Working up a credit score for Walter Cavanagh has got to be a mathematical nightmare – the man has nearly 1,500 valid credit cards to his name and holds the Guinness record for the most credit cards. ‘Mr. Plastic Fantastic’ – a title conferred on him by Guinness World Records – is also the proud owner of the world’s longest wallet. It stretches 250 feet, weighs 38 pounds, and can hold 800 cards. But he uses it only to carry a few cards, while the rest are safely stowed in bank safe-deposit boxes.
Cavanagh started collecting credit cards in the late 1960s. “Me and a buddy in Santa Clara, Calif., made a silly bet: the guy who could collect the most credit cards by the end of the year would win dinner,” he recalled. “I was fresh from the Peace Corps and I got 143 cards by the end of the year. My friend gathered 138.”
After winning that bet, Cavanagh decided to simply keep going with his bizarre collection. He got credit cards from gas stations, airlines, bars, and even a Texas ice cream store – all with varying limits, some as low as $50. He’s got a few antique cards back from when credit cards were made of paper and aluminum and he recently inherited a sterling silver card from the Mapes Hotel, Reno’s first hotel-casino. It’s a collector’s item with “unlimited credit privileges.”
If there’s one card missing from Cavanagh’s epic collection, it’s that from the long defunct J.J. Newberry Co. They denied him a card in the early 1970s, even though he’d collected over 100 by then. “They said I had too much credit. And to this day I don’t have a Newberry card in my collection,” he said. Cavanagh hasn’t stopped applying for new cards – he’s held the Guinness Record since 1971 and has no intention of letting go of it. He copies whole pages from a U.S. directory of businesses and keeps sending applications. If he receives a rejection, he now writes back to the company explaining his goal and intentions. But he doesn’t count expired cards in his total collection.
Thanks to all the cards to his name, Cavanagh has access to about $1.7 million at any moment. Despite this privilege, he has managed to maintain an excellent credit score. “It’s nearly perfect,” he said, proudly. “I use only one card and I pay it off at the end of the month. But you should see the length of my credit report – wow!”
via ABC News and O’Central