President Obama has at least one credit card. We know that because, embarrassingly, it was declined last year (almost certainly by an overzealous security application on his issuer's computer systems) in a Manhattan restaurant. Unfortunately, many of his predecessors endured life before plastic was invented. But which of today's cards would have suited which POTUS (President of the United States)?
Ultimate Fighting Championship Card for Abraham Lincoln
Huh? Ultimate Fighting Championship credit card for Abraham Lincoln? Yes, he was a war leader, but that's not the same thing at all.
It turns out that Abe could hold his own in a street fight. Soon after he arrived in New Salem, Illinois, in 1831, Lincoln's boss at the general store backed up his boasting about his new employee's strength by wagering $10 that Abraham could beat the six-foot four-inch, 214-pound and appropriately named Jack Armstrong in a fight. Lincoln won, humiliating one of the town's most notorious bullies, and became a minor local hero.
Hooters MasterCard for Bill Clinton
We're used to the White House being home to various dogs and cats. Nixon had the famous Checkers during his vice-presidency, but, sadly, the little cocker spaniel never made it to the Residence. But for well over a century there's been a dog, a cat (remember Socks?) or both roaming the most prestigious home on Pennsylvania Avenue (or, arguably, the world).
By the way, Socks was an odd choice for the Clinton White House, given that the President suffers from an allergy to cat dander. Maybe the First Lady bought him during one of those times her husband was in the, er, doghouse. Perhaps she'd found a Hooters MasterCard in his wallet. If he didn't have one, you can't help but think that he (along, perhaps, with JFK) should have.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Card for Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams
Some presidents kept more unusual animals during their terms. Calvin Coolidge had a veritable menagerie, including a donkey, a thrush, a goose, a bobcat and two raccoons called Rebecca and Reuben. Theodore Roosevelt's six kids kept a pony, snakes and a badger, as well as more conventional pets. Indeed, when little Quentin Roosevelt's big brother Archie was sick in bed, the boy decided to cheer him up with a visit from the pony -- using the White House elevator to transport the animal. If Jacqueline Kennedy's horse Sardar ever made the same trip, history neglected to record it.
Many presidents have received exotic animals (elephants, tigers, pygmy hippos ... it's a long list) as gifts from foreign leaders. However, while some would argue that a lot of thick-skinned individuals have occupied the Oval Office, those pachyderms and the other creatures generally made their ways directly to zoos, without passing through the Rose Garden. So, none of the commanders in chief yet mentioned -- nor Woodrow Wilson, under whose watchful eye a flock of sheep grazed on the White House lawn during World War I -- seemed so interested in wildlife as to want a WWF card.
But either Thomas Jefferson or John Quincy Adams might have been up for one. The former kept two bears in a cage on the White House lawn, and from time to time would take them for walks, a practice the modern-day Secret Service might take issue with. The latter, John Quincy Adams, kept an alligator in a bathroom in the Residence.
There have been no other recorded instances of alligators in any of the 35 bathrooms in the modern White House, which may have something to do with the preferences of campaign contributors. They may say they'd give their right arms for a night in the Lincoln Bedroom, but they don't mean it literally.
Diners Club for William Howard Taft and Grover Cleveland
Speaking of White House bathrooms, it's probably a myth that William Howard Taft got stuck in one of their tubs. But there was a reason why even his supporters called him "Big Billy."
On inauguration, in 1909, Taft weighed in at 354 pounds. That would hardly count as skinny now, but the average weight of an American male back then was 165-170 pounds, compared to 185 pounds now. The president was, literally, twice the man his (all male, at the time) electors were. Grover Cleveland was another president who suffered from obesity
They would, no doubt, have appreciated all the many rewards credit cards that today offer bonus points on dining experiences.
Medical Credit Cards for No Presidents at All
It may sometimes not feel like it, but most American presidents have been pretty smart guys. So few would have been likely to have fallen for sales pitches for modern medical credit cards, many of which deliver poor value and contain horrific "gotcha" clauses. Mainstream credit cards that offer 0-percent APRs for extended periods on purchases are usually a better bet for covering unexpected medical bills.
But plenty of past presidents have endured poor health, including yellow fever, dysentery and malaria. Healthline.com names 11, starting with Andrew Jackson: "He suffered from rotting teeth, chronic headaches, failing eyesight, bleeding in his lungs, internal infection, and pain from two bullet wounds from two separate duels." You have to be really happy there wasn't a nuclear button handy back then.
Franklin D. Roosevelt had severe polio (his subsequent funding led to the discovery of the vaccine) and possibly anorexia. Warren Harding had several mental disorders. And JFK famously had Addison's disease.
Even though former presidents started getting health benefits only in 1958, and then -- absent other service -- only two-term ones qualify under the Federal Employees Health Benefit program, it's exceedingly unlikely any has used a medical credit card -- or wished they'd been invented.
Lowe's Consumer Credit Card for All Presidents
It takes 570 gallons of paint to cover the outside surfaces of the White House. And you don't get miles on Airforce One. Wouldn't you go for the credit card rewards, if you were POTUS?
By the way, the Brits still haven't paid for the paint job needed after they dropped by in 1814, and failing to collect that has to be a missed deficit-reduction/reward-earning opportunity.
Whether or not you spend this year's President's Day petitioning Buckingham Palace for 570 gallons of white paint, have a good one.