The Palladium Credit Card
Plastic. It's the one-word term used by many to mean "credit card" because, in almost all cases, credit cards are made out of that flexible, durable material. But not all cards are created equal. Early this year, investment bank J.P. Morgan Chase announced a new credit card, called the J.P. Morgan Palladium Card.
The card itself is made of a mix of palladium—a rare, silvery-white, and very shiny metal—and 23 karat gold. At current prices, the card, if melted, would fetch about $1,000 for its metal alone. The card's annual fee is only (only?) about half that, at $595. And that comes with free laser engraving—the cardholder's name is etched into the metallic card by the bank.
To start with, cardholders are given access to Marquis Jets, a private jet company which sells access to a fleet of roughly 800 private planes in increments of 25 hours. Palladium Card members receive one free hour—value starting at just over $5,000—per 25 purchased. And if you happen to be flying commercial, the card has you covered there, as well: access to private lounges in 600 airports worldwide; a free upgrade to first class when flying British Airways to London; and, if you're flying British Airways in business class elsewhere, well, how's a free ticket for a companion sound? Consider it done.
Other benefits: Need to be evacuated from an emergency situation? They'll pay for it, up to $100,000. If the airline loses your bag? J.P. Morgan will give you up to $500 to replace "essentials." And, heaven forbid, if you die while traveling, they'll pay up to a grand to bring your body back home. (The full list of benefits is available here.) Oh, and of course, the card has no pre-set spending limit.
All of this for $595? If you think that there has to be a catch, you are correct. Membership is limited to customers of a select group of J.P. Morgan private bank offerings. The average customer of one of these has over $30 million invested with the bank.
And at $30 million, what's $1,000 worth of palladium among friends?
BONUS FACT: Had the card been made of solid gold, its melt value would probably be about twice as much. And if it were issued in the spring of 1933, it would have likely been illegal, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6012, which outlawed private ownership of gold. Then again, it is unlikely anyone would have cared — while the Order was in effect, the government only prosecuted one person for violating its terms. (And even then, the government lost.)