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NO MORE GOLD, SILVER OR PLATINUM CREDIT CARDS

My wallet is already so fat it's worn holes in the seats of my last couple of pairs of work slacks before the rest of the material collapsed.

But I guess credit card companies haven't been watching this major international development because they keep sending me more opportunities to get some platinum gold bronze silver plastic with low annual percentage rates or no annual fee or airline miles or contributions to my favorite charity or the logo of my favorite college football team emblazoned on the platinum plastic.

I don't suppose I'm unique in feeling overwhelmed with credit card offers, but out of curiousity I decided to save my mail for a month and see what turned up. I threw all the unsolicited mail I got for November into a box and then tabulated the results.

Well, as you guessed and I was too witless to realize in advance, the winner was catalogs oriented to the coming Christmas season.

There was the Guide to Performing Arts with 2,000 calendars inside. There was the baseball video catalog. There was Disney's Wonderful World of Reading (our youngest is 16). There were Best Buy, Lillian Vernon, Micron PC, Ashton-Drake Galleries and Gateway.

And I can't think of the last time I bought something from a catalog. If I had, the catalog load would probably be herniating the mail carrier.

While catalogs dominated, I was also hit with what I have found to be a growing category -- alumni solicitations.

UCLA, which cheerfully ignored me for 20 years, discovered my whereabouts only a couple of years after they decided they couldn't trust Sacramento anymore and would go to work on the endowment fund. Then, they found my wife, although they think she went to the School of Engineering when she was an art major.

I was tracked down by the privately funded student housing complex where I lived while I went to grad school in New York City. Guess what, they need financial help.

In the end, I received nine credit card offers, plus three letters from another card that doesn't seem to realize I canceled six months ago and an offer of "free" checks from one of our current cards. "Free" checks involves borrowing money from them in the hope I won't pay them back in full each month.

I don't know whether my economic status has suddenly been exalted without my knowing about it, or whether they simply don't do non-metal plastic anymore. But every card that was offered was platinum.

Actually, the Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney card offers weren't platinum. But the two retailers, by the way, were by far the most expensive cards offered -- with Wal-Mart at a 15.99 percent APR introductory rate and J.C. Penney at 21 percent.

All the offers, except one, skipped the annual fee. The introductory annual rates ran from 0 percent to 9.9 percent and the long-term rates from 9.9 percent up to the mid-teens for some based on the prime rate.

The one card with a fee also came with a fairly wide open airline miles offer. The exchange rate was the standard one mile of air time for each dollar charged on the card.

Of course, air miles weren't the only come-on. I could have my card decorated with art work from Michelangelo or Van Gogh.

Or, I could proudly proclaim my Irish heritage by putting an Irish flag in the upper right-hand corner and a Celtic Cross behind the raised lettering. Alternatively, I could lie to get that Swedish Moonlight motif -- not pictured but definitely tempting.

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