The following explains the taxonomy used in this website for classifying cards (and credit pieces) and also gives a short glossary of terms useful in understanding the diversity of cards

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033The handbook of the ACCCS also explains many aspects of collecting cards. It was published June, 2002 by Jerry Ballard through the ACCCS, copyrighted by the American Credit Card Collectors Society and available in the members section. No part of it may be reproduced without the express written consent of the ACCCS, except for the Grading Guide, which is the property of Travis McGrath.   The “Photos” section of this site, in the members section contains over 10,000 images of cards. Two broad types of album are available.

034(1) Selected Sales Transactions” are from recent times and contain actual trade transactions with image, price and date. They are listed alphabetically by the card issuer and may be useful in valuing similar cards. The lsitings are not comprehensive at all since they can only reflect what is for sale. (2) All other albums are oriented as a calatogue type of approach, hoping to display as many different cards (and pieces) as possible. The main source for these images is members’ collections that have been scanned in. We have chosen a taxonomy that starts with type of issuer and within that specific issuer. Certain elements are separated out because they are so different or important. In very rough outline, the taxonomy is shaped by the volume of cards in collectors collections.




  • 2005 and Earlier
  • 2006


  • Early bank-issued credit cards
  • BankAmericard pre-Visa
  • Visa pre-holograph
  • Master Charge cards
  • Pre-hologram large logo MasterCards
  • Citibank
  • MBNA
  • FirstUSA, Bank One, Chase combined
  • Mid-size USA banks
  • Small USA banks (under construction)


  • American Express
  • Carte Blanche
  • Diners Club USA
  • Diners Club around the world
  • Esquire Charge Club
  • Discover History (under construction)
  • Discover Platinum Designs (under construction)


  • Great American Emporiums
  • Princess Credit Pieces
  • Department Stores & Other Consumer Goods Merchants
  • Playboy Credit Pieces
  • Casino Credit Pieces


  • American Oil
  •  Atlantic
  • BP
  • Champlin
  • Chevron
  • CITGO-Cities Service
  • Conoco
  • DX
  • Enco
  • Esso
  • Gulf
  • Hess
  • Humble
  • Magnolia
  • Marathon
  • Mobil
  • Phillips
  • Richfield
  • Shell
  • Sinclair
  • Skelly
  • Standard Oil
  • Sunoco
  • Texaco – Texas Oil
  • Tidewater
  • Union
  • Everybody else not in the above categories


  • Japan & JCB
  • Other Countries (to be added)


  • Travel & Entertainment paper-based
  • Celluloid cards
  • Charge plates


  • Bankcard formats
  • Celebrities
  • Mistakes
  • Cardholder sequences

CASH CARDS (under construction)

ATM CARDS (under construction)



Travel & Entertainment

T&E is a fairly undefined category meaning cards originally focused on the hotel, transporation, rental cars, and restaurant markets, such as American Express, Diners Club, Carte Blanche, or the older Air Travel card. The category has little meaning today.

Charge Coin

The first charge pieces were believed to be issued around 1865, and were made of “celluloid”, an early type of plastic. Later ones were made of copper, aluminum, steel, or white metal and became known as charge coins.  They came in various shapes, in sizes of a quarter to half-dollar but were not always round.  They were issued primarily by department stores, usually containing an image connected with the merchant and an identification number for the customer..

Oil Company

Oil company cards are sometimes referred to as “Gas Cards”, even though they could be used to buy more than gas at a service station. The early ones were paper. Four or five companies issued charga-plates in the 1930’s. Plastic cards started in the mid 1950’s. The oil company credit card collectors compete with the oil company memorabilia collectors for cards. Over 3000 different cards are known to exist. Frequently the card contained information to help the holder know where it could be used.


These are proprietary cards which are used at retail stores or group of stores. Mail order houses are included. The store could be department, discount, shoe, clothing, automotive, hardware, furniture, etc. The key point is that the card can usually only be used at the merchant who issued it. Typically, credit criteria are less stringent than for bankcards.

Bank Cards

The phrase literally means any card issued by a bank but in popular usage is generally taken to mean a Visa or MasterCard, which constitutes the overwhelming majority of credit and debit cards issued by financial institutions. Any regulated depositary institution may join Visa or MasterCard, including banks, credit unions, savings banks, postal banks etc. The key thing is their multi-merchant acceptability. Bank cards originated in the early 1950’s, prior to the development of Visa and MasterCard. They were replaced by BankAmericard (1958) and Master Charge (1967). BankAmericard’s name changed to Visa about 1980 and Master Charge changed to MasterCard about the same time. Co-brand cards are Visa or MasterCard cards which have a store’s name on them. These can fit either the retail or bank card category. There are probably more than 25,000 different bank cards; most of them are Affinity cards.

Charge Plates

Charge-plates are aluminum or white metal plates, dog tag size, with the customer’s name and address embossed on them. The other side has a paperboard insert with the issuer’s name and a space for the holder’s signature. They were used until the early 60’s. They were issued mostly by department stores, a few oil companies, and store associations. A plate is more valuable with its case. Between 300 and 500 different ones are estimated to exist.

Hotel Cards

The first were issued in the 1920’s. Most of them through the 1940’s were of oversized paperboard. Many of the hotels no longer exist. Plastic hotel cards became available in the late 1950’s. Perhaps 500 to 800 different ones exist.

Affinity Cards

Also known as co-branding, these are bank cards issued in conjunction with an organization, business, club or any type of third-party. The third-party typically gets a small percentage of the revenue from the issuer. In a  few cases, only members of the third-party may hold the card. Colorful picture bankcards may illustrate themes or moods and may be considered affinity by  collectors. They date to the late 1980’s.  MBNA and FirstUSA have been big affinity issuers.. An estimated 15,000 to 30,000 designs exist.


Restaurant cards and private club cards include those who serve meals as well as actual restaurants.  Early cards dating from the 30’s and 40’s are paper. Probably 2,000 to 3,000 exist.

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