Prestige Plastic

A gold rush in credit

Although American Express Co. began issuing gold credit cards to affluent consumers as far back as 1966, the business is now springing to life as one of the hottest and most competitive new forms of financial service. Visa introduced a gold card in April, while MasterCard launched its version last July. The bank credit card firms are convinced that the market for prestige credit extends far beyond the 2 million cardholders who now carry the American Express gold.

The gilded credit cards operate much like regular ones. Consumers can use them to charge a meal, an airline ticket...

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