What's the Classiest Credit Card?

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According to BrandChannel, the brand of credit card you use may say something about you.

Use an American Express (Stock Quote: AXP) card? You must be classy, or a celebrity. The article claims that "American Express is probably the easiest to parse in terms of brand identity. Often considered the gold (or platinum) standard of payment possibilities, Amex represents the elite spender with extensive buying power who can manage to pay that hefty bill in full every month. The spending power theme is boosted by the brand’s celebrity-endorsed ads. Who wouldn’t want to feel like they’re in the same league as filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan or fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg?"

Well, what about those who use Discover (Stock Quote: DFS), which is the newest of the four major credit card brands (established in 1986). BrandChannel says that Discover places a big emphasis on cash-back rewards, and that the company's credit cardholders tend to be extremely loyal.

MasterCard (Stock Quote: MA) owners may be sentimental about their purchases. "MasterCard was the first to break free from the ennui of financial lending with 'Priceless,' a mid-‘90s campaign that has become one of the most successful repositioning initiatives in brand history. Buying things with your credit card was no longer a priority—that little piece of plastic in your wallet was now your golden ticket to enjoying every experience life had to offer."

Finally, what about Visa (Stock Quote: V)? "Visa also has placed renewed emphasis on life as experience, a fact that the brand incorporated into its ad campaign, 'Life Takes Visa.' This campaign, launched two years ago, supplanted the 20-year-old 'It’s Everywhere You Want to Be'—once again stressing that while some of life’s experiences may take you across the globe, your credit card has just as much power to enhance your life in your day-to-day activities," the branding gurus decree.

So, huge generalization here, but Visa and MasterCard owners like the blend of comfort and worldwide acceptance, while Discover card owners love their cash-back benefits and AmEx users strive to be (or already are) members of the elite. What about those of you who still use -- gasp -- actual cash? BrandChannel doesn't get into that.

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