As a new collector, you might be wondering about the differences between credit cards in terms of type and variety. You’re probably curious, as you should be, about the differences between the major and minor varieties or changes in the credit card field.
Of course, there are obvious minor changes in the wording, especially the ones found on the back of your credit card. For example, American Express cards typically have tiny print on the back about where the card was made. You might want to know whether the cards with minor changes can be considered as distinct types.
Difference between types and varieties of credit cards
The first thing we need to do is define type and variety.
- Type refers to a credit card’s basic dominant design
- Variety is a minor change from the basic type design
The renewal cards (oil company, bank, etc.) and the minor changes on the back of the American Express are all a variety of changes. A type change would be the Visa and MasterCard when they changed from the pre-hologram to the hologram card. Both cards’ designs were completely changed. Generally, the only people who are interested in variety changes are a specialist in that particular area.
Which credit cards to collect?
If you’re concentrating your collecting efforts on American Express cards, you might want to get one of every variety to have a complete set. On the other hand, it would be sufficient for the gas card specialist to own one American Express card, as long as the type wasn’t changed.
But when American Express changes their overall design to a new type, then gas card specialists would probably be interested in adding another example of the American Express card to their collection. Only the American Express card specialist would be concerned with a variety change such as the changing of a few words on the back of the card.
Advantage of becoming a specialist
Many people think that specializing by variety is ridiculous, but they might not understand the advantage the specialist has.
An example is the American Express Green Card. When the Green Card first came out, it was manufactured with the Roman soldier’s profile larger than the current size. These were manufactured from March 1969 thru August 1970. Then in September 1970, the profile was reduced to the current size. Also the words, “The Money Card”, were added to the cards front right. This variety was manufactured thru September 1972. Then in October 1972 the words, “The Money Card”, were moved to the cards top center. “The Money Card” centered was manufactured thru November 1973. Look what we know by being a specialist:
- Large profile manufactured 3-69 thru 8-70 = 18 months
- Small profile, “Money” to right ” 9-70 ” 9-72 = 25 months
- Small profile, “Money” centered ” 10-72 ” 11-73 = 14 months
Opportunities for specialist collectors
Being a specialist and collecting varieties can create opportunities.
The specialist can buy a major rarity for half of what it should be selling for. It pays to specialize and know your varieties. In credit card collecting, the more knowledge you have the more opportunity you’ll be able to embrace. Know types and varieties and you’ll be able to identify rarities.
Copyright 1986 by Greg Tunks