With a stunning appearance – a black stainless steel front and unique carbon back – the Visa Black Card from Barclays looks like an exclusive status symbol.
But is it really exclusive? And is it worth getting?
The card is marketed as 'the ultimate buying tool'. It's modeled after the American Express Centurion (the original 'black' card), but it's certainly a lot cheaper to own and not as difficult to obtain (and overall it's like a cheap imitation but with certain attractive qualities!)
There's a hefty $495 fee for the pleasure of owning a Visa Black Card (though not quite as huge as the $2,500 Centurion fee) which automatically puts it out of reach of many consumers. Obtaining one seems to be pretty easy, though, as long as you have a halfway-decent FICO – students and low-income employees both report card ownership, despite the card advertising that just 1% of US residents will qualify.
The current sign-up bonus is 25,000 points when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days. This is worth a $500 flight already, so signing up basically covers the annual fee for this year. Points can normally be redeemed for 1% value, but you get double for airline – so 25,000 points is worth $500 in airfare. Travelers like us will benefit from this bonus, while the card may not be worth the annual fee for non-travelers overall.
The card has an excellent current introductory APR on purchases of 0% for the first twelve months. However, after that time, the rate is fairly steep at 14.99%, so next year, pay your balance off every month to avoid this interest.
Most of the cardholder benefits are travel-related, including:
– VIP treatment globally at hotels, resorts and villas, including spa treatments, room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, early check-in, late check-out and more.
– Complimentary membership and unlimited access to more than 350 airport lounges in 200 cities around the world.
– The exclusive Concierge Service is a really nice perk. Frequent flyers will love that a personal concierge is on hand to help you with anything from tourist information to flight reservation to car rentals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Plus the service is there for everyday purposes too – from entertainment planning to gift arrangement. They even assist with hunting out hard-to-find items like rare books or records! As posh as it sounds, there are reviews to say it's nothing more than a glorified Google service, but it's there if you need it.
– Cardmembers receive luxury branded gifts throughout the year, which may or may not be akin to the Ray Bans they feature on the website when advertising this, as some consumers report to having received just a pen (but then another reported that his wife received a Chanel handbag)!
– The members-only Luxury Magazine isn't a deal-breaker but it's a nice touch.
So is the Visa Black Card a good card to have?
The airline rewards offset the first year's fee. However, there are better deals around. There is no need to APPLY NOW… but we won't stop you either 🙂
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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