Elite Credit Cards – Are They for Prestige or Perks?

Silk beautyIf you have enough money – such as a net worth in the billion dollar neighborhood – you can qualify to carry an elite credit card, like the American Express Centurion credit card.

This credit card, casually known as “The Black Card,” comes with a $5,000 initiation fee, a $2,500 annual fee, and a requirement to charge at least $250,000 each year. The card itself is constructed of genuine titanium.

Pulling this card out to pay for a major purchase tells everyone within view that you are “Somebody.”

The web ad for this card carries the tagline: “Rarely seen, always recognized.” And it goes on to state: “Available by invitation only, The Centurion Card is the world’s rarest American Express Card and confers a level of service that can be extended only to selected individuals worldwide.”

So, is it the prestige or the service that entices the ultra-rich to pay $2,500 per year to carry this card? Access to the details about special perks given to cardholders is for “members only,” so I can’t answer that.

American Express has another option for the “not quite as elite.” Their platinum card, which is made of standard plastic and comes in basic silver/gray, comes with a much lower price – only $450 per year – and apparently has no pre-set spending requirements.

According to the advertising, both the Centurion Card and the Platinum card come with access to sporting events, fine dining, and visual and performing arts events that are not available to the general public at any price.

Another option to choose if your spending level isn’t quite high enough to qualify you for the American Express Centurion is the Visa Black. It’s far less pricey than the Centurion, but costs more than the American Express Platinum. This one comes with a $495 annual fee. Perhaps because this card is made of flexible carbon graphite. The Visa Black is available to only 1% of all U.S. residents.

For an annual fee of only $395, you can carry the Sotheby’s World Elite Mastercard. But only if you’ve been invited, and only if your investable assets top $2 million. Another requirement is an annual income of more than r $250,000. Along with the travel perks that come with other elite cards, Sotheby’s offers free admission to top museums and discounted prices on Sotheby’s catalogs.

If black just isn’t your color, and if you happen to have at least $1 million deposited in the Royal Bank of Scotland, you can opt for a beautiful purple card: The Coutts World Card.

Interestingly, most of the ultra-elite cards offer many of the same benefits – complimentary companion tickets on certain domestic or international air flights, global airport lounge access, and 24-hour concierge service. They also offer access to products, services, and events that are difficult to obtain. This includes sporting events, concerts, and such social events as an invitation to a VIP reception at the Playboy mansion.

Author: Mike Clover


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