How to value credit cards
Credit card values depend upon eight major factors:
- Age: In general, older cards are worth more.
- Condition: Many collectors prefer mint-condition unused and unsigned cards, which were often originally acquired by a collector when issued for collection purposes. Any card that has been heavily used is usually severely degraded in value, unless it’s quite rare.
- Rarity: Some types of cards are quite common and have little value, such as green American Express cards or some of the ordinary Citibank cards. Because they were issued in such high numbers for so many years without change, many have been preserved. On the other hand, many of the thousands of types of affinity cards were issued in small numbers and may be extremely unusual, which increases their value.
- Brand: Certain brands tend to carry premium prices, such as older purple American Express cards or relatively obscure gas and oil brands. For example, an original AmEx paper card from 1959 recently sold for $1,200, one of the highest prices ever recorded. Black AmEx cards also trade for a high premium.
- Attractiveness: Many collectors prefer cards with interesting designs or pictures. Affinity or theme cards with a full color picture usually carry a premium over one with just a corporate design, a logo or a reduced image.
- Celebrity: Cards featuring celebrities may demand a premium, such as the Elvis Presley, Rolling Stones or KISS cards. Cards that actually belonged to a celebrity, with documentation, may carry very high premiums, such as the recent sale of eight department store cards that belonged to actress Katherine Hepburn.
- Landmark: The relatively few cards that established industry landmarks are worth more. An example is the very first Visa card issued.
- Extras: In a few cases, other items are available along with a card, such as original mailing envelope, card carrier, and so forth. This always increases the value of the card.
How much should I pay for a credit card?
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to give a valuation range for specific types of cards. Since there is no dealer of credit cards and no fixed price list anywhere, all trades of collectible cards have negotiable prices, whether they’re sold via auction or through one-on-one transactions.
The ACCCS has several knowledgeable collectors who may be able to advise other members about the value of particular cards. Since most collectors specialize in some sub-set, members seeking advice should contact the club to get a recommendation.