This is a thread for reviews of debit/credit/prepaid cards themselves (the actual card plastic, not the account, company, etc). Here’s some of mine to start. I’m really excited to read yours! I’ll be adding more later, too, so check back this post again in a couple days This is not in any way a review of the product, and it’s entirely subjective, of course, that’s part of the fun. Please take my calling a card ugly light-hearted We all have our own taste.
Card Plastic Reviews
Monzo white core edition
The reason we’re all here, but I don’t have the nicer coral core. Overall, this is a beautiful card. It’s well-made and feels robust. The texture is matte, but high quality. The background colour printing is more neon orange than hot coral, and needs a tad more red (I’ve heard this is fixed in the coral core edition). It’s an embossed card, which is generally not my favourite, but the white lettering has seemed quite robust and the simple, iconic design is striking. The core is definitely the downfall, as the sandwich design results in it appearing greyish and unappealing. The contact pad is a larger six contact pad, using a circular ring design that feels a bit dated, but is still a design classic. A three-track magstripe is used, which isn’t my preference, but it doesn’t look bad in the overall design. The lack of sort code and account number make for a very clean debit design, and preferred name is a nice bonus!
score - 9/10
Virgin Money rainbow card
I just got this card tonight, and it’s a design that should be great, let down by rather poor execution. This unembossed card has small, low-contrast, difficult to read printing. Making matters worse, there is no protective layer over the printing, and I have low hopes for the long-term durability. This is the first unembossed card I’ve had where I doubt the ability of the printing to withstand wear. The rainbow flag itself and the Virgin Money logo show compression artefacts and a halo effect. This problem does not extend to the Mastercard logo, so it’s a graphic design issue. It uses a modern small 6-contact chip and a two-track magstripe. The core is white and the surface finish glossy, giving a rather cheap overall look. You must pick a title, and there are no gender-neutral options, which harms the experience for customers (including myself) not fully identifying with any of these titles. The upside-down front art adds some additional character, but ultimately is just confusing in use.
score - 6/10
TransferWise Borderless Account debit card
Again, a new addition to my collection tonight. This neon green card feels rather Monzo-inspired, but is less simplistic. ‘Hello world.’ is printed in large sans-serif lettering, leaving no doubt as to the intended use of the card. An activation code is embossed under the name, for little apparent long-term purpose. It uses a small 6-contact chip and a two-track magstripe, but the actual design has been designed around a three-track magstripe, leaving an awkward gap below the magstripe. ‘License’ is used instead of ‘licence’ showing poor regional checking, and the phone number is formatted incorrectly. A notch in the right hand side of the card both adds character and an accessible tactile element, a nice touch. Overall, the materials feel good and the card has a quality feeling, despite the white core - the bright white core matches the white printing. Poor art layout, spelling and formatting errors really let down this potentially excellent design, but it’s still very nice.
score - 8/10
This card could appear next to ‘ugly card’ in a dictionary. It isn’t for lack of effort, there are metallic and shimmer elements giving a nice touch, but ultimately the card just feels cheap. Shiny plastic and a back design overwhelmed by the three-track magstripe make this white core card look less than classy. A small 6-contact contact pad is featured on the front, but traditional silver lettering foil over embossing is used, which is prone to wear. Effort has been put to add some nice elements to the design, but the overall package isn’t winning me over.
score - 3/10
American Express Rewards Credit Card (UK) / Blue Cash (US)
This iconic clear card has always been one of my favourite designs. The contactless antenna (a thin wire design that lives entirely above the embossing area was chosen) is clearly visible, connected to the chip sitting below a modern small six-contact pad. A two-track magstripe in silver is used and the card is generally well designed. A holographic blue square (inspired by the Amex logo) creates a stunning visual centre to the front, though it would be nice to align around the magstripe on the back, which doesn’t seem to have been taken into account. The silver-foiled embossing is the biggest letdown of this card, and quite prone to wear. Due to this, I’m taking a point off, but this is nearing card perfection.
score - 9/10
Discover (US) Pride
This beautiful card cannot be captured well in photographs. A metallic rainbow made of dots blending into white is simultaneously fun and premium, in this orange-cored card that is both unmistakably Discover, yet also unique. High-contrast, readable and coated printing create a durable and easy to read back that looks good on this unembossed card, laid against an elegant metallic purple. Simple and beautiful, fun yet quality, this design is one of my absolute favourites. A modern small six-contact pad is used, but unfortunately, contactless is missing from this card. This is really the card’s only letdown, and would be a perfect 10 if contactess was added. Support for mobile payments, however, renders this a mostly moot point, so only one point will be deducted.
score - 9/10
MBNA Everyday Plus
This now-discontinued to new applications American Express Network card is in the running for ugliest card designs ever. The entire card is quite monochromatic and matte, though its small six-contact pad and two-track magnetic stripe at least allow a sense of minimalism. The front artwork appears to be a speaker grille, but this has no relation to any of the branding for the product. This short-lived card clearly didn’t see the greatest investment in graphic design, though it is redeemed by not being too garish - it’s not shiny and it doesn’t have an excessively cheap feel (though the look is), thus giving it an equal score to the equally ugly Halifax Clarity.
score - 3/10
Metro Bank Debit Card
This clean embossed red, white and blue design looks good, if basic. A red three-track magnetic stripe and red core complement each other well, giving a sense of coordination. The matte finish is durable to scratches, and the overall design excellent. As these are embossed in-store, I’ve seen excess embossing tape and missing ink on the CVC2. Presumably the quality control checks aren’t done as frequently as they would be at a dedicated card printing facility. The ‘From abroad’ phone number is formatted incorrectly (listing the area code as 203 and not 20). A modern small six-contact chip is used, and this is another case where less really is more. A simple, timeless design.
score - 8/10
Charlies Schwab Bank (US) Visa Debit
This beautiful, sparkling pearl embossed debit card portrays an elegant and classy look. Embedded glitter makes it shine, but the monochromatic theme keeps it upscale. The world map (made of the Schwab square) and ‘Own your tomorrow’ tagline are inspiring and motivational. The back, sadly, isn’t quite as nice. A modern small six-contact pad is used, but contactless is missing. The card is white cored and has a plain black two-track magstripe, but these both go well with the overall monochromatic look.
score - 9/10
Lloyds Bank Classic Current Account
This dark green card is dominated by the Lloyds horse logo, which is no bad thing. It feels quite ‘outdoorsy’ and inspiring in its own right. A black three-track magstripe doesn’t feel out of place on the dark green, and the black core significantly improves the overall look of this embossed card. Small details like smooth gradients and a dot pattern make the graphic design feel professional and well-thought out. A small six contact chip is used and the matte surface feels durable and rugged. That all said, there’s something rather… traditional about this card that, for me, reduces the appeal significantly.
score - 6/10