside. The slogan "One Account. One App. One World." and the packaging are not only drawing attention but also fulfilling the main aim of making the cardholder excited to own and use the card.