Prestige Credit Cards: When Is the Style Worth the Money?

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — What if you could put a fancy hat on your debit card?

The idea isn’t as ludicrous as it may seem, at least not completely. It’s the business model of Magnises, an entirely new kind of plastic (or in this case, metal) built entirely around the idea of personal image. A Magnises card isn’t actually a credit card. Instead it’s a card that you link to an existing bank account or line of credit so that when the bill comes at the end of dinner you don’t have to sheepishly add a debit card to the pile. You can throw down something sleek and black.

Endorsed by rapper Ja Rule and founded by 22-year-old entrepreneur Billy McFarland, a Magnises card is all about the thrill of membership. It’s so exclusive that you can’t even seek the company out; membership is limited to referral only, and prospects are vetted through a grueling hangout in New York City’s hippest enclaves.

It’s like Fight Club, but with a VIP section.

Magnises is part of an odd type of financial product: the prestige card. Prestige cards are as much about being seen as financial planning.

Preferably that style should come in black or be made of metal — sometimes both when you can get it, such as with the American Express Centurion Card, a financial instrument forged out of anodized titanium in the credit department of the gods.

Just kidding … it gets stamped in China and mailed out from a troubled U.S. credit card company. But with the black and silver color scheme, plumed warrior’s head motif and heavy thunk the card makes when it hits the table, the card does still give the impression it's made from a higher power.

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