A mint condition St. Louis Cardinals NFL Visa, with an expiration date of 05/89, sold for $125.00 in 1990. The previous record price set a few months previously was $75.00. What in the world was going on?
What are NFL credit cards?
National Football League cards have been popular since their inception in the 1980s. All but one team’s card was available from Citibank. Citibank is known for its “relatively easy” credit and generosity with giving out additional cards. Sometimes Citibank is lovingly referred to as “The Big Easy,” which makes it the ideal issuer and the NFL series so popular with collectors.
What makes the St. Louis Cardinals NFL credit card special?
Citibank issued the St. Louis Cardinals NFL Visa for only a few months before the team moved to become the Phoenix Cardinals. No one knows how many credit card collectors got the St. Louis card or how many cards they each got. It appears since the St. Louis card was only issued for a short period, many “old” collectors figured they’d work on getting a set of current cards first and “worry” about the short-lived St. Louis one later. With new collectors entering the hobby on a regular basis, and their interest also focused on the NFL series, there appeared to be pent-up demand.
Anyone who wants all the teams for the NFL series must have the St. Louis card. Many old collectors appear to have waited until they finished their collections to get it. The new collectors, seeing the price of it, appear to want it at the start of their collections before prices move possibly even higher. Everyone seems to want it at once. But as the price rises, will the demand subside, or will the St. Louis card take-off from this level, to even higher prices, since the demand appears to be strong?
The price could continue up, but a lot of it depends on what collectors think constitutes a complete set. As long as you have the current 28 teams for the NFL, don’t you have a complete set? You might think you do. Based on that, you don’t need a St. Louis credit card.
Different types of NFL credit cards
Another way of looking at it is that NFL Visas are issued with the old large hologram. The new smaller Visa hologram has been in use for a year and the older larger one is being discontinued.
Because of this, many new collectors will probably start collections with the new smaller hologram cards when they’re released. Many new collectors might want their sets to be composed of cards with the same type of hologram. If new collectors only want small hologram sets, then they won’t be concerned about larger hologram cards. The St. Louis Cardinals is a large hologram. It won’t be needed for a small hologram set.
On the other hand, a different way of looking at it is the St. Louis card is the key to the entire series. Being the key card means if you don’t have it, then you don’t have a complete set. However you want to view the St. Louis card and figure its potential, there’s a lot of guesswork involved.
Copyright 1990 by Greg Tunks