You Gotta Give Him Credit… …WHEN Credit is Due, (or before the next billing period, whichever comes first)
By Stuart Rankin
Have you looked in your mailbox lately? If you have, then you most likely have been flooded with credit card applications. What did you do with them? I thought so, you threw them out. Sometimes there might be a diamond in the rough. Read on!!!
Affinity credit cards are all the rage. These cards provide benefits to the sponsoring group based on a small percentage of cardholder purchases. Even our beloved toy train clubs and manufacturers have gotten in on the action.
The Train Collectors Association (TCA) got things started in the mid 1990’s with a Visa® card from First Western Bancorp, Inc. This card is orange with the TCA logo in green. MBNA took over the TCA affinity credit card program in the late 1990’s. As with most credit cards, they are offered in three flavors, Preferred, Gold, and Platinum. The TCA Preferred card has a blue border with a photo of a Standard Gauge Blue Comet. The photo appears to have been taken on the layout at The National Toy Train Museum. The TCA logo is in red on the photo image. The Gold and Platinum cards are much more sterile. They’re just gold or silver in color with the TCA logo in black in the upper left hand corner.
Around the same time that the TCA program transferred to MBNA, the Toy Train Operating Society (TTOS) joined with MBNA to issue a MasterCard. The TTOS Preferred card has a black border with an image of a painting done by Angela Trotta Thomas. The black and white TTOS logo is in the upper left hand corner. The Gold and Platinum cards have the TTOS logo in black in the upper left hand corner on an appropriately colored background.
Now that MBNA was on a roll, they wanted to spread their wings. This time instead of forming a partnership with a toy train club, they teamed with a toy train manufacturer. It was none other than the world famous Lionel®. The 1952 catalog graces the Lionel Preferred MasterCard, which has a blue border. While the Gold and Platinum cards are the typically bland monochrome versions, they feature the stylish Lionel Trains® American Legend logo in black in the upper left hand corner.
Advanta Bank Corp. is one of the many credit card companies that will put your company name on the credit card. The Preferred MasterCard is black with white swirls throughout, the Gold card is “champagne” in color with swirls throughout, and the Platinum card is a solid gray/silver. The company name, such as Lionel Trains®, is embossed below the account holders name and printed in large metallic letters along the top of the card.
Nextcard will put almost any image on the face of a Visa credit card on a case-by-case request. The Postwar style Lionel® Legendary Trains logo is a nice fit.
AT&T had a program called Personal Choice. With this program, you could get a calling card with your “personal choice” of an account number (name). Limited to 9 characters (letters or numbers), what better way to show your love for the hobby than “luvlionel”.
So there you have it. The perfect way to buy your toy trains, how you’ll pay for them is up to you.