How Metal Cards Help Financial Institutions Distinguish Themselves

Metal cards have gained popularity among financial institutions as a way to distinguish themselves and their customers, according to John Lowe, the executive vice president of end-to-end payment solutions at CPI Card Group Inc. and a member of the International Card Manufacturers Association (ICMA).

Here are the top reasons:

  • Novelty factor –Metal cards are heavier and sturdier, which offers a more unique and premium feel.
  • Different physical experience – Due to their weight, metal cards offer a different physical experience from a traditional plastic card. Anecdotally, people share that their metal cards become a conversation at the point of sale, and many people express delight at the sound a metal card makes when it hits the table.
  • Status and exclusivity implication – The novel physical features were initially marketed to affluent cardholders. Thus, possession of and use of a metal card carries an implication of status and exclusivity. 

Lowe shares insights on how metal cards are providing financial institutions a way to distinguish themselves. Plus, he reveals the design possibilities of encased metal cards.

Financial Institutions Differentiating Themselves with Metal Cards

There is a lot of pressure on financial institutions to ensure that accountholders are activating and using their debit or credit cards. Metal cards provide a unique visual identity that helps financial institutions stand out and be clearly recognizable. Savvy program managers are smart to capture the popularity of metal cards and literally place their branding on a product with established appeal.

Another way that financial institutions use metal cards is to differentiate a part of their portfolio that offers features and benefits that are special or different. Financial institutions often couple metal cards with premium features such as cash back rewards and travel benefits. These perks boost the overall cardholder experience and make the offering more attractive. Providing a metal card to support a business debit account or a credit program with attractive rewards makes sense.

Encased Metal Cards Offer Various Design Possibilities

The design potential is the most exciting part of encased metal cards. Having print-ready outer layers allows for a full spectrum of color choices and design treatments to reflect the brand of the issuer.

When CPI entered the encased metal market segment several years ago, it made a conscious decision to explore encased metal cards wherein print-ready outer layers wrap a middle layer or “inlay” that contains metal. In practical terms, this development allowed financial institutions to move beyond gray or black brushed-metal cards and instead offer heavy cards in their own brand colors. This design also supports symmetrical contactless transactions because the internal antenna can more easily interact with a point-of-sale terminal.

The latest expansion to CPI’s offerings combines the contactless benefits of encased metal, with one of the heaviest metals available in the market with tungsten embedded inlays. The finished card is more than four times the weight of a traditional PVC card and allows financial institutions to offer their valuable customers this option.

In closing, metal cards provide financial institutions with a visually appealing and concrete way to differentiate themselves in a crowded market. By offering these premium cards, combined with valuable services and benefits, financial institutions can engage, attract and retain customers who are pursuing a higher level of status and service. Since metal cards are an avenue to show accountholders how special they are, look for a card manufacturer who can provide the level of personalization and fulfillment that communicates that level of distinction.  

More Insights on Card Trends

For more than 30 years, ICMA has represented the interests of the card manufacturing industry—which includes manufacturers, personalizers, issuers and suppliers—as its leading global association.

Throughout the year, ICMA members have the opportunity to share insights and knowledge by giving presentations during ICMA webcasts and events. The association’s main event is its annual Card Manufacturing & Personalization EXPO. The 2024 EXPO will take place from May 13-16 in Orlando, Florida.

ICMA offers regular educational opportunities, including ACE-Manufacturing, ACE-Personalization and ACE-Advanced Technologies training and exams at the ICMA EXPO. ICMA also offers ACE-Commercial training, which provides sales, marketing, customer service and other key personnel at ICMA member companies with the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of card manufacturing. In 2023, the last ACE-Commercial training will take place on November 1.

Learn more about the benefits of ICMA membership.