How to Start Collecting Vintage Credit Cards

article by ron bowen

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Saturday, Apr 17

It can go without saying that there are many, many different things in the world that people can enjoy collecting. Some people enjoy focusing on coins from around the world, while other people may enjoy collecting magazines, books, or something else. Starting a collection may be something that you do on an impulse when you see a good deal on some items, or it could be something that happens gradually as you purchase things that catch your attention only to realize a few years later that you have a strong collection growing.

If you find yourself in a position where you want to begin collecting something, but you aren’t entirely sure where you should begin, you may feel at a loss. After all, a lot of collections seem to happen either over time or as a spur of the moment kind of purchase, so how do you go about planning to build a collection? It all depends on what type of item you are looking for. Once you know what you are looking for, it will be a lot easier for you to begin the collection.

Is There a Market for it?

Chances are that you know about the markets and the audiences out there for all sorts of vintage objects. It could be coins, magazines, or other pieces of work. If you are interested in collecting credit cards from decades past, you may not be certain if you could even find them easily. While the market for vintage credit cards is not nearly as vocal or as varied as it is with coins, books, and other objects, it is undeniably there. Most websites that allow for people to sell their own items are going to have at least a few people selling old, expired credit cards.

One thing to keep in mind is that there isn’t really an “official” market for them the way that there is for something like coins. You aren’t going to find guides on how to value credit cards or how to properly keep them safe. Instead, you will pretty much just come across people selling their old, unwanted credit cards for people who may be interested in them. This also leaves it up to you to determine if the value of the cards is something that is worth paying for, since there isn’t necessarily a guide for how much they should or shouldn’t cost.

How Much Will You Spend?

Naturally, the price of the vintage credit cards are going to vary heavily per seller. Some people who sell the credit cards are going to value them at something far higher than most people would pay, while other people who just want to get them out of the house may charge far less than you would expect. Typically, old credit cards don’t go for more than double-digit prices until you get to some of the significantly older credit cards or collections that have dozens and dozens of cards in them.

Most purchases that you will make will be in the range of 10 to 30 dollars per card. Some people will sell two or three cards in the same purchase, while other people may sell the single card at this price. This means that vintage credit cards are an area where you likely won’t have to spend a lot of money to begin your collection and you can easily add to it without making a noticeable dent in your budget, as long as you aren’t as interested in some of the specialty credit cards.

As with all collectables and vintage objects, there are going to be some items that are worth far more to collectors than their base value would suggest, and vintage credit cards are no exception to this rule. Credit cards from exclusive clubs or ones that are particularly old will easily top three figures. It’s highly rare that you would come across a vintage credit card that reaches into the four-figure range though.

These cards are far more expensive than the others, but as long as you are purchasing from a reputable seller, they will also be that much harder to find, giving you the choice of determining whether or not they are worth something to you. Examples of cards that run for these kinds of prices include limited edition card designs, limited editions club cards, and credit cards from early in credit card history (around the 1960s).

What Makes Credit Cards Special?

If you are trying to determine what exactly makes a credit card special or better to own, you may be at a loss. Because credit cards don’t have the kind of officiated market that coins do, there isn’t much to determine what the true value of a vintage credit card is. Naturally, older and more exclusive cards will run for more than older iterations of credit cards that you can obtain today, but beyond that, there isn’t much that dictates how much a vintage credit card is going to cost.

This means that a lot of the value that is placed on the cards is personal. It could be that you enjoy the older designs of the cards or you are interested in collecting credit cards from companies that don’t make them anymore. It could be that credit cards from your childhood years mean more to you than the design, or from companies that were impactful on your childhood. Some people just enjoy collecting credit cards for no reason other than their place in history.

There are a few things that can influence the price, availability, and the worth of the cards, though. A very impactful factor is going to be how widely available the card was back when it was still being produced. If the credit card was from an exclusive company or an exclusive program where there wouldn’t be a lot of people who owned the cards, these are the type of cards that can balloon in price because of that scarcity. Likewise, credit cards from places that no longer offer the cards or have changed their design drastically are going to be in this same boat.

The age of the cards also plays a large role in it. Most collectors of antiques can agree that there is something special about items that were made early on in their popularity, even if the exact year they were made wasn’t that long ago. Credit cards in the United States only came into use around the 1950s, which makes “vintage” cards a fair bit younger than other “vintage” collections. Even so, cards from the 50s, 60s, and 70s tend to run for a lot more than other cards because of that age and because they were the early cards in the history of them. Credit cards from this period easily top three figures, depending on how hard to come by they would have been at the time they were being made.

When all is said and done, because credit cards don’t have an official market or audience for them the way that other collections do, this means that it may be slightly harder to get your collection going. Visiting thrift stores, searching websites that allow for people to sell anything they own, and looking through attic sales can be good places to start if you want to begin your antique credit card collection.

 

 

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