Trends in Plastic Cards

Published Friday, 22 October, 2010

(As featured in the October 2010 issue of Print Professional)

Plastic: Cold, hard and profitable

by John Carr

In 1914, the year that saw the beginning of Charlie Chaplin's film career and World War I, the Western Union Co. introduced the first consumer charge card. It was printed on paper, required the balance be paid in full every month and was only good for use with Western Union. Nearly a century later, between credit cards, debit cards and gift cards, people are more likely to make a purchase with a plastic card than they are with cash.

Even in these tough economic times, plastic cards are a growing market. Payment processing company First Data Corp. reported the total dollar volume of gift card sales during the 2009 holiday shopping season increased nearly 17 percent over the same period in 2008. From January through June 2010, malls in particular saw a 20 percent increase in gift card sales over the past year. To put that in context, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, overall consumer spending only increased by approximately 3.2 percent during the first half of 2010.

The following is just a sampling of the card products offered by manufacturers making strides to broaden their plastic card offerings.

Suncoast Identification Solutions—Laminated Card

  • Measures: 33⁄8x21⁄8"
  • Printed with full color and manufactured with a synthetic core and top-grade laminate
  • Available with barcode, magnetic stripe or signature panel

For more information, visit