Are You Cool Enough to Get a Magnises Card?
By Christine DiGangi

Here are some questions you don't normally see on a credit card application:
  • Where did you go to school?
  • Where are your favorite places to dine out and shop?
  • What do you like to do for fun?
In short: Are you cool enough to be part of our club? That's what a luxury card called Magnises wants to know about applicants. Applicants are looking for an all-access pass to some of New York's most exclusive clubs, restaurants and retailers. If you make the cut, you're basically giving one of your credit or debit cards a facelift, from plastic to black stainless steel.

The Perks of Magnises

CEO Billy McFarland, 22, got the idea for Magnises (a made-up word with a nice ring to it, he said) when realized how little the benefits of his credit cards related to his lifestyle. He wanted something that impacted his day-to-day life, not a list of rewards he might earn a few times a year. "Let's make this card more community-based and offer perks that are actually relevant to and enhance your everyday life," he said. "It's got the restaurants you love, the clothing stores, the fitness clubs."

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%There's also a clubhouse in Manhattan where members can hang out, bring clients and network. If you get into the club, which opened in March, the annual membership fee is $250. Given the target audience for Magnises, that's reasonable.

"It occupies a little bit of the sweet spot," said Jason Steele, an expert on credit card products and contributor to A lot of high-end credit cards require an annual fee. "There's a lot of cards at $100, and a lot of cards are at $500."

The trick is getting accepted: There are about 2,000 Magnises members in New York, The company receives about 100 applications a day and accepts 25 percent to 35 percent. The typical Magnises member is about 28 years old.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-"It's a neat concept. ... It wouldn't surprise me if he's successful in New York." - Jason Steele%Steele said the concept reminded him of events some credit card issuers hold for their elite cardholders, but the Magnises clientele is a different crowd. "This is clearly appealing to a younger demographic who wants benefits that are tailored to their lifestyle, like nightclubs and shopping," Steele said. "It's a neat concept. I think this guy has really hit on something, and it wouldn't surprise me if he's successful in New York."

The network will soon expand to D.C., from which Magnises receives the most out-of-town requests, and after that Atlanta. McFarland said Magnises has a higher volume of requests from Los Angeles and San Francisco than Atlanta, but there's a significant demand from Atlanta, and the plan is to eventually expand westward. (Another clubhouse just opened in Rio de Janeiro.)

Steel vs. Plastic – Is Magnises Better Than a Credit Card?

Magnises is essentially a steel upgrade for an existing credit or debit card. The card data is duplicated in the magnetic stripe on Magnises, so it's processed the same way as your original card: Merchants still pay the processing fee, and you still earn any rewards associated with transactions on that card. As long as that card is valid, you can use it on Magnises, and if you need to change the account on your fancy status symbol, you can. There's also a mobile application for it.

Most people aren't cool enough to get in on the Magnises action. Even if you are, you have to be in New York to access the perks, so you're stuck with traditional credit cards for now. They may not be all-access passes to exclusive locations in the Big Apple, but these cards still carry serious benefits, and not all of them carry expensive fees.

Instead of an impressive social status, you'll need a great credit score to qualify for the best rewards cards. If you want to rack up benefits with your everyday spending habits, make sure your credit is in good standing before you apply (you don't want to apply if you don't think you'll get approved). You can review your credit data for free, including two free credit scores, through

Keep in mind you should always pay your rewards credit card balances in full every billing cycle, because rewards cards tend to carry higher interest rates than other cards (read a primer on APR, if you want to know more), and the cost of paying interest will likely outweigh the value of any rewards you're earning.
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