Black Credit Cards
The Black credit card made its debut in 1999 under the American Express logo as an exclusive card for its most valuable cardholders. In 2008 Visa came out with its own version. The idea was to produce a high value card with luxurious benefits that would allow card issuers to charge high annual fees for exclusive access to travel and luxury experiences.
There is prestige associated with having a black credit card. Years ago the gold card was issued as the elite card of the day. When everyone started carrying a gold card the platinum card was introduced as a prestigious card. Today it is the black credit card that is seen as elite.
With the high standards needed to qualify and the often high annual fees, which can be as high as thousands of dollars per year, many consumers have not jumped on board. Popular black credit cards include the American Express Centurion Card, Merrill Lynch’s Accolades American Express Card, Natwest Black Credit Card, Dubai First Royale MasterCard, Visa Black, and the MasterCard Elite World Black Card.
Qualifying for a Black Credit Card
Higher income requirements. The Black cards were established to be exclusive meaning they are harder to qualify for. Income requirements are generally for applicants who make over $100,000 a year and some cards set the bar at higher than $200,000 a year.
Higher net worth. In addition to high income the card issuers are looking for customers with high net worth and sound debt management. Since many cards do not have any limits and when limits are set they can be as high as $500,000, card issuers only want to offer cards to applicants that manage credit well and have the net worth to support high spending availability.
High credit scores. Card issuers are looking for applicants that have credit in the 800’s or at least high 70’s. As this is an unsecured debt, having low debt payments with existing high spending limits is a basic criteria. High credit scores indicate that the applicant is using credit wisely and able to be responsible with higher limits.
Benefits of a Black Credit Card
What does a high annual fee buy you? Each company has a different annual fee and a different reward structure. Here are some of the most sought after cards.
American Express Centurion Card
This black card can only be obtained by invitation. There is a personal and a business card and they have no spending limits. The balance must be paid in full each billing period and there are no foreign transaction fees. There is a onetime set up fee of $5,000 and an annual fee of $2,500, making this a very exclusive card. The credit card earns points that equate to 1 point for every dollar spent. The real benefits come from the concierge service which can get tickets to exclusive events and reservations to exclusive restaurants and venues. The benefits extend to hotel rooms, airline tickets and more. The card also offers a $200 rebate per calendar year for an airline ticket. If you travel extensively this card can be very beneficial to have, even with its high price tag. This is the most expensive black card on the market.
Merrill Lynch Accolades Black Card
This card requires applicants to have over $200,000 invested with Merrill Lynch. The card offers an annual fee of only $295 dollars and does not require a credit check. It is one of the few black cards with a credit limit which can be as high as $500,000 dollars. The benefits to the card includes a generous rewards program, concierge services, with discounts and upgrades for both hotels and flights. Priority passes to airport lounges and luxury experiences are also offered to cardholders. The concierge service is like having a personal assistant. They can arrange travel, get tickets to exclusive events and restaurants and even purchase and have gifts delivered.
Natwest Black Credit Card
This card is only available to residents of the UK and is available to Natwest customers who qualify. The card has an annual fee of £288 pounds a year. It offers 1.25 points for every £1 spent. To qualify you must have at least £100,000 in Natwest bank accounts and a credit limit is offered based on credit worthiness.
Dubai First Royale MasterCard
This is the most exclusive card in the world had has only a few hundred cardholders. While this card has no annual fee, it is offered by invitation only and reserved for billionaires. The card offers exclusive concierge service and seeks to provide anything the cardholder asks for. The card also gives 4% back on all purchases but is only available in the United Arab Emirates.
Visa Black Card
The Visa black card offers benefits like discounts on hotel rooms and double value of points redeemed for airline miles. It provides airport lounge passes and 24 hour concierge service. Card holders can also obtain luxury experiences and gifts, like most of the other black cards available on the market. The annual fee for the Visa Black card is $495 and it will take spending nearly $50,000 a year in order to break even on the annual fee. For those who travel extensively, you can come out ahead, if you qualify for the card.
MasterCard Black Card
The benefits offered to MasterCard Black cardholders include concierge service, airport lounge access throughout the world, extended warranties for purchases, car rental and travel insurance, and luggage protection. The benefits are practical and useful to those who travel frequently. Though the concierge service is not to the level of American Express, the annual fee is not either. MasterCard has partnered with a number of different banks to provide their black cards and each of these banks offer different benefits and different annual fees. The fees can range from no annual fee to as high as $395.
If you use credit extensively for travel and pay the balance off each month a black card may be worth the annual fees charged. Most of carrying a black card is about the exclusivity of carrying a black card, above and beyond the actual benefits. Yet with more and more black card options, the value of the card becomes deteriorated and less exclusive. It is likely that the exclusive black card will eventually go the way of the gold and platinum cards, as they become more readily available. Certainly not all black cards are alike and not all concierge services the same.