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Banks work to cultivate an image of luxury and exclusivity in their credit card products by naming them after precious substances like gold, platinum, sapphires, and diamonds. For example, over the years, gold cards have become commonplace.
In order to remain competitive and to continue to offer unique products, banks have increased the rewards and the fees for some of their high-end products to maintain that “elite” status. To those who value high-end benefits and exclusivity, Barclay’s Bank offers the Visa Black Card.
- Rewards. The bank doesn’t disclose all the details of its rewards system. Cardholders seem to earn points at a rate of one per dollar charged to the card. Users report redeeming 25,000 points for an airline ticket worth up to $500, which equals a 2% return on purchases. Cardholders can also redeem points for cash back at a rate of one cent per point, or a 1% return on purchases.
- Exclusivity. Barclay’s claims that only 1% of the U.S. population can qualify for this product, which is still over 3 million people. You also need an excellent credit score to qualify for the card.
- Benefits. Like other high-end cards, the Visa Black appeals to people who appreciate a myriad of perks. The long list of benefits includes a warranty manager service, lost luggage reimbursement, trip and baggage delay insurance, and a purchase security policy. Customers also receive unlimited access to over 350 airport lounges in 200 cities around the world.
- Concierge Service. Users have access to a 24-hour concierge service that provides assistance with travel and entertainment planning, business services, and gift arrangements.
- Promotional Balance Transfer Rate. This credit card features a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 15 months. After the promotional period ends, the standard interest rate applies. This card also has a 4% balance transfer fee.
- Annual Fee. This card has a $495 annual fee. There is a $195 annual fee for each authorized user on the account.
- Foreign Transaction Fees. There is a 3% foreign transaction fee added to all charges processed outside of the United States.
- Rewards. If you receive a 2% return for purchases, you can receive a true benefit from using this card. However, if you only redeem your points for cash back rewards worth 1%, you can earn more rewards with other cards.
- Lots of Perks. The extra protection and assistance programs primarily benefit cardholders who travel regularly.
- Feel Special. Some people may get an ego boost from knowing that they qualify for such an exclusive card. The card is made of carbon rather than plastic, so cardholders can also expect to impress merchants when they use this cool-looking card.
- Promotional Balance Transfer Rate. I imagine the ultra-rich do not carry a balance on their credit cards. But just in case they do, they can use this promotional balance transfer offer to save money on interest. On the other hand, perhaps they should just pay off their debt rather than incurring a $495 annual fee.
- Concierge Service. If you need someone you can call anytime to help you out with nearly anything, this service will appeal to you.
- Hefty Annual Fee. For $495, even the top-notch concierge service may not justify this extraordinary fee.
- Foreign Transaction Fees. Other cards, from basic Capital One products to the high-end American Express Platinum Card, have stopped charging foreign transaction fees. The exorbitant 3% fee made on every charge outside of the United States poses a serious disadvantage to frequent travelers.
I don’t think exclusivity justifies a $495 annual fee. I use credit cards as a way to improve my credit history and to earn rewards. I don’t view them as a privilege or something to brag about.
If you can receive a 2% return using this card’s rewards program, this card can provide you with solid benefits. In addition, if you need assistance with travel planning, business services, and gift arrangements, the concierge services may prove invaluable. Otherwise, prospective applicants should consider some of the other high-end travel rewards credit cards on the market.
Do you have a Barclay’s Bank Visa Black Card? Has the experience, rewards, and exclusivity justified the high annual fee?