It’s fair to say these days that most restaurants accept nearly every credit card brand out there. Some cards guarantee reservations for members, others promise preferred access, some offer discounts. And while restaurant patrons are familiar with – and probably have at least two of the major credit cards in their wallets – the search for differentiation and innovation among card brands continue.

But here’s a credit card innovation from a new source: Le Grande Epiciere de Paris. The advertising copy translates as follows: “Eating on the run? Here’s a credit card made up of a detachable mini spoon and fork, perfect for salads and yogurt. And once you have finished eating, the tea tablet becomes a refreshing towel soaked in perfumed water.” The credit card is available through Bon Marché, 38 rue de Sévres, 75007, Paris.

US credit cards have changed little over the past 50 years, Most are just a piece of plastic punched with ID numbers, labeled with security features, some with holographic images, and a magnetic strip. OK, there’s been dabbling with RFID, but innovation, such as it is, has generally resided in the extra-value services provided by the card carrier. But that’s just a credit card poker game. What’s provided by one card one day, is matched by another card the next, and innovation and delight turn into table stakes.

But happily, on an emotional level, consumers endow brands with values and benefits beyond the sum of their basic – even gold or platinum level – parts. According to our most recent Loyalty Leaders List, here’s how credit card brands rank when it comes to innovation:

1. American Express
2. Discover
3. Capital One
4. Visa
5. MasterCard

Will standard credit card programs and rewards satisfy consumers’ appetites for innovation? Not according to the category’s leading-indicator loyalty expectations. Even in a down economy, expectations for differentiating card aspects have increased by 22% over the past two years, which provides a real opportunity for brand who know what to cook up and how to meaningfully serve up innovation.

And these days if you want to keep your customers loyal, the last thing you want is for them to walk away from your brand hungering for something else!