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new cool best high technology gadgets gift Amex Black CardI had lunch with a wealthy friend today, and at the end of the meal he pulled out his black American Express card, which is now made of anodized titanium. The Amex Black Card is one of those legends that just had to become true: according to Wikipedia, American Express decided to launch the card only after urban legends of a mysterious, super-powerful credit card had circulated around the country.

Here’s the problem, though: a titanium credit card is very impractical. For one thing, it makes your wallet noticeably heavier. The titanium interferes with some swipe machines, so you find yourself having to hand over your Black Card to shopkeepers for them to punch in the numbers by hand. And it sets off airport metal detectors.

That’s when I realized: it’s enforced conspicuous consumption. This card literally demands to be seen. “Excuse me, Mr. Low-Paid TSA Worker. Will you take my black titanium credit card through the security machine?” or “Excuse me, Ms. Overworked Waitress. Will you pay special attention to my black titanium credit card?”

All this just annoys my friend, who is an inconspicuous consumer and preferred the old plastic version. I guess Amex feels they need to offer something weighty to folks spending $2,500 a year for the privilege of carrying a limited-edition credit card.

(Oh, and that’s my finger.)


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