Walter Cavanagh of Santa Clara, Calif., holds the Guinness Book of World Records title of "Mr. Plastic Fantastic," and Money revisited his story earlier this week. As it recounts, Cavanagh has 1,497 valid credit cards, adding up to $1.7 million in available credit. The wild stats don't end there: His custom wallet, the world's longest, stretches 250 feet, weighs 38 pounds, and can hold only 800 of his many cards, not that he carries them around: The Los Angeles Times reported in a 2004 profile that all but one (which he uses and pays off in full in each month, giving him nearly perfect credit) are kept in a safe-deposit box. Cavanagh's card collection started as "silly bet" with a friend nearly half a century ago. Whoever collected the most cards by the end of the year would win a dinner. The final score: 143-138 in Cavanagh's favor.
With credit cards from gas stations, airlines, and an ice cream store, Cavanagh says he's only been denied credit once, by the now-defunct JJ Newberry Co., which said he had too much credit already. To maintain his title (which he's held since 1971, per ABC News), Cavanagh has to keep amassing cards. If a card isn't valid any more, he doesn't count it as part of his collection. Cavanagh isn't the only collector of plastic. The American Credit Card Collectors Society was formed in 1994 and holds regular conventions. But 29% of Americans actually have no plastic, per an April 2014 Gallup survey cited by MarketWatch. A third of us have one or two, and only 7% have seven or more. (Here's why you should freeze your credit reports.)