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Innovations and Payment Systems

Artist peddling designs for your credit card

Summary

Anthony Adams makes unique credit card designs and skins. Read more at CreditCards.com.

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Anthony Adams vowed that he was done with credit cards after holding a part-time telemarketing job selling Visa Platinum cards. “I saw how aggressive the card companies were,” he says. Yet in February 2007, he founded a company that sells covers or “skins” that you can stick over the front of a credit card, covering a prosaic bank logo with, for example, a hollow-eyed buzzard, its wings spread over a banner saying “Bloodsucking Financial Institution” and with the words “Debt” and “Ruin” appearing on two Doric temples in the background. “It’s kind of ironic I started a company that makes covers for credit cards since I’m not a big believer in them,” Adams says.

Anthony AdamsIn the past few months, Adams, 26, has sold thousands of the $4.99 covers, which come in nine designs. Right now he sells mostly through his website, CreditCovers.com, but several major banks have expressed an interest in marketing the covers. Upcoming skins will feature artwork by young designers such as Todd Francis, the skateboard artist (the buzzard is his design), and Matthew Langille, who designs T-shirts for Marc Jacobs. One skin turns a credit card into a white iPod-like object.

Adams, who has a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, quit a job as executive director of a nonprofit to start CreditCovers. “We’ve taken that real estate away from the banks,” he says gleefully. He sees a use for the skins beyond rebellion and fashion. “If Spider-Man 3 wants to promote its product by putting its message on a credit card cover, then we’ve created another advertising channel,” he says.

Adams is never without the cards below, which are, of course, skinned.

Type of card: Discover Card
Issuer: Discover
Year obtained: 2000
Business or personal: Personal
Interest rates over its life: “Around 10 percent”
Fees: None
Credit limit: $10,000. “They’ve offered to increase it, which I don’t want.”
Perks: “Cash back on business purchases.”
Customer service: “Automated phone tree. I recently had to change my address, and it was surprisingly accurate for a computer automated system.”
Current usage: “I use it a lot, but I never carry a balance.”
The bottom line: “I don’t see the point of going into debt, so I pay off the balance before incurring any charges.”

Type of card: MasterCard Debit Card, with PayPal
Issuer: JP Morgan Chase
Year obtained: 2006
Business or personal: Personal
Interest rates over its life: None
Fees: None
Credit limit: N/A
Perks: “I get 5.05 percent interest through the option they have to invest your bank balance in a money-market fund, which is an amazing rate. I also get a great exchange rate when I travel.”
Customer service:
“PayPal is great.”
Current usage: “Weekly.”
The bottom line: “It allows me to access my PayPal account balance at any ATM, or to use it anywhere MasterCard is accepted. It’s awesome.”

Type of card: MasterCard Check Card
Issuer: Associated Bank
Year obtained: 2006
Business or personal: One of each
Interest rates over its life: None
Fees: None
Credit limit: N/A
Perks: “Great customer service.”
Customer service: “I can call a real rep at Associated anytime, and they’ll help me out. Calling to have money transferred between my accounts takes about 60 seconds.”
Current usage: Frequent
The bottom line: “They don’t give me free checks like my credit union did, but they are professional and I trust their ability to execute.”

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Published: August 2, 2007

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